French CJ, Gummow, Hayne, Heydon, Crennan, Kiefel, Bell JJ
Corporations – Duties and liabilities of directors and officers – Contraventions of civil penalty provisions of Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) ("the Act") – Corporation released misleading announcement to Australian Stock Exchange ("ASX") – Australian Securities and Investments Commission ("ASIC") brought proceedings against respondents (and others) for contraventions of the Act – Section 180(1) of the Act required directors and officers to act with degree of care and diligence that reasonable person in that position would exercise – ASIC alleged directors contravened s_180(1) by approving draft announcement not materially different from misleading announcement released to ASX – ASIC alleged company secretary and general counsel of corporation contravened s 180(1) by not advising board that draft announcement was misleading – Whether directors approved draft announcement.
Evidence – ASIC tendered minutes of board meeting recording tabling and approval of draft ASX announcement – Minutes subsequently approved – ASIC did not call corporation's solicitor, who had supervised preparation of draft minutes and attended board meeting – Whether ASIC owed respondents a "duty of fairness" in its conduct of litigation – Whether ASIC breached putative duty by not calling solicitor – Whether proper consequence of any such breach was to discount cogency of ASIC's case – Whether board minutes sufficient evidence to prove directors' approval of draft announcement.
Words and phrases – "cogency of proof", "duty of fairness", "obligation of fairness", "onus of proof", "satisfaction on the balance of probabilities".
Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) – ss 180(1), 251A, 1317L.