Wilkinson still at odds with Ten

Lisa Wilkinson is still at odds with Network 10 on the issue of her legal costs. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

Network 10 and its former star Lisa Wilkinson remain at loggerheads over the journalist’s legal bill incurred in successfully defending its high-stakes defamation battle against Bruce Lehrmann.

Justice Michael Lee, in a highly-anticipated judgment, last week dismissed Lehrmann’s lawsuit against Network 10 and Ms Wilkinson after finding, on the balance of probabilities, that the ex-Liberal staffer raped his former colleague Brittany Higgins inside Parliament House in March 2019.

The matter will return to court next week to decide what portion of Network 10 and Ms Wilkinson’s legal costs will be paid by Lehrmann.

Total costs for the trial have been estimated to be as high as $10m.

During the course of the trial, Ms Wilkinson and Network 10 were involved in a cross-claim over the journalist’s decision to hire her own counsel, respected and high-profile silk Sue Chrysanthou SC.

Justice Lee ruled in February that it was reasonable for Ms Wilkinson to retain her own legal counsel.

Lisa Wilkinson is still at odds with Network 10 on the issue of her legal costs. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

Network 10, in its written submissions on the subject of costs, earlier this week said it did not have to pick up the bill for Ms Wilkinson’s legal costs which were “unnecessarily duplicative or wasteful”.

The broadcaster’s barrister Matt Collins argued Ms Wilkinson was obliged to be “prudent” and “reasonable” in her costs, and not run up a legal bill “on the assumption that Network Ten would ultimately pick up the bill”.

Network 10 is asking the court to appoint a referee to comb through the legal bills incurred by the former host of The Project to decide whether the specified costs were reasonable.

The broadcaster acknowledged it was liable for the costs Ms Wilkinson amassed while fighting Lehrmann’s claim for damages over her infamous Logies speech and running the defence of qualified privilege.

Bruce Lehrmann’s lawsuit against Network 10 was dismissed. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

Dr Collins asserted “different considerations” should apply to the journalist’s accumulation of costs in defence of common issues, such as the use of the truth defence.

In further submissions published by the court on Wednesday, Ms Wilkinson’s lawyers argued Network 10 was liable for any “reasonably incurred costs determined on the solicitor-client basis”.

They said Network 10’s contention that Ms Wilkinson’s legal bill should be decided on a “common” or “non-common” issues basis had previously been dismissed by the court as part of the cross-claim, and that the broadcaster was “impermissibly” seeking “to reagitate that issue”.

They sought orders that, in the event the two parties could not agree on an amount, the court appoint a “referee” to determine how much of Ms Wilkinson’s legal bill Network 10 was liable for.

The matter will return to court next Wednesday.