Long-running Checkout legal case ends

NSW Court of Appeal rules in favour of CJZ's Nick Murray and reverses an earlier victory for producer Julian Morrow.

A long-running legal stoush between producer Julian Morrow and production company CJZ has ended in the NSW Court of Appeal with a loss for The Chaser founder, and a win for CJZ, producers of Gruen, Bondi Rescue and Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery.

The case, first revealed by TV Tonight in 2019, centered around a fallout between former business partners, after CJZ transferred a 50% share of a Checkout joint venture company to Giant Dwarf, under director The Chaser’s Julian Morrow.

CJZ’s Nick Murray claimed Giant Dwarf was deceptive and misleading about plans with the ABC in March 2019 for a similar consumer show, Are You Being Served?, when Cordell Jigsaw was discussing its potential sale of a stake in the joint venture for $50. Giant Dwarf claimed  CJZ breached its contract by blocking it from making another series and sought compensation.

The case went to court after Morrow sued CJZ producer Nick Murray, accusing him of sending defamatory emails to ABC.

In 2022 the court ruled an outcome of misleading conduct, false representations against Morrow with his companies having to pay $760,000 in damages to CJZ, but with a $35,000 damages award for defamation in Morrow’s favour.

But Murray subsequently launched an appeal over the finding that he defamed Morrow.

Yesterday Morrow lost the appeal when the court reversed Morrow’s defamation win, finding Murray’s emails were covered by the qualified privilege defence, with no malice. They also upheld the judgment that Morrow had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and breached his director’s duties.

Morrow’s company was ordered to pay $500,000 CJZ in damages plus legal bills, understood to amount to some $2.5m.

Murray told SMH the case was a “disastrous farce” which “never should have happened”.

Morrow said he was “very disappointed by this outcome”.

“We need to absorb the decision and work out what’s best from here.”

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