Martin’s $10k a day for Bell Group ad­vice

The West Australian - - NEWS - Peter de Krui­jff, Gary Ad­shead and Tim Clarke

Re­tired chief jus­tice Wayne Martin is be­ing paid $10,000 a day by the State Gov­ern­ment for work­ing one day a week on a le­gal saga dubbed a “lawyers’ de­gus­ta­tion” by At­tor­ney-Gen­eral John Quigley.

The two-year Bell Group lit­i­ga­tion con­sul­tancy is po­ten­tially worth $520,000 a year to Mr Martin, which is more than he earnt as the most se­nior judge in WA, and will be paid on top of his an­nual pen­sion of about $300,000.

Be­cause the 65-year-old re­ceives a pen­sion, un­der law he can only of­fer strate­gic ad­vice to the State rather than le­gal ad­vice on how to end the 23-year-old le­gal quag­mire be­ing over­seen by the In­sur­ance Com­mis­sion of WA.

“The con­sul­tancy agree­ment be­tween ICWA and Mr Martin was not ne­go­ti­ated by my­self but by ICWA, which is an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion,” Mr Quigley said.

He had pre­vi­ously de­scribed the long-run­ning case as a “lawyers’ pic­nic” when the le­gal bill passed $200 mil­lion and it was es­ti­mated that it would reach $400 mil­lion if the case was un­re­solved by 2025.

“It’s be­come more like a de­gus­ta­tion,” Mr Quigley said yesterday.

“The Bell lit­i­ga­tion is im­mensely com­plex and I have been ad­vised it could run for an­other 10 years if we don’t deal with it de­ci­sively.”

The long-run­ning case fol­lowed the col­lapse of Alan Bond’s Bell Group and de­spite there be­ing a set­tle­ment for $1.8 bil­lion in 2013, there has been no res­o­lu­tion with cred­i­tors, in­clud­ing the ICWA and the Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice.

The Op­po­si­tion called on Mr Quigley to ex­plain how the pub­lic is get­ting value for money “by pay­ing a le­gal ex­pert $1 mil­lion for 104 days work when that work specif­i­cally ex­cludes pro­vid­ing le­gal ad­vice”.

“It is ex­tra­or­di­nary that the State Gov­ern­ment would em­ploy one of the State’s pre-em­i­nent le­gal minds to specif­i­cally not pro­vide le­gal ad­vice,” shadow at­tor­ney-gen­eral Michael Mischin said.

“In Op­po­si­tion, Mr Quigley was very loud in his crit­i­cism of the money spent on the Bell lit­i­ga­tion.”

A sec­ond lawyer as­signed to the case with Mr Martin is re­ceiv­ing $450 an hour for work­ing up to four days a week over two years.

“The com­plex­i­ties of the liq­ui­da­tions, the events in­volv­ing the com­pa­nies dur­ing the 1980s and the lit­i­ga­tion over the decades war­rants the en­gage­ment of a range of ex­pe­ri­enced le­gal and strate­gic ad­vis­ers,” an ICWA spokesman said.

Mr Quigley said Mr Martin’s $10,000 once-aweek deal was “com­men­su­rate with fees charged by a se­nior re­tired ju­di­cial of­fi­cer for mediation or ar­bi­tra­tion work which does not re­quire a Le­gal Prac­tis­ing Cer­tifi­cate”.

“Mr Martin does not hold a Le­gal Prac­tis­ing Cer­tifi­cate,” Mr Quigley said.

The for­mer chief jus­tice de­clined to com­ment.

For­mer chief jus­tice Wayne Martin is be­ing paid $10,000 for one day’s work a week.

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