I see that the High Court yesterday reversed an earlier Full Federal Court decision which had ruled in favour of the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League Club in relation to the circumstances of setting up the 14 team NRL competition to settle the so-called “superleague war”. The NRL competition had excluded South Sydney to reduce the competition size to the agreed number of teams.
The Full Federal Court had ruled (in a split decision) that the NRL agreements contained an illegally anti-competitive “exclusionary provision” within the meaning of section 45 of the Trade Practices Act. The High Court disagreed, holding that the NRL deal wasn’t illegally anti-competitive at all. I won’t go into the details, because they’re dry and technical. The one interesting part is about costs. Normally a result like this could be expected to bankrupt a sporting club like the Rabbitohs. Souths would inevitably have been ordered to pay News Limited’s (and other parties’) costs of every stage of the litigation, certainly running to tens of millions of dollars, had it not been for the following (as explained by Chief Justice Murray Gleeson):
The appellants seek no orders as to the costs of the proceedings before this Court or the Full Court of the Federal Court, and this Court was informed that the parties have agreed that, in the event that the appeal succeeds, the appellants will not enforce any of the costs orders of Finn J.
So Rupert isn’t a completely heartless, greedy prick after all, and Souths live to fight another day. Mind you they need all the help they can get, because they’re running stone motherless last in the NRL anyway, with a miserable 8 points with only a couple of rounds to go (the next lowest team is on 16).