Gina Rinehart's lawyers yesterday cried foul about Wright Prospecting not launching a claim for a 25 per cent stake in the rich Hope Downs 4 iron ore mine until after the death last April of long-time director Michael Wright.
Pushing for the Supreme Court to throw out Wright's claim over the newest Hope Downs mine, lawyer Peter Brereton claimed the Wright clan had failed to explain delays acting on matters dating back more than 20 years.
Mr Brereton said a person would have thought there would be outrage from Mr Wright when Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting unveiled the Hope Downs joint venture with Rio Tinto in 2005. Wright principals were aware that Hancock was acting in supposedly "brazen defiance" of its rights but did nothing about it until August last year. Wright launched a Supreme Court action in September claiming ownership of tenements known as Hope Downs 4-6 under an alleged trust arrangement dating back to before the death in 1985 of patriarch Peter Wright, the partner of Mrs Rinehart's late father Lang Hancock.
This is separate to an unresolved claim by Wright to royalties from Hancock's Hope Downs 1 joint venture with Rio and a successful claim to Hancock's stake in the Rhodes Ridge deposit.
In the Hope Downs 4-6 case, Wright has pointed to minutes of a business briefing Mr Hancock gave to Peter Wright's children shortly after the partner's death.
Mr Hancock reportedly said the tenements were assets of the partnership but were being held in the Hancock Prospecting's name.
Lawyer Allan Myers said Hancock had refused to hand over important partnership records, including the diaries of late Hanwright employee Kevin Dalby.
The case could not be dismissed on the basis of delay when all the facts of the case were unavailable.
Justice Rene Le Miere reserved his decision.The Court of Appeal yesterday made final orders in the Rhodes Ridge case, giving Wright a half share of the joint venture with Rio and awarding it legal costs.
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