Telstra seeks legal bills from C7 case

Telstra is seeking to have Channel Seven pay its legal bills, after a case brought by the broadcaster was dismissed on Friday.

Telstra is seeking to have Channel Seven pay its legal bills, after a case brought by the broadcaster was dismissed on Friday.

The telco's group general counsel, Will Irving, welcomed the end of the case, brought by Seven against over 20 companies following the demise of its pay TV venture, C7. Seven alleged that the companies had used anticompetitive tactics against the company that led to its failure.

In finding against Channel Seven, Justice Sackville said: "In my view, the expenditure of AU$200 million and counting on a single piece of litigation is not only extraordinarily wasteful but borders on the scandalous."

Telstra's Irving said: "Justice Sackville is right. This was a prime example of wasteful 'mega-litigation' but this case highlights that settling half-baked claims to avoid court costs and inconvenience is a false economy ... Telstra will be looking now to have Seven pay our legal bills."

C7, first launched in 1995, shut its doors seven years later. Seven was the author of its own misfortune, the judge said, after failing to make its best offer for the disputed AFL broadcasting rights at the centre of the case.

The companies affected by the action, including Telstra, Foxtel and News Corp, can now make brief written submissions on damages although the Justice hopes the companies involved may yet work out the damage between them.

"Even now [is] not too late for parties to bring these protracted and excessively expensive proceedings to a conclusion by mutual agreement and thus avoid the cost and uncertainty of appellate process," Sackville said.

Justice Sackville is expected to hand down his final judgement on the case on 17 September and, in his summing up, urged Seven not to appeal the decision, although the broadcaster is reportedly still considering the option.

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