04/06/2021 - 13:30

Caratti loses bid to challenge $800k legal bill

04/06/2021 - 13:30

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Businessman John Caratti has lost his bid to challenge an $800,000 legal bill, with the state’s Supreme Court siding with his former barrister.

Caratti loses bid to challenge $800k legal bill
Businessman John Caratti has lost his bid to challenge an $800,000 legal bill.

Businessman John Caratti has lost his bid to challenge an $800,000 legal bill, with the state’s Supreme Court siding with his former barrister.

According to a judgement handed down by the Supreme Court this week, Mr Caratti, the son of late property developer Sergio Caratti, launched legal action against barrister Grant Donaldson in August last year through his company Mammoth Investments.

Mammoth Investments' lawyers Hotchkin Hanly had entered into a costs agreement with Mr Donaldson in May 2019, in which he was appointed senior counsel for the company’s Supreme Court battle with Rural Bank.

Between September and December 2019, Mr Donaldson issued four invoices for his services totalling more than $800,000.

But 10 months after the court case concluded, Mammoth Investments, represented by Hotchkin Hanly lawyer Martin Bennett, sought a court order that would have forced Mr Donaldson to handover itemised bills for those invoices for the purpose of a review as well as an order for him to pay the costs associated with the legal action.

This week, Master Craig Sanderson dismissed the application after finding Mammoth Investments did not have standing to bring it forward.

He also said it was not entirely clear from Mammoth Investment’s counsel what would have satisfied their interpretation of the phrase 'itemised bill' and said, in his view, the itemised bills provided were “sufficient”.

In justifying his decision, Master Sanderson cited a section of the Legal Profession Act 2008, which stated it was in fact the solicitors who engaged the barrister that reserved the right to seek an assessment of the barrister's costs. 

While the solicitors may choose to take steps to launch an assessment at the behest of their client, Master Sanderson said the legislation did not give Mammoth Investments, as the client, the authority to directly challenge the barrister's costs.

Master Sanderson also ordered Mammoth Investments to pay Mr Donaldson's legal costs associated with the matter, who was represented by Fletcher Law's Steven Penglis.

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