Brisbane firm fails to pause compensation hearing pending negligence suit

By Naomi Neilson|19 January 2021
Brisbane

The managing partner of a Brisbane-based firm has failed to convince the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to hold off on a compensation order pending a lawsuit alleging negligence that is currently being determined in the Magistrates Court. 

Irish Bentley managing partner Zeke Bentley was unable to argue that a compensation hearing should be halted until the conclusion of a Magistrates Court trial. The Brisbane-based firm will instead continue fighting the allegation from agriculture landowners’ association MBRII that it was negligent, along with facing a costs order of $69,007.  

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In April 2013, MBRII sought legal advice following a Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) report that proposed imposing charges for water drawn from the Brisbane River for irrigation. The case was to be overseen by Mr Bentley along with colleagues David Stevenson, Alex Myers and Ross Sommers, who also played a part in the complaint. 

Irish Bentley provided MBRII with a letter of advice that suggested a “reasonable” view of success and that, if the proceedings were unsuccessful, there was the “reasonable prospect” that the court would not make a costs order against MBRII.  

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However, a judge would later rule that MBRII had not shown it was aggrieved by QCA and the relevant minister’s acceptance of the recommendation and that did not provide a significant reason to grant an interlocutory injunction – and ordered that it pay costs. 

MBRII filed a claim and statement of claim in the Magistrates Court against Mr Bentley with the firm alleging that he was negligent and in breach of a contractual duty of care. It claims damages of $69,007.20, being the refund of fees paid to the firm, costs which were paid to QCA, costs for counsel and costs relating to a cost agreement. 

Irish Bentley then attempted to bring an application to QCAT seeking that the requests for compensation be dismissed pending a decision in the Magistrates Court. However, the Tribunal ordered that there was not sufficient evidence to stay the proceedings. 

More to come. 

The decision has been published on AustLII: Legal Services Commission v Bentley (No 4) QCAT 2 (12 January 2021)

Brisbane firm fails to pause compensation hearing pending negligence suit
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