Neil Balnaves, the skipper of the Bayliner cruiser returning from Couran Cove that collided head-on with a speedboat on a narrow bend in the Coomera River in February 2002, has been ordered to pay the opposite party’s costs of his 5-day personal injury trial in July that saw him win $85,000, a fraction of the amount he had claimed.
As executive chairman of Southern Star productions (“SSG”) – producer of the Australian TV phenomenon, Big Brother – his claim was pitched at more than $3 mil. Balnaves was found 65% at fault for the collision and his claimed financial deficits were found not to be entirely attributable to the accident.
The Supreme Court ruling on costs this month, reveals that he had refused a settlement offer of $300,000 plus costs in September 2008.
Having failed to secure a result that was “more favourable” to him than the amount offered, the court ruled that the defendant pay his legal costs up to the date of the offer but that Balnaves must pay all of the opposite party’s legals, including substantial costs of the trial itself, from then on.