Former Lismore mayor Jeff Champion still in quarry fight
QUARRY operators owing about $530,000 in disputed legal costs have been awarded $20 in damages after counter-suing their former lawyers.
The disputed bill is still outstanding.
Champions Quarry owner and former Lismore mayor Jeff Champion hired Burrell Solicitors in two failed Land and Environment Court efforts to gain approval to expand operations in 2010.
The project finally got the green light after three years of legal grappling, when the NSW Government declared it a state-significant development and overrode Lismore City Council's rejections.
Six years have passed since the lawyers were first hired.
The quarry, trading under the name Reavill Farm, paid more than $350,000 in legal bills, but a costs assessor determined about $350,000 was still owing.
Burrell Solicitors sued for the unsettled payment, only to be counter-sued for misrepresenting the likely costs.
NSW Supreme Court Justice Richard White found the lawyers had initially underestimated the legal costs in a deliberate and misleading attempt to secure Mr Champion's business.
But the true costs were soon made clear, and the quarry operators still opted to retain the law firm.
Justice White rejected Mr Champion's claim the solicitors had agreed to work for $10,000 a month.
He added that although the Land and Environment Court proceedings were unsuccessful, expert reports the lawyers obtained helped gain the quarry expansion's ultimate approval.
Burrell Solicitors was ordered to pay "nominal" damages of $20 for breach of contract, and all other claims against them were dismissed.
The matter was stood over so further arguments on costs could be heard. - ARM NEWSDESK