No wonder Bruce Lehrmann followed through on his defamation case.

Bruce Lehrmann won't be needing to pay his own legal costs.

The legal firm behind Lehrmann's failed defamation lawsuit will receive no payment for more than a year of work on the high-stakes case after agreeing to a "no win, no fee" deal.

A Federal Court hearing was told this week that the former Liberal staffer also had no third-party financial backers in his long-running suit against Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson.

Lehrmann's defamation claim stemmed from a 2021 interview by Wilkinson with Brittany Higgins about allegations she was raped in Parliament House following a night out in 2019.

Watch: Lisa Wilkinson hails Bruce Lehrmann verdict outside court. Post continues below.

Video via 10 News First.

Justice Michael Lee ruled in favour of Ten and Wilkinson in April. Justice Lee said: "Mr Lehrmann raped Ms Higgins," Network Ten and Wilkinson winning their truth defence. 

The Judge determined that Network Ten's lawyers had established, on the balance of probabilities, that Lehrmann had non-consensual sexual intercourse with Higgins in Minister Reynolds' office in 2019. Being a civil proceeding, a defamation trial works on the balance of probabilities, rather than the higher standard of beyond reasonable doubt used in criminal prosecutions.


Lawyers from Mark O'Brien Legal produced a statement divulging Lehrmann's arrangements with them saying Lehrmann had a conditional costs agreement with the firm, which meant he had no obligation to pay in the event the proceedings were unsuccessful. 

Firm principal Paul Svilans noted there was also no third party to the agreement who agreed to pay the legal fees if the court claim was unsuccessful.

On Friday this week, a judgement will be made over how much of Ten and Wilkinson's legal costs Lehrmann will be forced to pay. Justice Lee's decision will be live-streamed due to the public interest in the case.

It has been previously indicated that Lehrmann would likely be responsible for paying at least some of Ten's costs after Justice Lee labelled Lehrmann's conduct throughout the litigation "disgraceful".

In accordance with an earlier court ruling, Ten will be liable for the cost of Wilkinson retaining her own legal representation, which it can also seek to claim from Lehrmann as a legal expense. Ten and Wilkinson separately retained some of the nation's most highly sought-after lawyers, which could lift Lehrmann's liability for repaying their costs into the millions of dollars.


Previously speaking with Mamamia, criminal justice and media law expert Professor Rick Sarre said about the case: "Lehrmann will be very much out of pocket at the moment. Typically, the winning side gets their costs paid by the losing side."

In submissions on costs made public last month, Ten's lawyer described Lehrmann pursuing the defamation claim as "deliberately wicked and calculated".

"Mr Lehrmann engaged in an abuse of the court's processes, ran a case based on positive falsities and put Network Ten to the cost of defending a baseless proceeding," the lawyer wrote.

Lehrmann has always maintained his innocence and hasn't been convicted of any crime.

With AAP.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Mamamia is a charity partner of RizeUp Australia, a national organisation that helps women, children and families move on after the devastation of domestic and family violence. Their mission is to deliver life-changing and practical support to these families when they need it most. If you would like to support their mission you can donate here

Feature Image: AAP.