A court has rejected Gina Rinehart and her company Hancock Prospecting's claims that giving her children access to certain documents would significantly prejudice the mining magnate.
In a decision delivered today, Supreme Court of Western Australia Justice Jennifer Smith granted Mrs Rinehart’s children, John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart, access to use certain documents to prepare their defences.
John and Bianca sought leave to prepare their defences for the upcoming trial over the ownership of Hope Downs iron ore mines.
“Gina claims she would suffer significant prejudice if the relief sought in Bianca and John's application were granted,” Justice Smith’s decision reads.
“Gina points out that in a number of confidential deeds that she entered into between … Bianca and John over a number of years, a bargain was struck for the benefit of a non-public and confidential process of dispute resolution.”
However, Justice Smith said the documents, titled Annexure A, being disclosed in a private arbitration did not lead to absolute prohibition on the use for the other proceedings.
“To refuse Bianca and John leave to use these documents for the purpose of the conduct of their defences would hinder the achievement of doing justice to the parties in the curial proceedings.
“Having consented to the plaintiffs being able to use the Annexure A documents for their trial preparation, no proper basis has been put forward by the [Hancock Prospecting] parties or Gina as to why Bianca and John cannot use the documents for the same purpose.”
Descendants of Lang Hancock’s former business partners Peter Wright and Don Rhodes claimed they were owed royalties from the Hope Downs mines.
“To the contrary, fairness requires that Bianca and John have the same right to use the Annexure A documents as the plaintiffs,” she said in her judgment.
“Importantly, in the proper interests of the administration of justice, the [Hancock Prospecting] parties should not be allowed to act inconsistently between the plaintiffs and Bianca and John.”
Despite granting leave to Bianca and John to prepare their defences, Justice Smith said it did not prohibit Mrs Rinehart or any party from seeking a confidential regime over documents to be used in the main trial.