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Bruce Lehrmann to learn how much he has to pay after failed defamation case

Written by on May 10, 2024

Today Bruce Lehrmann will learn how much he will have to pay in the wake of his failed defamation case against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson.

Justice Michael Lee said he had reached a “level of satisfaction” that costs would be awarded in Network Ten’s favour, with the amount to be revealed when the Federal Court reconvenes at 2.15pm today.

Last month, Justice Lee found on civil standard of the balance of probability that Mr Lehrmann did rape Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.

Mr Lehrmann has until May 31 to launch an appeal against the decision after being granted a time extension.

Follow our live coverage below for the latest updates

‘Bankruptcy’ a possibility for Bruce Lehrmann

During last week’s costs hearing, Justice Lee raised the prospect that Mr Lehrmann will be unable to pay Ten’s $5 million legal costs and will be forced into bankruptcy.

If he is forced into bankruptcy it could also have an impact on the former Liberal staffer’s capacity to appeal the judgment he raped Brittany Higgins, because strict rules apply to appeals that can involve evidence of the plaintiff’s financial capacity to pay legal costs that were not applied during the original civil trial. has previously revealed that Mr Lehrmann has engaged a noted appeals specialist Guy Reynolds SC to examine the judgment.

During a legal costs hearing in Sydney last week, Ten’s barrister Matt Collins KC raised concerns that much of the legal arguments were “academic” because Mr Lehrmann will not be able to pay the costs that are estimated to be between $5 million and $6 million.

“Alternatively, someone has to go and bankrupt Mr Lehrmann or do something like that,’’ Dr Collins said.

Justice Lee also discussed how Lisa Wilkinson should get her legal bills paid for by Ten, following her court victory on that issue.

“She’s entitled to get a cheque from Network 10 prior to waiting to see whether or not Mr Lehrmann comes up with any money or he’s placed in a bankruptcy,’’ Justice Lee said.

Lehrmann denies having ‘secret backers’

Mr Lehrmann was forced to reveal documents showing whether or not a secret financial backer was bankrolling his multimillion-dollar defamation case.

Justice Lee presided over the hearing on Wednesday this week after Network Ten issued legal demands to probe if any third party was bankrolling the case.

But Mr Lehrmann’s legal team revealed there was a no win-no fee agreement in place which means his lawyers will not get paid.

The total cost of the defamation trial could rise to $10 million in total.

But to date, Mr Lehrmann has never paid a dollar for his own legal team.

In relation to a third party agreement involving a secret financial backer, his legal team said there was none.

“Your Honour, there are no documents to produce, in that we read that paragraph as requiring production of any agreement by a third party to pay the applicant’s costs,’’ his lawyer Paul Svilans told the court. “However, there is none such agreement.”

The only cost agreement was on a no win-no fee basis.

“There is only a cost agreement between my firm and the applicant. That agreement makes no reference to any third party. I have a copy here and I’m happy to produce it to your honour to have a look at if you’re honour is minded to,’’ Mr Svilans said.