Defence papers missing in Oracle sex harassment case

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Defence papers missing in Oracle sex harassment case

Judge wants to hear parties in the witness box.

The Federal Court judge presiding over a case of alleged sexual harassment brought against Oracle Australia says he wants to hear from both sides in the witness box.

Former Oracle Australia program manager Rebecca Richardson is seeking an estimated $450,000 in damages for alleged sexual discrimination and breach of contract.

The salesman accused of harassing her, Randol Tucker, has denied the claims.

At a second directions hearing in the Federal Court today, Justice Robert Buchanan sought firstly to locate Oracle Australia's defence in the matter, which wasn't listed in the court registry as being received.

It was exchanged between the parties on August 5, 2010. All parties - including the court - agreed to look into whether it had been filed.

"I haven't seen what position your client has taken but I've made the working assumption the allegations are denied," Justice Buchanan said.

Rebecca Richardson's barrister, Rachel Francois, said there had been some "slippage" in the timetable that she said "both parties were responsible" for.

There was also a dispute over categories for the discovery of documents, Francois said.

Francois said the dispute with Oracle's legal team was over the alleged relevance and volume of requested files.

Justice Buchanan wished the "parties well in their endeavours" but said it was an "unpromising start to this litigation to get bogged down in an interlocutory skirmish".

Further directions were listed for November 19, 2010, but Francois was "optimistic" the parties could reach agreement before then, allowing the date to be vacated.

"Once we have the discovery [completed] we expect a short timeframe [will be needed to allow us] to put on evidence," Francois said.

Justice Buchanan expressed a strong preference that evidence be expressed in court, not in filings.

"In a case like this, I'd prefer to get the evidence as it's given and admitted at trial," he said.

"I don't want to be - burdened is one word, tained is another - with advanced versions of the evidence that is to be given.

"There will be issues with the nature of conversations between [the parties], the extent to which her [Richardson's] concerns were sufficiently addressed, and how [Oracle and Tucker] responded.

"I don't see any reason why people should not get in the witness box and say what happened as opposed to developing their own version of events in private and in a solicitor's office.

"So I'd like to start from a premise where versions of events turning on words spoken and impressions left are given directly to me."

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