Seven to fight defamation costs in the Ben Roberts-Smith case

Seven to fight defamation costs in the Ben Roberts-Smith case

The Seven Network is expected to fight a third-party fee claim in relation to Nine newspaper articles about war veteran and former Seven executive Ben Roberts-Smith.

Earlier this month the Federal Court ruled that some of the allegations made in six articles by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times were found to be substantially true.

The case is expected to cost $25 million in attorney fees.

Federal Court was revealed today that Roberts-Smith had agreed to pay the costs of the failed case by way of indemnity starting in 2020.

“Mr. Roberts-Smith agrees to pay the costs of the proceedings … but whether or not you pay before March 17, 2020, in compensation, remains controversial,” said Nine’s attorney, Nicholas Owens SC.

Indemnity fees cover a higher percentage of the winning party’s attorney fees than a standard expense order and are awarded in exceptional circumstances.

Seven West Media and chairman Kerry Stokes, are expected to battle the question after funding the case in its early days before it was moved to a loan deal from Australian Capital Equity, which also owns Stokes.

The court heard that ACE and Seven Network Operations Limited disputed the claim that they should have been liable for Nine’s legal costs.

The newspapers asked Rete Sette to pay the expenses until 23 June 2020, when the loan agreement was in place, and then asked Ace to pay the expenses from 24 June 2020.

Roberts-Smith’s attorney, Arthur Moses, SC, requested that evidence of the costs be delayed until the July 12 appeal deadline.

Roberts-Smith resigned as managing director of Seven Queensland the day after the court found that the newspapers had proved three murders covered by the stories and one more, as well as bullying. An allegation of domestic violence has not been proven.

Source: The Australian, The age