find the latest legal job
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· An outstanding opportunity · Provide educational, research and organisational leadership
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Rinehart money not enough to supplant open justice

Rinehart money not enough to supplant open justice

A lawyer who acted in the recent litigation involving Gina Rinehart and her children said she worried media interests would “lose their appetite” in the face of a seemingly unlimited source of funds.

Addisons Lawyers’ media partner, Justine Munsie, acted for ABC, Fairfax Media and News Limited in their quest to have the suppression order lifted on details of a family feud between Gina Rinehart and her three eldest children. 

“I always thought that the media had the correct view that the suppression orders should never have been made, but in a case where there was simply appeal upon appeal, and application upon application, I did worry … It involved a huge amount of time and money to fight the fight to allow the stories to be told,” said Munsie.

The matter has been in and out of several courts since September last year. On 19 December last year, the NSW Court of Appeal accepted the media’s argument that the principle of open justice outweighed any interest in keeping this family dispute secret.

“We’re used to acting for media companies on a daily basis, but it was a very interesting experience to be watching a very personal family dispute play out in the courts, and our role simply being to ensure that the dispute could be freely reported,” said Munsie.

Rinehart again sought to have details of the feud, in which her children launched legal action alleging serious misconduct by her (as head of a family trust that holds 23.6 per cent of Hancock Prospecting), kept behind closed doors. But last Friday (9 March), Chief Justice French and Justice Gummow of the High Court refused her application for special leave to appeal.

Rinehart’s eldest children, John Hancock, Bianca Rinehart and Hope Welker, were represented by Johnson Winter and Slattery (JWS) media partners Mark O’Brien and Kevin Lynch, and tax partner Richard Gelksi.

Like Addisons, JWS argued that the matter was a family dispute, not a commercial one, and that it was in the interests of open justice to have the suppression order lifted.

Rinehart’s youngest daughter, Ginia, sided with her mother and the pair were represented by Corrs Chambers Westgarth litigation partner Paul McCann and Gadens Lawyers’ John Dalzell respectively.

McCann stressed to the media that the allegations made against Rinehart were only allegations and still being disputed in court.

Ramifications beyond Rinehart

Contrary to Munsie’s fear that media outlets would back down, ABC, Fairfax and News “never wavered” in their determination, she said, because they all realised the broader significance of the case.

The decision last Friday was made under the new NSW Court Suppression and Non-Publication Orders Act which came into force in July 2011.

“The Supreme Court always had that inherent power [for making suppression orders], but there wasn’t a statute [like this one] setting out the basis on which an order could be made,” explained Munsie.

“The fear is that … [it] will encourage people to apply for orders under the act and it may encourage judges to make orders where they may not have previously done so.”

The Court of Appeal, however, made it clear (both before and after the introduction of the act) that the free reporting of cases being heard in open court is the most important consideration to be made when considering a suppression order, said Munsie.

“Parties do need a very good reason to supplant that principle of open justice,” said Munise, adding that there have only been about seven or eight judgments under the act so far.

Munsie, together with Addisons senior associate Richard Keegan, helped secure the pleadings, affidavits and submissions filed in the case since it began six months ago.

The case, which seeks the removal of Rinehart as trustee, was heard on 8 February and parties are waiting on the judgment.

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Rinehart money not enough to supplant open justice
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Gavel, legal book, criminal lawyers
Jan 19 2018
Three criminal lawyers named NSW magistrates
The NSW Attorney-General has announced the appointment of three new local court magistrates. ...
Warning
Jan 18 2018
Lawyer highlights ‘unintended consequences’ on SSM estate planning
A succession lawyer has warned that the right for same-sex couples to legally marry could have a sub...
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
Jan 18 2018
ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services
A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...