It’s good to see that Justice Neville Owen (who conducted the HIH Royal Commission) managed to maintain his sense of humour when he delivered his 2614 page judgment in Bell Group v Westpac [2008] WASC 239. The case was Australia’s longest running corporate insolvency case and occupied 404 days of hearing over a 5 year period, incurred legal costs of over $300M and involved the tender of 80,000 documents. His final comments were:

The trial: a final reflection

9759    I am not so naïve as to believe that the handing down of these reasons will mark the end of the litigation. But stranger things have happened. It is still not too late for the parties to put an end to this saga by a negotiated settlement, guided (perhaps) by the findings I have made. If formal judgment is never entered, or of there is a consent judgment on negotiated terms (whether or not they accord with what is contained in these reasons) I will be the last person to complain.

9760   Whatever the parties decide to do from here, my role in the litigation will come to an end in the near future. Selfish though it may seem, for me that is the primary concern. I will try to engender sympathy for those who come after me: but I make no promises.

9761   From time to time during the last five years I felt as if I were confined to an oubliette. There were occasions on which I thought the task of completing this case might be sempiternal. Fortunately, I have not yet been called upon to confront the infinite and, better still, a nepenthe beckons. Part of the nepenthe (which may even bear that name) is likely to involve a yeast based substance. It will most certainly involve a complete avoidance of making decisions and writing judgments.

9762   For the moment, in the words of Ovid (with an embellishment from the old Latin Mass): Iamque opus exegi, Deo gratias.i

i And now I have finished the work, thanks be to God.

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