Former employee forced to pay Seven's legal costs

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 17, 2017

Seven West Media has issued its one and only statement following the ruling in the NSW Supreme Court that Amber Harrison is liable for all of Seven's legal costs following her action relating to her extra-marital affair with Seven CEO, Tim Worner.

The media company had sought a NSW Supreme Court permanent gag order against Ms Harrison preventing her from leaking company documents and details of her affair. Seven claims it has paid over $400,000 to Ms Harrison, including $50,000 for her legal costs to her former advisor Harmers Workplace Lawyers.

Seven's costs could be more than $1 million and Harrison said last week that she would be "driven into bankruptcy" if costs were awarded against her.

He rejected her argument that an indemnity costs order would amount to punishing her for "taking a stand" and said it was an appropriate order to "compensate [Seven]. for the unreasonable costs incurred in these proceedings".

But in November that year, Seven struck a new deal that saw her leave the company as part of a confidentiality agreement and settlement worth $350,000, but payments stopped just a few months later after Harrison refused to return a phone.

The declaration means Seven can seek to recover the money it paid to Ms Harrison.

Seven West Media looks forward to putting this matter behind us.

The Court found that Ms Harrison engaged in numerous breaches of the settlement deed and her employment contract and these breaches were persistent and flagrant.

On Monday, Justice Sackar found she acted "unreasonably" and ordered her to pay all the company's legal costs.

"These proceedings have, from the outset, been engulfed in a vitriolic atmosphere", Justice Sackar said.

"In the end it is regular people like you and I that end up being victims of brutal corporate bullying and lawfare".

"The allegations from both sides, whether entirely true or not, have often been personal, scandalous, and sadly ripe for media and public consumption", justice Sakar said in today's judgment.

"The defendant's decision to persist in running a case without any admissible evidence to rely upon reflects a real disregard for any adverse costs consequences that naturally follow on from such conduct".

"It's a pity [Ms Harrison] did not make a "realistic assessment" of her case at an earlier stage as opposed to some five days before the commencement of this final hearing", he said.

"Seven chose to run this trial and they should pay for it", she said.

Before the judgment was handed down on Monday, Ms Harrison wrote a series of tweets condemning the AFL's decision to accept resignations from two of its most senior executives after they admitted to having "inappropriate" workplace relationships with younger women in the industry.

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