Life on the land in Australia


Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has succeeded in keeping details of her family trust battle secret until mid January 13. 2012

In the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Justice Margaret Beazley stayed the decision overturning suppression orders on details of the case.

On Monday, three Appeal Court judges overturned the orders, concluding they would “undermine, rather than ensure, public confidence in the administration of justice”.

The proceedings against the iron-ore heiress have been brought by her children, Hope Rinehart Welker, John Langley Hancock and Bianca Hope Rinehart.

Gina Rinehart is the only child of the late mining magnate Lang Hancock. Her fortune is thought to be about $10 billion.

Her three children are trying to oust her as trustee of the multibillion dollar family trust, set up by Mr Hancock before he died, of which they are beneficiaries.

Another daughter and beneficiary, Ginia Hope Frances Rinehart, has joined her mother in the dispute.

Ms Rinehart asked for the stay so she could apply to the High Court for special leave to appeal against the decision overturning the suppression orders.

“In dealing with the prospects of obtaining special leave, I have reached the conclusion that those prospects are not strong,” Justice Beazley said.

She said the reasoning which led to the discharge of the orders was likely to be upheld and she considered that reasoning to be correct.

Justice Beazley said Ms Rinehart and her children are parties to a 2006 deed, which provides for the submission of disputes “under this deed” to confidential mediation and arbitration.

“The Deed was entered into following disharmony between the parties, who are all members of a prominent Western Australian family and whose affairs tend to attract media publicity.”

When the three children brought the proceedings against Ms Rinehart in the NSW Supreme Court, she unsuccessfully tried to have them stayed on the basis of the deed’s clause about confidential mediation and arbitration.

A judge ruled that the Supreme Court action did not involve “a dispute under the deed”, so the clause did not apply.

Ms Rinehart is appealing against this ruling and her challenge will be heard on February 8.

The judge took this into account in deciding to stay the overturning of the suppression orders until January 13, so Ms Rinehart can decide whether to apply to the High Court.

She said three appeal Court judges would be available to sit that day to determine whether any further stay should be granted.

December 22nd, 2011

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