The Supreme Court has formalised orders agreed out of court by both Adani and Ben Pennings in relation to a decision handed down on 25 June 2021.
The June ruling was in regards to whether Adani would be allowed to withhold key particulars of the civil case they have brought against Pennings.
Ben Pennings’ lawyer Kiera Peacock, partner at Marque Lawyers, said these orders confirm that Ben will be allowed to see the confidential information that underpins Adani’s allegations against him.
‘Adani had previously refused to contemplate a confidentiality regime which allowed Ben to see any of this material, asking the Court to make orders permanently banning him from being shown it.’
Five thousand people have donated to legal fund
Ben Pennings said Gautam Adani can always outspend him in court. ‘He has 60 billion dollars more than me. Five thousand concerned citizens have already donated to my legal fund and I’m excited to ultimately win this case on behalf of all Australians because it threatens our political freedom.’
On 27 August 2021, the Court will hear the remainder of the parties’ outstanding applications, including Ben’s application for Adani to provide further details of the allegations against him. The costs of those applications have been reserved. Based on the mixed success of the parties in the confidentiality fight, the Court ordered that Adani get 60 per cent of its costs of that fight.
Ben respects the Court’s decision and is considering the reasons provided by Judge Brown.
An Adani Australia spokesperson said the company is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision that Mr Pennings is required to pay Adani’s legal costs relating to the issue of protecting their confidential information.
‘This decision on costs follows the recent court decision that ensured Mr Pennings will not receive access to contractors confidential information, but would instead be provided redacted, restricted and supervised access to limited parts of our documentation.
‘This was expressly what we had asked the Court to order.’
Great lengths to ensure confidential information remains protected
The Adani Australia spokesperson said the company has gone to great lengths to ensure that their confidential commercial information, including the identity of our contractors, remains protected. ‘This decision, and the additional undertakings the Court required Mr Pennings to give, vindicates that effort.
‘We will now consider our next steps in respect to our larger legal case against Mr Pennings, where we claim that Mr Penning has orchestrated a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation against Adani’s business, employees, contractors and potential business partners spanning almost a decade.
‘We have previously made offers to Mr Pennings to settle this matter. We are always open to constructive discussion that may bring these proceedings to a close. We remain open to discussion, even after today’s Supreme Court orders.
Not about inflicting hardship on Mr Pennings
The spokesperson said this is not about inflicting hardship on Mr Pennings or his family. ‘Rather we are enforcing our rights to carry out our business and give regional Queenslanders a fair go in terms of jobs and contracting opportunities.
‘This legal action does not seek to limit free speech. As we have repeatedly stated, we believe a diversity of views is an important part of democracy.
‘And while this behaviour has had no immediate impact on our progress, it has put our employees, contractors and the activists themselves in potential danger.
‘Mr Pennings will have the opportunity to defend every claim put forward by Adani.’
Mr Pennings said Adani wanted him to defend himself in the Supreme Court without ever seeing specific allegations against him. ‘I’m happy I can now defend the case knowing exactly what Adani alleges.’