The High Court has today handed down its decision on whether to set aside a ‘perfected judgment’ in the Players Pty Ltd Liquidation.
The Court held that the power to set aside a ‘perfected judgment’:
(a) requires actual fraud (although there are some discrete other reasons not in issue); but
(b) does not require the innocent party to exercise reasonable diligence to discover the fraud or misconduct.
The alleged misconduct related to allegations of malpractice on the part of lawyers in not taking reasonable steps to disclose important documents in the original trial.
Both the court at first instance and the Appeal Court held that the malpractice amounted to misconduct, such that the original trial should be set aside.
The High Court has applied a narrower approach, much to the dismay of Players.
The Court commented that this case was “a good illustration of the need for a strict approach to finality” of judgment.
The facts involved relate back 25 years ago and the original trial was 13 years ago…!!