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Shock twist in Palmer v McGowan fight

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West Australian Premier Mark McGowan offered a deal to billionaire Clive Palmer to end their defamation court battle before last Christmas but it was rejected, a court has been told.

The Premier and the mining magnate sued each other for defamation in the NSW Federal Court, with both sides losing the battle and ordered to pay damages.

On Thursday, the matter returned to court to work out costs.

It was revealed a letter sent by the Premier’s legal team in December last year presented an offer to Mr Palmer for both sides to admit they had “gone too far” and the case need not proceed to trial because there was a risk they would both lose.


It was suggested both sides should walk away and pay their own costs at that point, but Mr Palmer’s legal team rejected the offer.

Justice Michael Lee said that would be an important factor for him in making his decision about costs.

Camera IconClive Palmer’s legal team rejected the offer from the Premier, the court has been told. NCA NewsWire/Damian Shaw Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Palmer’s legal team argued the offer came late, but Justice Lee noted the trial was still some time away at that point.

The Queensland businessman’s team argued the court case had ultimately ended in a tie, so both sides should have to pay for their own lawyers.

But the Premier’s legal team argued the December letter should be taken into account as well as it was Mr Palmer who started the legal fight.

Justice Lee will hand down his decision later on Thursday.

During the trial, evidence was heard about Mr Palmer’s legal fight over the WA hard border, his stalled iron ore project, arbitration between the parties, and the extraordinary legislation that was passed to block the mining magnate’s ability to claim almost $30bn in damages.

Justice Lee delivered his judgment in the case earlier this month, awarding $5000 in damages to Mr Palmer and $20,000 to the Premier, saying they had both failed with their defences.

Ultimately, Justice Lee said “the game has not been worth the candle” as he criticised both parties.

“These proceedings have not only involved considerable expenditure by Mr Palmer and the taxpayers of WA but have also consumed considerable resources of the commonwealth and, importantly, diverted court time from resolving controversies of real importance to persons who have a pressing need to litigate,” he said.

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