Lehrmann to pay Ten’s costs for doomed defamation case

Lehrmann to pay Ten’s costs for doomed defamation case

Bruce Lehrmann has been ordered to pay most of Ten’s legal bill after his doomed defamation case against the network.

In April, the ex-Liberal staffer suffered a legal loss after the Federal Court found an allegation that he raped Brittany Higgins in a Parliament House office in March 2019 was most likely true.

The 28-year-old had sued for defamation over a February 2021 report on The Project in which journalist Lisa Wilkinson interviewed Ms Higgins over the rape allegation.

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Since the findings against Lehrmann, the parties have been in dispute over the legal costs and who should foot what is expected to amount to a sizeable legal bill for the long-running and high-profile case.

On Friday afternoon, Justice Michael Lee found in favour of Ten’s application for indemnity costs.

Lehrmann was ordered to pay for the network’s costs on an ordinary and indemnity basis, but he will not have to pay costs for some affidavits.

The total amount he will have to pay will be determined at a hearing later in May.

Justice Lee noted “there are no real winners” in the case, and criticised Ten’s lawyers for going on a “victory tour” after his judgment was delivered in April.

Earlier in the week, the court heard Lehrmann had no financial backers and that his lawyers had agreed they did not need to be paid if he lost the case.

Ten will be liable to pay Wilkinson for at least a portion of the legal costs she incurred for retaining her own lawyers.

The network can then claim this back against Lehrmann as part of its own expenses.

However, a referee will be appointed to examine whether the journalist could have avoided unnecessary costs in the way she ran her case.

The costs matter will return to the court for a case management hearing on May 27.

Lehrmann has until May 31 to appeal the defamation case finding.

Support is available from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

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