No ball games - court orders tv channel to hand over documents as mega media trial gets underway in Australia

The crowds have been filling Sydney's Federal Court since Seven Network's epic billion dollar legal action kicked off earlier this month. The broadcaster was forced to close its C7 pay-tv sports channel after it failed to win any of the crucial broadcasting rights it needed to be able to cover the country's football and rugby league games.

The company claimed that Rupert Murdoch's company was behind a conspiracy to block C7 by doing deals with other companies and outbidding C7 over broadcast rights in order to ensure a monopoly. Seven has issued proceedings against the 22 different parties it held responsible for the demise of C7 after the loss of rights left it with a gaping hole in its 2000 sports schedule.

The amount of lawyers involved makes for a full court house before any of the estimated fifty witnesses and the press and public squeeze their way in. Seven has hired top UK lawyer Jonathan Sumption QC from Brick Court Chambers to represent it in court.

Over 50,000 documents have so far been uncovered in the pre-trial discovery process and the court ruled yesterday that Seven was obliged to hand over further documents to the 22 parties it is suing. Seven was trying to sit tight on several documents claiming they were covered by professional privilege as they contained advice from its lawyers. The court was not convinced by this claim and ruled that the privilege the company was seeking didn't attach to comminucations 'made for the sole purpose of frustrating the law itself'. In other words, the court is not going to allow the parties to play ball games with the evidence in this trial.



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