Bruce Lehrmann ordered to pay Network Ten $2 million by Federal Court

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun27,2024
This article contains references to sexual assault.
Bruce Lehrmann has been ordered to pay $2 million to Network Ten after losing his defamation case against the network.
But the 29-year-old is unlikely to ever hand over the sum after a court was told he had little ability to pay.
In April, justice Michael Lee found a report aired on Network Ten’s program The Project in February 2021 did not defame Lehrmann.
The Federal Court judge in the Parliament House office of their then-boss, senator Linda Reynolds, in March 2019.
A woman in a white coat walking while surrounded by camera operators.

Ten may pay $558,000 of the $1.8 million legal costs Lisa Wilkinson sought, the court has been told. Source: AAP / Bianca De Marchi

Lehrmann denies that any sexual activity occurred between himself and Higgins and has appealed Lee’s findings against him.

He is not facing criminal charges over the incident after his trial was aborted due to juror misconduct and prosecutors declined to push forward with a retrial.
On Thursday, Lee finalised Ten’s bill against Lehrmann after the network agreed to discount the funds it had sought and quickly resolve the dispute.
Ten’s overall legal expenses for defending the case amounted to almost $3.7 million, the court heard.
But after Justice Lee found the network had and Ten also lost out in some preliminary legal bids, the amount payable by Lehrmann was reduced to approximately $3.1 million.

Ten agreed to bill Lehrmann for a flat rate of $2 million after a hefty discount was applied, the network’s barrister Zoe Graus said on Thursday.

While Lehrmann did not consent to or oppose the order, his lawyer Paul Svilans told the court he did not know enough about how Ten’s lawyers had been paid to know whether the discounted amount was realistic.
“It might be the deal of the century, the $2 million, for all I know,” he told the court.
Justice Lee approved the amount, finding it was well within the amount that would have been recoverable given the complexity and length of the lawsuit.
But he noted Lehrmann was “a man of modest means” and he could pay the substantial bill.

It has previously been revealed that the 29-year-old had no financial backers in the case.

A lawyer in formal court attire.

Ten’s barrister Matt Collins charged $11,000 a day during the trial. Source: AAP / Mick Tsikas

Lehrmann will also not have to pay the costs of his lawyers, who were representing him on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis.

Ten was willing to pay around $558,000 to journalist Lisa Wilkinson for her legal costs after she was also sued in the lawsuit, Graus said.
The network had initially offered to pay its former high-profile journalist $607,000 in a compromise position that was later deemed “over-generous”, Justice Lee was told.

The judge previously heard that Wilkinson would seek $1.8 million in costs.

However, uncertainty about her agreement with law firm Gillis Delaney meant her legal bill would be assessed by a referee to determine how much Ten should cover and what should be passed on to Lehrmann.
If this amount was less than $558,000, Wilkinson would have to repay the excess money, Graus said.
Wilkinson’s top defamation barrister Sue Chrysanthou charged $8,000 for each day at trial while Ten’s barrister Matt Collins charged $11,000 per day.
If this story has raised any issues for you, help is available at Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you or someone you know wants to talk about sexual assault or harassment, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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