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Former NT Bar president seeks to join Stella Maris appeal

Former NT Bar Association president Alistair Wyvill SC has sought leave to join an appeal relating to the Stella Maris inquiry.

user iconLara Bullock 02 March 2016 The Bar
Lady Justice
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Mr Wyvill resigned as president of the NT Bar Association last year after a court examining the inquiry found he had encouraged his client to make a false statement. This decision is now facing a fresh appeal.

The matter stems back to 2014, when an enquiry lead by commissioner John Lawler found former NT Labor leader Delia Lawrie’s offer of a 10-year rent-free lease of the Stella Maris heritage site in Darwin to Unions NT was not in the public interest.

Ms Lawrie launched an appeal arguing that she was denied procedural fairness in the case because she was not given advance notice of the commissioner's findings.


On 1 April 2015, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Southwood ruled against Ms Lawrie and ordered her to pay nearly $215,000 in court costs for her failed appeal.

In his decision, Justice Southwood found Ms Lawrie deliberately tried not to participate in the inquiry, and her lawyer, Mr Wyvill SC, had recommended she make a false statement to the Lawler inquiry.

Following Justice Southwood's decision, Mr Wyvill resigned from his position as the NT Bar Association president.

Ms Lawrie has since launched a second appeal into Justice Southwood's 2015 decision, and this week Mr Wyvill SC indicated that he plans to join her appeal, according to the ABC.

Proceedings began earlier this week at the Northern Territory Court of Appeal, with Justices John Doyle and Kevin Duggan from South Australia, and Justice Eric Heenan from Western Australia brought in due to local judges being ruled as too conflicted.

Justice Doyle told the court it was dealing with an application by Mr Wyvill to join Ms Lawrie's appeal.

"It will be decided on a distinction between the merits of arguments he wants to put to that appeal," Justice Doyle said.

Walter Sofronoff QC, who is acting as Mr Wyvill's counsel, told the court he was questioning what evidence there was to make the finding that Mr Wyvill was acting dishonestly and therefore whether he should be able to join Ms Lawrie’s appeal.

"It's all very well to say it was a deliberate and deceptive strategy not to engage, but where was the reliance by the commissioner, where was he duped, where was he misled?" Mr Sofronoff said in court.

"There's no evidence about it, no plea about it, so it doesn't go anywhere."

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