Confidential documents held by Adani will be shown to anti-mining activist Ben Pennings in a key court ruling that has been chalked up as a win by both parties.
In March, lawyers for the multinational mining giant applied to the Supreme Court to withhold information from Mr Pennings, including 350 confidential contracts it would refer to in its case, with documents only to be handed over to Mr Pennings’ lawyers.
That was despite Adani, which has rebranded itself as Bravus in Australia, alleging Mr Pennings had already received confidential information via his activism with anti-mining protest group Galilee Blockade, which sought to stop the coal and gas project in central Queensland.
That included a “dob-in campaign” that asked employees, contractors and third parties dealing with Adani to leak confidential information and was allegedly used to deter businesses from working with the company.
Adani and the Carmichael Rail Network launched legal action against Mr Pennings last year, accusing him of trespassing, breaches of contract, intimidation and conspiracy to injure.
In a judgment published on Thursday, Justice Sue Brown ordered examples of the documents be shown to Mr Pennings in his lawyer’s office, stating it was not sufficient for the defendant to give instructions to his lawyers about whether he had received confidential information without seeing it and for “them to work backwards”.
However, Justice Brown said there was a prima facie case the information in question was confidential and, despite Mr Pennings previously following court orders, his strong belief in the anti-Adani campaign meant there was a risk they would be misused.
She said that meant additional protections were needed, “notwithstanding the potential injustice” to Mr Pennings in not having full access to the material.
Justice Brown said Mr Pennings did not need to be shown every confidential document in order to respond and some information should be redacted, including pricing, names of contractors and proposed worksites.