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Court orders anti-coal activist to pay hefty legal costs

Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings
Galilee Blockade protestor Ben Pennings

An anti-mining activist has to compensate a mining giant for extra expenses.

Brisbane Supreme Court ordered Ben Pennings to cover most of Bravus Mining and Resources’ legal costs. The amount payable is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The decision came after the Galilee Blockade protestor unsuccessfully delayed paying the proponent’s lawyer fees. His request for the company, formerly known as Adani Australia, to cover some of his legal expenses was refused.

“Mr Pennings must now pay 60 per cent of Adani’s legal costs of the first application, 80 per cent of Adani’s legal costs of the second application, and 66 per cent of Adani’s legal costs of the third application,” Bravus said in a public statement.

“These costs are in addition to the orders that require Mr Pennings to pay 60 per cent of Adani’s legal costs, following his unsuccessful attempt to gain access to our confidential information early in 2021. Adani is not required to pay any of Mr Pennings’ legal costs.”

Pennings is still fighting other allegations about posting unauthorised recordings of Bravus employees, and using social media to pressure the proponent into abandoning the $2 billion Carmichael Coal Project, about 160km northwest of Clermont. These matters are expected to go to trial before the end of 2022.

“We allege Mr Pennings has orchestrated a sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation against Adani’s business, employees, contractors and potential business partners, spanning almost a decade,” the employer said.

“Mr Pennings has stated publicly on various occasions that he has information about our business, which he obtained as part of his ‘dob in a contractor’ campaign. Adani claims he has used this information to undertake harassment and intimidation of our employees and contractors.”

Stop Adani predicts the dispute could take years to resolve, and invited donations to help support Pennings’ legal defence.

“Adani’s legal attack on Ben could go on for two more years, we cannot let Adani get away with intimidating and silencing community opposition–chip in to support Ben’s ongoing fight,” the group said on Facebook.

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