The Tcard case currently running in the NSW Supreme Court has gained another party as ERG Group subsidiary ITSL sought today to file an additional counter-claim revolving around lobbyist firm Hawker Britton.
The case started when the NSW Government decided to take legal action against ITSL for failing to produce a working electronic ticketing system for Sydney after years of work and around $100 million in funds. The government hopes to get its costs back. ERG Group answered with a counter-claim for $200 million.
ITSL barrister Wayne Muddle wanted to file a pleading today for an additional counter-claim to investigate the dealings of Hawker Britton, looking into whether it breached its fiduciary duty to ITSL. Hawker Britton confirmed that the ERG Group had previously been a client of the public relations firm, which carries out lobbying activities, communications and campaigns.
ITSL has alleged that it had an agreement with Hawker Britton whereby it would use the company's services to assist in its dealings with the NSW Government. Muddle said that ITSL wanted to discover whether representations made by Hawker Britton on government matters had been factually correct.
"They either factually passed on information from government or they didn't," he said.
However, Justice Hammerschlag was not impressed with the way the counter-claim was presented, saying it lacked the necessary legal backing. "I think it's a recipe for a forensic disaster," he said. "I think the case which you wish to file can be pleaded, but this document does not achieve that."
He told Muddle to try again. Muddle will present the altered version to all affected parties by 11 January.
A spokesperson for Hawker Britton said it would contest the claim. "We absolutely believe that there is no validity to [ITSL's] claims." ERG Group has not returned requests for comment.
This is the second new entrant into the saga in two days, with the barrister for the government's Public Transport Ticketing Corporation saying yesterday that his client wanted to take the case to Motorola.
Hawker Britton is currently acting as a lobbyist for Scheidt & Bachmann, one of the competitors that is angling for the government's new electronic ticketing tender.