In a bid to obtain a suppression order over details of a family
trust battle, Gina Rinehart faced the NSW Supreme Court with
concerns for the safety of herself and her family. Part of this
attempt involved allegations of a specific threat against Mrs
Rinehart made by an unknown man in Dubai who, after being followed
for a while, mysteriously vanished into a crowded marketplace.
Unsurprisingly, he was never seen again. It comes as even less of a
surprise that this supposed threat was dismissed for lacking
credibility and probative value.
Mrs Rinehart asserted that exposure from the publication of the
material sought to be suppressed would increase the risk of
kidnapping or extortion. This is a tough one to make out when
you're known globally as 'Australia's richest
woman' and you've hit number 29 on the Forbes rich list.
Consequently, the Court found that the chances of the Rinehart
family being targeted by potential harm-doers wouldn't increase
significantly as a result of the publication of the suppressed
To sum up, Mrs Rinehart lost her bid for secrecy. And it was no
help to her that her three eldest children, who she had safety
concerns for, opposed the order being made in the first place.
Mrs Rinehart's earlier attempt to suppress details of the
case was based on the terms of the trust deed requiring all parties
resolve disputes by "confidential mediation or
arbitration". A single judge, then the NSW Court of Appeal
didn't accept that details of that case ought be suppressed.
Mrs Reinhart appealed each of these decisions until finally the
High Court on 9 March 2012 knocked back her application for special
leave to appeal.
Just when we thought that we would get all the juicy details it
was reported that Rinehart will seek a further order that parts of
the Supreme Court file be suppressed. No wonder the barrister for
the Rinehart children claimed this was a "never-ending cycle
of increasingly desperate applications".
Lost in all the drama are the key issues of whether the question
of the removal of a trustee for misconduct can be the subject of
private arbitration and whether a trustee can contract out of the
jurisdiction of the court to exercise the historic supervisory
jurisdiction over the conduct of trustees. Those issues are still
be heard by the Court of Appeal.
We have a feeling this story is only going to get better.
This update was co-authored by a clever summer clerk, Rachel
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