Clive Palmer vs.  Mark McGowan defamation trial court costs hearing

Clive Palmer vs. Mark McGowan defamation trial court costs hearing

Lee noted the billionaire may not be troubled by the pending hefty legal bill, which is yet to be determined.

“Mr Palmer may not be unduly troubled about spending his money on litigation, but he had an obligation to facilitate the just resolution of the dispute according to law and as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible,” he said.

“The cost of the litigation was disproportionate to any benefit it was likely to produce and this should have been evidence in December last year.

“Failing to even respond to or engage with the offer is not a pointer to reasonableness.”

The defamation bid is one of several legal challenges Palmer has pursued against the WA premier since 2020, including a failed bid in the High Court to have the state’s hard border closure deemed unconstitutional.

The September 2021 WA budget revealed the West Australian government had spent at least $1.47 million fighting the myriad court actions brought against it by Palmer and anticipated spending a further $3.25 million over the next two years.

In an indication of the disproportion between the damages awarded in the defamation trial and the case’s expected legal costs, Justice Lee joked the $20,000 awarded to McGowan was less than the daily fee charged by Walker.


“It’s an interesting stage in your career when your daily fee is more than the total damages in the case,” he said, to which Walker replied: “I would hate for Your Honor to think that is the first time it’s happened.”

Palmer launched the defamation action following a war of words between the two men from April to September 2020, which Palmer said “hurt his feelings” and damaged his reputation.

McGowan counter-sued, saying Palmer defamed him in advertising and media interviews.

Lee found both had defamed each other. He has awarded McGowan $20,000 and Palmer $5000 in damages while rejecting both parties’ claims of aggravated damages.

Lee said the case had involved considerable expenditure by Palmer and WA taxpayers and diverted resources away from “real” Federal Court proceedings.

“The game has not been worth the candle,” he said.

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