10 and Lisa Wilkinson apart on legal costs

The fallout from infamous defamation case continues...

The likelihood of Lisa Wilkinson returning to 10 seems further out of reach with reports the former Project host and network are unable to agree on costs following the Bruce Lehrmann defamation case.

Wilkinson hired her own legal defence headed by Sydney defamation silk Sue Chrysanthou, SC, instead of being represented by 10’s team.

In February Federal Court Justice Michael Lee ruled it was reasonable for her to brief a separate team of lawyers.

But the amount was left unresolved until the case concluded.

10 earlier this year agreed to pay “reasonable” costs for her team. In October, those legal costs had already exceeded $700,000 and have since ballooned to estimated $2m.

10 is ultimately seeking an order that Lehrmann pay its costs of the litigation on an indemnity basis, which covers a higher proportion of a costs bill than the standard order, because he brought the case “on a deliberately wicked and calculated basis”.

However, it is likely the network will be left to foot the bill given Lehrmann is unemployed and lacks the funds.

10’s barrister Matt Collins KC argued Wilkinson “was not entitled to incur costs in respect of her separate interests as she pleased on the assumption that Network 10 would ultimately pick up the bill”.

But Wilkinson’s team have accused 10 of “impermissibly seeking to reagitate” the claim she won against the network ­earlier this year.

10 said a referee “ought be directed to inquire into and prepare a report for the court” on a range of topics, including “whether and, if so, the extent to which, it was reasonable for Ms Wilkinson to incur costs” relating to the common issues, “including for example Ms Wilkinson’s legal representatives retaining a watching brief in respect of those issues”.

Earlier this week 10 denied reports Wilkinson had requested and been refused an appearance on The Project following the court ruling.

“Network 10 can confirm that Lisa did not request an appearance on The Project and accordingly there could be no refusal to her request,” a spokesperson said.

Source: The Australian, The Age, news.com.au