Melbourne`s Top Legal Eagles

On July 27, Supreme Court Justice John Dixon began the final act of this legal tragedy. Norman O`Bryan was born to become a lawyer. His grandfather, Sir Norman, and his father, Norman, were eminent jurists who sat with distinction on the Supreme Court of Victoria. Although they were asked to send all the documents to their lawyer and son Chris, a trial server appeared in their home – an act clearly intended to intimidate them. It was the legal version of a horse`s head in bed. “They wanted to charge ridiculous amounts just to distribute funds,” says former nurse Wendy Botsman. But when those legal guns backfired after she refused to accept her outrageous demands, she had someone on her side ready to fight back. These actions can take years and require a third financier – financiers (players in striped suits) who invest millions to pay legal fees in exchange for a share of the final settlement. But that legal plane crashed into a fireball of greed, deceit, and intimidation — shredded in the very courtroom where his family had built an impeccable reputation for more than 100 years. On January 30, 2018, he approved the $64 million settlement and ordered Elliott`s company to receive $12.8 million (plus GST) and the legal team $4.75 million (plus GST).

In one document, O`Bryan joked that he was asking for less than Jopling. The difference was that Jopling earned his fees. Behind the scenes, some legal heavyweights tried to convince Jopling not to rock the boat, but he was not deterred. Jopling said that far from getting nearly $20 million, they should get nothing, pay compensation to their clients and pay legal fees. In many cases, people harmed by big business don`t have the money for a lengthy legal battle, and companies just look down on them. But if there are thousands of victims, they can unite in a lawsuit on behalf of a lead plaintiff. They can get justice without additional financial risk. So Elliott refined his model. It would transfer much of the legal work to another firm and fund the process through Australian Funding Partners Limited. He owned 76% of the AFPL and the rest belonged to Norman O`Bryan`s wife, SC.

In his truncated and cultured voice, Jopling explained how Elliott wanted to demand $20 million and how the bills were forged. He even read a text by Elliott about plans to “double-cross” the recipients who had done most of the work. Why did O`Bryan surrender? Perhaps he finally saw that, blinded by greed, he had not acted in the best interests of his clients, perhaps at the end of a trial he saw a bill of over $3 million that he had to lose, or perhaps he knew that trying to maintain the fantasy inspired by Elliott would force him to appear in court. in which his father and grandfather had presided with such distinction to perjury. Not that the younger O`Bryan had an easy life because of his bloodlines. He possessed a brilliant legal mind, the necessary work ethic and an unwavering confidence that would lead him to the top of the family business. Elliott, O`Bryan and others engaged in a million-dollar legal deception, and they would have gotten away with it if it weren`t for a retired nurse from Adelaide and a curious former bus driver from Ballarat, who saw what a number of courts could not do – that something was wrong with the $64 million case – and refused. to be silenced. In such a case, the court may appoint a rebel – a person who reviews all the bills. The case continued and there was eventually a settlement of $64 million (after the beneficiaries took their fees). Then it was up to a court to decide what was fair to Elliott`s finance company.

“It was very stressful,” says Botsman, 73, “but Chris was very calming.” Then the courts intervened. A judge would decide what was an appropriate reduction (usually between 20 and 30%) of the final prize pool, taking into account the money spent and the risks taken. “If O`Bryan were ever challenged, he would always give in,” says one colleague. For smart lawyers, the Elliott team was particularly stupid. Jopling was exactly the wrong kind of person to bully. Pitman says, “If Chris hadn`t taken it back, none of this would have been revealed.” There was a lot of money to be made, but for Elliott, it was never enough. He had a plan; Not so much a ploy, get rich fast, but even richer. Norman O`Bryan in court at a meeting of lawyers in the 2013 Banksia Securities class action lawsuit.Credit: Aaron Sawall Elliott wanted to redefine these big cases with a smart, unique and, as we`ll see, completely illegal business model. When done right, class action lawsuits meant compensating victims, punishing unethical or lax companies, rewarding funders, and delivering justice. When she said O`Bryan could not act as lead counsel as long as his family owned shares in the finance company, he promised to sell that stake. The Father.

Norman O`Bryan Sr. in 1971 before the Supreme Court. Source: Office developments with gyms and grocery stores, as well as proximity to the William Street and Southern Cross Station courts, have drawn law firms west, according to Stuart Colquhoun, head of office leasing at JLL. The appointment of Peter Jopling, Q.C., as an adversary would prove to be a masterpiece. The two lead lawyers had opposite styles. Jopling used the “helicopter view” and outlined his case before returning to the forensic details. Elliott filed 18 class action lawsuits, but one that seemed particularly juicy was Banksia Securities, a Kyabram company that financed real estate and development projects. It had raised $663 million from 15,622 investors (mostly retirees from the country) when it sank like the Titanic in 2012.