Seven West Media will be forced to hand over thousands of emails exchanged by Ben Roberts-Smith’s legal team to Nine, following his failed defamation action.
The Federal Court this morning rejected an appeal for costs to be paid to the media companies who sought the documents.
Last month, Federal Court Justice Nye Perram described some of the emails as containing “personally embarrassing” content, while Seven lawyers warned their release could cause the company “commercial harm in giving them to its direct competitor”.
The Guardian reports Nine newspapers subpoenaed documents and correspondence sent between SWM Chair Kerry Stokes, commercial director, Bruce McWilliam, law firms representing Seven and lawyers for Roberts-Smith. Nine is arguing Seven exerted a measure of control over the defamation proceedings and should therefore be liable for costs.
Seven Network, Seven West Media, Stokes’ private company Australian Capital Equity (ACE), and Mark O’Brien Legal, the firm which represented Roberts-Smith, had also appealed against the ruling.
Roberts-Smith denies all wrongdoing and is appealing against the June findings of Justice Anthony Besanko. The full court of the Federal Court will hear his appeal in February.
Nine-owned Stan is also set to screen a documentary around Roberts-Smith in December.