NEWS HOPES FOR APPEAL HEARING NEXT MONTH
LEAGUE SUPER FEDERAL
By Bruce Walkley of AAP
SYDNEY, March 14 AAP - News Limited lawyers are hoping their
appeal against the worldwide ban on Super League will be heard as
early as next month.
The appeal, listing more than 50 grounds on which News claims
the judgment of Justice James Burchett should be overturned, was
expected to be lodged with the Federal Court late today.
Justice Daryl Davies, who presided at a full bench hearing which
gave News leave to appeal yesterday, said the next full court
sittings were set down for May.
But he ordered that the Super League appeal be expedited, which
a highly placed News Limited source said today could mean a hearing
might be able to begin in April.
News will be relying heavily on overturning Justice Burchett's
findings that the arrangements between the Australian Rugby League,
the New South Wales Rugby League and their 20 clubs comprised a
The judge found, when discussing the association between the
leagues and the clubs, that there were "features distinguishing it
from an ordinary commercial joint venture or partnership".
The News Limited case, in which it sought to establish that
five-year agreements between the leagues and the clubs, signed in
November 1994 and February last year, were in breach of the Trade
Practices Act, foundered as a result.
News chief executive Ken Cowley referred in a statement on
Monday to "the fundamental unsoundness" of the judge's joint
He added that News had received legal opinions from senior
counsel, brought in to take a "fresh look" at the case, that the
joint venture findings were wrong.
Cowley said a significant legal precedent on which News would
rely in its appeal was the US Surgical case, in which the High
Court reversed the findings of lower courts about the existence of
a joint venture giving rise to fiduciary obligations.
In that case, an American company called US Surgical, which
manufactured surgical staples, sued its Australian distributor,
Hospital Products, which had set up in competition with it.
The American company claimed there had been a joint venture
giving rise to fiduciary obligations, but Hospital Products claimed
only a contractual relationship had xisted between them.
The High Court overturned judgments in the Supreme Court of NSW
and the NSW Court of Appeal which had found in favour of the
News will also be attacking Justice Burchett's finding that
there was no separate market for rugby league, which operated in a
wider market involving sports and entertainments.
Meanwhile lawyers for the ARL, as they prepared today for the
appeal hearing, were keeping a close watch on developments related
to attempts by Super League players to ty to set up their own
They said News Limited would be in contempt of the court's
orders if it allowed the players to take part in any competition
not authorised by the ARL.
The ARL was also closely monitoring contractual arrangements
with ground managers, which are also affected by the court's
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