VID770/2010 Pat Eatock v Andrew Bolt & HWT
Mon 28 March 2011
As it was the group members turn to first open their case this morning, Mr Neil Young QC representing Mr Bolt and HWT did not have much to say other than:
(1) An objection to witnesses having an opportunity to read out a statement to the court, on the grounds that it may waste court time and resources. However, Justice Bromberg granted leave for the 3 witnesses that were being called to give personal evidence, given the case has some public interest, the issues are of a personal nature, and Mr Merkel persuaded his Honour that it would be appropriate in the circumstances that the witnesses have an opportunity to put forward the full context of their versions of the situation.
(2) Mr Young also made a strong objection to a possible change in the scope of the remedies sought by the group members. The original Application of 7 Sep 2010 by the group members was for a declaration that the Bolt Articles was unlawful under s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act; a restraining order against republication; and an apology, as well as the usual recovery of legal costs. It is the usual practice that a general claim is also made in pleadings for ”such further or other relief as the Court deems fit”.
It was mentioned in open court this morning that there had been correspondence between the parties in the past week as to the intention of group members to apply for a broader set of remedies if the common claims were decided in their favour in the class action. Such further claims were said by Mr Merkel to be consistent with the general claim of ”such further or other relief as the Court deems fit” and it was anticipated that this would include individual claims that could include monetary compensation.
Justice Bromberg was not aware of this development.
Mr Young claimed that this was unfair and unjust as Bolt & HWT had prepared the case on the understanding that there was no monetary claim and also it may effect the whole class action procedures where aggrieved persons could have otherwise been better informed for their decision not to opt-out, if they knew of this development.
Neither side pressed for a ruling from his Honour at this time on whether monetary compensation could be claimed by individuals following the class action trial on the common issues.
[David Barrow of Melbourne]