The Victorian Government in Australia is to seek leave to intervene in the High Court case of McCabe v British American Tobacco (BAT), after fresh allegations last week by a former in-house counsel.
Secretary and legal counsel of WD&HO Wills (now part of BAT) Frederick Gulson has signed an affidavit alleging that his company sanitised reports in relation to document retention. As a result, Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls said that, on the advice of the Solicitor General, he would now seek leave to intervene in the case.
In March last year, claimant Rolah McCabe won a landmark payout from BAT in the Victorian Supreme Court. The judgment by Justice Geoff Eames was not only critical of BAT, but also for firms that had advised on its document retention policy – Clayton Utz, and to a lesser degree other firms including UK adviser Lovell White Durrant (now Lovells).
However, Eames’ decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal, with the company and firms cleared of any wrongdoing. The children of McCabe, who has since died, are to appeal the matter in the High Court.
A statement by Clayton Utz said that the firm could not comment on the case, but wished to point out that the Court of Appeal “comprehensively exonerated” the firm and partners of any improper behaviour.
Lovells said it was not in a position to comment.