06 December 2002
Melbourne, 6 December 2002: Mr David Fagan, Chief Executive Partner of Clayton Utz, today issued the following statement:
Clayton Utz has welcomed the Victorian Court of Appeal's decision to uphold the Appeal against the ruling of the Victorian Supreme Court in the matter of McCabe v BATAS.
The Court of Appeal has exonerated Clayton Utz, and senior partner, Brian Wilson, of any wrong doing in relation to advice given by the firm to BATAS in relation to document management.
Mr Fagan said the Court of Appeal decision stated that:
· There was no evidence to justify the finding that Clayton Utz devised a strategy for the destruction of documents or inserted words in the defendant's policy for the destruction of documents in order to claim that it existed for innocent purposes. The solicitors did no more than review the policy and give advice as to its legal consequences. (Synopsis of judgment)
· The finding that Clayton Utz, through Brian Wilson, devised a strategy in 1990 in which BATAS was advised that it could destroy documents relevant to anticipated litigation and assert an innocent intention was not justified. (para 90 of judgment)
· It agreed with the submission that Mr Wilson's letter of advice of 29 March 1990 was not only legally correct, but was entirely appropriate. (para 91 of judgment)
· It was unjustified to describe the Oxland notes as notes which Mr Wilson "might have thought were never likely to see the light of day" for there was nothing to indicate that Mr Wilson ever saw the notes, or approved them let alone concurred with them. (para 93 of judgment)
"I would like to thank our clients, partners and staff for their ongoing support. As one of Australia's pre-eminent law firms Clayton Utz remains committed to upholding our reputation for providing clients with the highest standards of professional and ethical advice," Mr Fagan said.
"We have a national reputation for the quality of our advice to the corporate and government sectors. At the core of our values is the integrity of that advice. Our partners and staff have been, and are, committed to these values."
"We look forward to continuing to provide our clients with outstanding professional service."