Christian Porter and his high-profile barrister have been ordered to pay costs running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to Jo Dyer, a friend of the woman who had accused the former attorney general of raping her three decades ago.
On Friday justice Tom Thawley made a costs order forcing Porter and his former barrister, Sue Chrysanthou SC, to pay Dyer’s costs over a federal court hearing last month.
The four-day hearing was brought by Dyer in her attempt to restrain the star silk from acting for Porter over what she said was a conflict of interest arising out of a meeting between the two women in November last year.
Dyer was successful, with Thawley ordering Chrysanthou to relinquish the brief after agreeing she had received confidential information which was relevant to the case and could present a “danger of misuse”.
Three days later Porter sensationally dropped his defamation case against the ABC, declaring victory in the matter despite failing to secure an apology or retraction from the public broadcaster.
Thawley ordered both Porter and Chrysanthou to pay costs, but did not make a ruling about how or whether those costs would be shared. The costs order found both jointly liable for the costs, meaning the order could potentially be enforced against either of them. The Guardian understands a preliminary calculation of Dyer’s costs could mean the bill will run as high as half-a-million dollars.
Porter had accepted that he should pay costs, but argued it should be restricted to 70% on the basis of an affidavit filed by James Hooke which his lawyers had argued was both late, and, as was argued during the trial, could have derailed his case against the ABC.
But Thawley disagreed, finding the affidavit was not late and that there was “insufficient reason to disturb the ordinary rule by reducing the amount of costs awarded”.
Chrysanthou had argued she should not be liable for costs as she had maintained a “neutral” position in the case. The four-day hearing was run by lawyers acting for Porter, and Chrysanthou had only filed a concise response and affidavit in the case as “required”.
But Thawley disagreed that she was required to file submissions, and said in his order that her neutral position should be “qualified”.
“Before proceedings were commenced, Ms Chrysanthou, through her solicitors, adopted an adversarial approach, including threatening an application for security for costs in the amount of $150,000 should proceedings be commenced,” he found.
“This is not intended as a criticism. But it is a part of the context in which the question of costs must be determined. The ‘neutral position’ was first indicated at the first case management hearing.
“Further, it should be noted that, in cross-examination, Ms Chrysanthou accepted that she had assisted Mr Porter in these proceedings.”