Complaints about the conduct of Clayton Utz’s lawyers in the preparation of an expert witness report for the recently concluded case Universal Music v Sharman License Holdings Ltd were made to the NSW Legal Services Commissioner well before the case concluded.
It is understood complaints were made to the Commissioner soon after evidence of email exchanges discussing the preparation of a draft expert report was tendered in court in December. The evidence revealed exchanges between solicitors at Clayton Utz and expert witness Professor Keith Wimberley Ross, of the Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, New York.
In his judgement handed down on 5 September, Justice Murray Wilcox said he was forced to conclude that Professor Ross “was prepared seriously to compromise his independence and intellectual integrity” and that it would be unsafe to rely on his evidence in relation to any “controversial matter”.
Neither the Legal Services Commission nor the NSW Law Society would comment on whether complaints were made regarding the conduct of Clayton Utz lawyers during the case, although it is understood that investigations by the two bodies are ongoing.
Clayton Utz would not comment on the inquiry, but reiterated that its lawyers had not acted inappropriately.
“Clayton Utz complied with the obligations imposed on solicitors by the Federal Court in relation to preparation of expert evidence and there was no finding in the judgement to the contrary, nor was there any criticism of the firm’s conduct.
“Clayton Utz rejects any suggestions that any of its lawyers have acted inappropriately in the conduct of these proceedings. That being the case, we do not propose to make any further comment.”