Gunns 20 trial update

Gunns Ltd's case against the remaining Gunns 20 defendants will go to trial in February 2010, more than five years after the first writs were originally served in December 2004.

The case is now before Justice Forrest who has estimated that the trial, when it finally arrives, will run for up to five weeks. He has determined that the trial will be heard before a judge only, no jury.

The case has already cost an estimated $3 million and is likely to cost much more by the end. It is already considered the longest running and most expensive case of its kind in Australia's legal history.

The Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) is embarking on one of its largest campaigns ever. Starting on the 2nd Feb 2010, the HVEC will be defending itself from a legal attack by Gunns Ltd in a Victorian Supreme Court trial, as part of the Gunns 20 case.

For more than nine years HVEC has been at the forefront of the defence of Tasmania's wild southern forests, with the threatened wilderness of the Weld Valley as a focal point. Our work is now under threat as Gunns Ltd is seeking damages and a share in more than 3million dollars in their costs.

We need your help. Huon Valley Environment Centre is asking for your donations to fund expenses including accommodation, travel, communications, telephone, computer and video. Our treasurer and co-founder Jenny Weber will represent the Centre at court. I am a defendant also and will be fighting Gunns in separate allegations. The case is estimated to last for 20 court days.

Gunns Ltd, a billion dollar company who log and woodchip ancient forests in Tasmania, have sued more than 33 people, ranging from politicians, film makers, grandmothers and community campaigners. Your support, no matter how little, will go a long way to make sure these corporate bullies do not win. We will not be silenced, with your continue support we will continue to defend Tasmania’s ancient wilderness forests.

For the forests,
Adam Burling
Huon Valley Environment Centre

11.11.09 Gunns20 defendants self-represent

Four of the remaining defendants in the ‘Gunns 20’ civil case today served notice in the Victorian Supreme Court that they will self represent at the February 2010 trial.

At the Annual General Meeting of Gunns Ltd in Launceston today, a question was asked from the floor as to whether Gunns Ltd were aware of this, and how they think this will affect Gunns’ image nationally and overseas. Chairman John Gay estimated that the company had spent over $2.8 million on the case to date, admitting that the case was damaging their image but said he was not prepared to have people attack his company.

“Gunns have sued 33 people and spent over $3 million dollars targetting anyone who dared speak against their destruction of Tasmania’s wild forests. Just to defend yourself in this type of civil case can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, self representing is one of the only options that most ordinary people have in these situations,” said Adam Burling, Gunns20 defendant #1

“As defendants we will be up against, a ruthless billion dollar company and their team of expensive lawyers, but in the end nothing will deter me from standing up for Tasmania’s ancient forests,” said Mr Burling.

Louise Morris self representing defendant said “After almost five years of this multi-million dollar lawsuit from Gunns Ltd dragging on I decided it was time that I, as an individual being sued, tackle this case head on, as an individual and self represent. This is clearly not a decision I have taken lightly. This trial will be a highly stressful and arduous process, but I think it is worth it to protect our right to free speech – and basic civil liberties.”

Friday 13 November lawyers for Adam Burling, Louise Morris, Neal Funnell and Lou Geraghty will appear in the Victorian Supreme court to announce they will cease to act for these defendants who from now on will undertake the case as self represented defendants.

13.11.09 Self-representation opposed by Gunns Ltd lawyers.

Gunns Ltd’s lawyers today in court opposed individual defendants seeking self-representation. Saying that the court ‘ought not allow’ it as it would effect the administration of the trial negatively.

“Nothing will deter me from defending my right to free speech and protest. Tasmania’s ancient forests are too precious to back down in the face of a corporate bully like Gunns Ltd," said defendant #1 Adam Burling.

"At their AGM this week Gunns Ltd claimed they had spent $2.8 million on the Gunns 20 case. This is likely a very conservative estimate, given they have paid out over $1 million in costs to defendants and gone through three legal teams since they started this law suit.

Running this case through trial is likely to add another $1 million to the costs. Gunns Ltd appears to have very deep pockets when it comes to pursuing individuals and community groups who oppose their destruction of Tasmania's native forest," said Mr Burling

More info:



my understanding from reading the media is that the Huon Valley Environment Centre will be represented by lawyers and a legal team pro-bono - or for free.

is it not the four individual defendants in Lou Geraghty, Louise Morris, Neal Funnel and Adam Burling (HVEC member& office holder) who are self representing?

current posting re HVEC and the media/Gunns 20 webpage are a bit confusing.

good luck either way and we support the four people self representing - and the environment centre of course.