Adamson v Ede – the saga continues

I have commented on this legal saga in the past (also a passing reference here).

One thing which keeps the saga going is the enthusiasm and capacity of Mr Adamson, who is a solicitor, to keep prosecuting his claims and, in particular, contesting any adverse judgments by taking them on appeal.

Recently the Court of Appeal has handed down two judgments on two such appeals. They are Adamson v Ede [2009] NSWCA 379 and Adamson v Ede [2009] NSWCA 403.

The first of these rescues for posterity a matter which I was actually present in court for. Adamson was representing his company (in that case, acting as a solicitor) as well as acting for himself in person. The defendant was seeking to make a relatively last minute amendment of his defence at the commencement of the trial. The relevant question was therefore whether the amendment should be allowed or whether it was too prejudicial to Mr Adamson as a plaintiff at this stage in the proceedings. Mr Adamson could have attempted an argument about this, but he took a more tricky, rules-based approach. He claimed that he had not been served with the proposed amended defence. I remember this quite distinctly because he kept on harping on the question of whether he had been served (which is a conclusion of law) and ducking the question of whether it had in fact been provided to him. It turned out ultimately that he considered he had not been served the amended defence because at the time he received it (a good month earlier) the solicitor from whom it came had not yet served on him a “Notice of change of solicitor” which would have indicated that it was the solicitor on the record for the defendant in the proceedings.

It’s the sort of point an auto-litigant might take but not one which is calculated to impress a judge, especially if made by a solicitor, and especially as Mr Bilinsky, Mr Ede’s new solicitor, had previously appeared opposite Mr Adamson at an interlocutory hearing. It’s not as if he was unaware that, formalities aside, Mr Bilinsky was acting for Mr Ede.

Here’s the bit of the Court of Appeal judgment which sets out some of the relevant transcript:

122 The first day of the hearing was on 26 November 2007. Early that day, Mr Sirtes applied to amend the defence and to file an affidavit of Mr Ede dated 24 October 2007. Mr Adamson opposed that application. A draft of that defence and a copy of that affidavit had been given to Mr Adamson by someone from Mr Bilinsky’s office, on 25 October 2007. Mr Adamson strenuously submitted to the judge that he had not been served with those documents, because he had not been served with any document saying that Mr Bilinsky had become the solicitor on the record for Mr Ede. Mr Adamson’s contention to the judge was that, when he received those documents on the 25th, he handed them to an assistant, saying: “Hold the document until I receive notice of a change of solicitor”. An affidavit of service from Mr Bilinsky’s assistant was read deposing that on the 25th “I met with Mr Adamson and I gave him the documents”. The following exchange eventuated:

ADAMSON: That is a different matter from me reading the documents. They came to me a day after they were supposed to and from a firm which I didn’t recognise as the solicitor on the record. Why should I have looked at the document until today? I didn’t even know they were the solicitor on the record until today.
HIS HONOUR: There is no merit in anything you have said so far. I propose to allow the document to be filed. Firstly, notice of those was given and, on the evidence, served on 25 October, which is more than a month before the hearing commenced.
Secondly, the matters alleged are basically legal matters, not factual matters.
ADAMSON: I am not admitting service.
HIS HONOUR: You don’t have to admit service.”

123 Mr Adamson continued to protest that he had not been served. The transcript continues:

“HIS HONOUR: You have had that affidavit, haven’t you?
ADAMSON: I haven’t read any documents.
HIS HONOUR: I said you have had it, have you not?
ADAMSON: I haven’t been served with it. I don’t propose to give any evidence over the bar table.
HIS HONOUR: Mr Adamson, I am asking you, have you had it?
ADAMSON: Are you ordering me to reply?
HIS HONOUR: Yes.
ADAMSON: You are ordering me to reply whether I have had it?
HIS HONOUR: Yes, you are a solicitor.
ADAMSON: Had what?
HIS HONOUR: The affidavit of 24 October.
ADAMSON: It was handed to me and I handed it to Mr Maskell, my associate. I have not read the affidavit.
HIS HONOUR: That is your problem.”

124 A little later, Mr Adamson said of the proposed amended defence:

“ADAMSON: … This is completely different from what was served on the 25th. There was a document there, although I didn’t read the document I know it was not in this form.
HIS HONOUR: You can’t say that, you say you haven’t looked at it.
ADAMSON: I said I glanced at it. I said I could see what it was and I answered your question. Is it alleged this is the same document that was supposedly served on the 25th?
HIS HONOUR: I thought so.
ADAMSON: I don’t think it is. Can the other side be asked that?
HIS HONOUR: I am just going to ask them.”

125 Confirmation was given that the proposed amended defence was identical with the one that had been delivered (to use a neutral word) on 25 October.

It’s that bit where Adamson asked the judge whether he was ordering him to reply which I particularly like. It hardly seems the right way to start out before a judge who will be trying your case.

The Court of Appeal held that Justice Windeyer was entitled to take into account on the question of Mr Adamson’ credit as a witness his “conduct at the commencement of the trial in endeavouring to say that he had not been served with documents because they did not come from the solicitor on the record.”

Both appeals were dismissed.

3 Responses to “Adamson v Ede – the saga continues”

  1. Victor Says:

    Apologies if you have answered this somewhere in your posts but does Mr Adamson pay the costs for this debate over words and their (legal) meaning? Does the taxpayer pick up some of the costs?

    • marcellous Says:

      Mr Adamson pays the other side’s costs when he loses (if they can get it out of him); he pays a hearing fee to the court if he is the plaintiff and filing and possibly hearing fees for the appeal, but these (though quite high) don’t go anywhere near picking up the state’s costs of running the court (and nor do other litigants’ fees). The taxpayer picks these up.

  2. Graeme Says:

    i know this person adamson for 20 years he hasnt changed

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