ON 14 JULY 1998, the Federal Court of Australia delivered White Industries (Qld) Pty Ltd v Flower & Hart (a firm)  FCA 806 (14 July 1998).
Flower & Hart (a firm of lawyers) was ordered to pay the legal costs of White Industries (Qld) Pty Ltd who had been sued by Flower & Hart’s client, Caboolture Park Shopping Centre Pty Ltd (in liquidation).
Proceedings alleging misleading and deceptive conduct, fraud and negligence had been brought by Caboolture Park for the ulterior purpose of delaying payment of monies due under a building contract. The solicitor for Caboolture Park, Michael Meadows, held the view that the proceedings did not have any prospects or any substantial prospects of success but nevertheless advised his client to proceed in order to secure a bargaining position against White Industries.
Goldberg held that:
- the proceedings were not brought for a legitimate purpose of vindicating a right but rather, they had no prospects of success and were brought to postpone or delay the ultimate determination of the legitimate claim of White Industries.
- it was unreasonable to make the allegations in circumstances where there was no factual basis and no consideration was given as to whether or not there was a factual basis.
- it was unreasonable for the solicitors to initiate and continue the proceedings as they amounted to an abuse of process and oppressive conduct.
- it was unreasonable for the solicitor to shelter behind the advice of counsel, Ian Callinan QC.
As the impetus came from the solicitor, his Honour ordered that they pay the legal costs of White Industries, on an indemnity basis.
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