Champion vows to continue fight
IT'S not over yet.
That's the warning Jeff Champion had for the Lismore City Council yesterday after a Sydney judge granted him 28 days to challenge an assessment ordering him to pay an unexpected $30,000 in court costs.
In 2010, Mr Champion agreed to cover $130,000 of the council's legal costs which stemmed from a drawn-out stoush in the Land and Environment Court over a controversial development application to extend his family's quarry.
He claimed that when he signed on the dotted line he was led to believe "that was it - all costs were covered - everything was included".
But in July, 2011 a costs assessor ruled a further $28,558.95 was payable to the council.
Since then the council and Mr Champion have remained at odds over whether the money is owed or not.
When a settlement could not be reached Mr Champion took the council to the Sydney District Court.
In his application to the court, Mr Champion requested leave to extend his appeal and asked that the cost assessment be set aside.
Yesterday, Judge Kearns told the court it would be "quite inappropriate" for him to make a determination on an order made in a different jurisdiction.
He recommended that if Mr Champion felt "his point is good", he should seek a direct variation of the order through the Land and Environment Court where the dispute originated from.
An extension to the time so Mr Champion could appeal was granted but his other requests were dismissed.
Mr Champion said he was yet to decide whether he would go back to the Land and Environment Court or appeal to the District Court - but in any event it was "not over yet".
While he acknowledged the money spent by both he and the council far exceeded the disputed amount, Mr Champion insisted the appeal was a "matter of principle".
He called on the council to settle out of court and said that if an agreement could not be reached the appeal process would be "ongoing".
"This should have been fairly simple to sort out and I always encouraged the council to settle," Mr Champion said
"It's just one of those cases where it really depends on whether you want to fall in line or whether you take a stand.
"I am not going to be intimidated into paying more than what I owe."