Having lost its attempt to have the liquidator of Buzzle removed, Apple is now locked in battle over who will pay the legal costs for the action.
In the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, the barrister for liquidator Armstrong Wiley, Murray Aldridge, argued that Apple should bear the cost for the case as it was a “gratuitous add-on” to the protracted legal battle over the administration of the failed reseller group.
There were never any grounds to support Apple’s applications to have Wily removed as liquidator, or for having his actions investigated, Aldridge said.
Apple’s legal action had amounted to a “high risk strategy” aimed at deferring or delaying the administrator’s examination, he said.
In addition to seeking an award for legal costs, Armstrong Wily submitted a claim for “liquidator’s costs”, effectively seeking remuneration for the liquidator for time spent on the case.
“Neither the liquidator or unsecured creditors should be out of pocket,” Aldridge said.
Acting for Apple, Clayton Utz partner, David Cowling, rejected the suggestion that Apple’s action against Armstrong Wily had been without substance. He also argued against the liquidator’s claim for remuneration, as distinct from legal costs, as “wrong as a matter of law”.
Last month Justice Barrett rejected Apple’s claim that the Buzzle liquidator had been biased against it, finding that claims about Apple’s role in Buzzle were “ripe for investigation” by Wily.
Apple brought the current case against Wily last year to try to prevent his investigation of Apple executives and their possible role in the Buzzle collapse. The liquidator had also intended to investigate allegations that Apple had channel stuffed and supplied Buzzle with defective stock.
The case continues on September 29.