Bruce Lehrmann given green light to sue Ten, News Corp over Brittany Higgins interview

He noted that in the criminal context, “in [media outlets’] …truth defenses” often (though not always) involve “fact-finding by a jury of ordinary men and women.”

“The purposes of justice, including public confidence in the resolution of these disputes, may be furthered if juries, rather than judges, at least hear and decide some questions of fact,” Lee wrote.

“Having said that, I recognize the potential difficulty in ordering a jury given the wide publicity these charges have already received, the variety of proceedings and other logistical issues.”

If a jury trial is ordered, it would be the first time a federal court has used a jury in a defamation case.

Lehrmann’s lawyer, Matthew Richardson, SC, told a Sydney court on Friday it was “highly unlikely” that his client would support a jury trial.

“Juries in criminal trials have gone off the rails; people have very strong opinions about that,” Richardson said.


“The possibility of a hung jury is clearly high. This is probably the most publicized rape case in Australian history and the community is divided on it.”

KC Matthew Collins, representing Ten, and Sue Chrysanthou SC, representing Wilkinson, said a jury trial would add significantly to the length of the trial.

“From our perspective, what Mr Richardson said seems to make sense given what happened in Canberra last year. [during the aborted criminal trial]’, Chrysanthou said.

“If this was a case that didn’t have the circumstances, I don’t think I would hesitate” to order a jury, Lee said.

“While the Federal Court has ordered a jury trial in a defamation case before, we haven’t actually seen any go to trial,” said David Rolph, a professor at the University of Sydney and an expert in defamation law.

Civil trials, including defamation cases, must be conducted by a single judge in federal court unless ordered otherwise, and the court has previously made clear that it is rare for it to order a jury. In state courts, either party has the right to choose a jury.

“This may be one of those extremely rare cases where a jury trial is the appropriate method of proceeding,” Rolfe said.

Lee told both parties on Friday that the court has the power to order a jury trial “even if everyone objects,” but “I’m not saying I would do that.” He invited all parties to submit written comments on this issue.

Lee said his decision on the statute of limitations period did not involve consideration of the merits of either situation.

In order to successfully apply for an extension of the statute of limitations to sue Ten and News Corp, Lehrmann will need to convince the court that, under the circumstances, it is unreasonable for him to start proceedings within a year. Lee discovered that he had passed the test.


Lehrmann’s legal team argued this was unreasonable given the legal advice he had received to delay filing proceedings during any criminal proceedings, as well as health concerns, including mental health concerns.

However, the media pointed out that after Higgins’ interview was broadcast on the 10th, Lehrman sent text messages to his girlfriend and others, indicating that he had received legal advice and that a criminal trial was “totally impossible”, but he A defamation suit can be filed.

teacher Evidence provided last month In court, he fabricated the suggestion to appease his girlfriend, while his lawyer actually told him that any defamation case would need to await the conclusion of the criminal process.

Lee concluded that the text messages Lehrmann sent to his then-girlfriend and a friend were unreliable evidence on which to conclude that he was told he would never face criminal charges.

Lehrmann is “going around” and “saying what he thinks he needs to say to put the best ‘spin’ on the situation,” Lee said. He was content with Lehrman’s lie when he texted that he had received advice that criminal prosecution was “off the table.”

In August 2021, Lehrman was named by the media after being accused of having sex without consent.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His trial was aborted last October due to juror misconduct. The charge was later dropped in its entirety due to concerns about Higgins’ mental health. Lehrman has always maintained his innocence.

so the teacher is Sued ABC for defamation of last year’s broadcast of Grace Tame and Higgins’ National Press Club speech. The case was filed this month and does not require court leave to proceed because it was filed within the one-year statute of limitations period.

Lee raised the question of whether all three cases should be tried together.

Collins said the ABC proceedings could raise narrower issues and therefore did not want it to be heard alongside the Ten and News Corp cases.

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