Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Seven secures leave to appeal subpoena relating to Roberts-Smith trial

Seven Network has been granted leave to appeal a Federal Court order that it must hand over confidential documents relating to its decision to fund part of Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation trial.

user iconNaomi Neilson 25 September 2023 Big Law
expand image

In orders delivered on Monday (25 September) morning, Justice Nye Perram has granted Seven’s application following last Friday’s submissions that handing over the documents “would constitute a very significant intrusion” into the media giant’s “confidential” affairs.

It comes several months after Justice Anthony Besanko rejected a bid by Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes, his private company Australian Capital Equity (ACE), and Mr Roberts-Smith’s lawyers to have subpoena’s for the documents set aside.


Nine, the masthead behind The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and previously the Canberra Times, have sought documents, such as emails and text messages, to determine the extent of Seven’s involvement in the unsuccessful litigation action brought against them.

Mr Roberts-Smith’s trial was funded by Seven, his employee at the time, before he reached an agreement with Mr Stokes’ company.

On Friday, counsel Justin Williams told the court the subpoena would catch “all the communications” between Seven Network and Mr Roberts-Smith’s lawyers, which would be a “startling proposition”.

“There may simply be one-way communications, reporting of the proceedings from the Roberts-Smith camp … and the totality of these communications, coupled with essentially acquiescence or silence, when actioned on the part of my clients, would itself be something relevant to the third party cost application,” Mr Williams said.

Appearing for Nine, Nicholas Owens proposed a compromise that would limit the material to only lawyers.

Mr Owens said assuming there was “commercially sensitive” information, “there can be regimes put in place to make sure my clients don’t themselves get the benefit of access to it”.