How Edelsten’s costs application against solis backfired

Last October I posted about Dr Edelsten’s adventures in the Supreme Court of Victoria against a lady friend in (Mainly) keeping a sugar daddy’s confidences.

A quick reminder. In an entertaining but unflattering judgment Dr Edelsten won an order for $US5000 plus certain limited suppression orders against a Ms da Silva.

Among other things, Beach J found that “most of the evidence given by the defendant was demonstrably false and could not be believed. However, Dr Edelsten was no more an impressive witness than Ms da Silva.”

Now the aftermath (which escaped me among the distractions of the summer holidays).

The week before Christmas Dr Edelsten went back to court and sought his costs of the litigation against the defendant’s solicitors – on an indemnity basis.

Among other things, he relied upon the Civil Procedure Act.

He argued that swathes of the defendant’s case had no proper basis, her solicitors must have known this and therefore they should not have persisted with key aspects of the defendants’ case.

Beach J was not swayed.

“I am satisfied that at all times … the defendant’s solicitors were acting on the instructions of the defendant. Indeed, when the defence was eventually abandoned, it was abandoned in the face of the defendant’s evidence to the contrary.

… Having regard to the instructions the defendant’s solicitors then possessed, I see nothing improper, or in breach of any rule of conduct, or in breach of any overarching obligation or other provision of the Civil Procedure Act, in the drawing, settling and filing of the defendant’s defence. …

It is always possible to say that an issue, upon which it becomes clear that a party will ultimately be unsuccessful, could have been abandoned earlier if greater diligence had been exercised. However, the mere failure to abandon a point at the earliest possible time does not mandate a conclusion that an overarching obligation of the Civil Procedure Act has been breached.

…. In the end, I have come to the conclusion that while a counsel of perfection would have suggested that the concession made on the afternoon of the third day of the trial could (and possibly should) have been made 24 hours earlier, the failure to take this step at that time did not involve the contravention of any of the overarching obligations in the Civil Procedure Act.

And the ordeal was not yet over.  Beach J concluded with an order that Dr Edelsten pay the solicitors’ costs of his failed application on a solicitor /client basis (apparently because the judge considered the application had been sufficiently hopeless to warrant costs on more than the usual party/party basis).

The costs decision is here.

 

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