Brightstar continues fight to contain information

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Brightstar continues fight to contain information

Brightstar applies to restrict parts of judgement in ASIC appeal.

Telstra's exclusive mobile handset distributor Brightstar Logistics has almost exhausted every avenue for appeal in its battle with Australian authorities to prevent the disclosure of information about its business activities.

Australian corporate law dictates that any company with more than $10 million in revenue and more than $5 million in assets in Australia must share its financial records with the securities regulator, ASIC. Brightstar has been fighting for an exemption from revealing its financial records.

Documents obtained by The Australian showed that Brightstar challenged the tribunal's original findings on the grounds that disclosing its financial records would provide opportunities for rivals to negotiate with Telstra.

It began its battle in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2008. The Tribunal rejected Brightstar's application to seek an exemption from supplying ASIC with its financial records. Last June, the distributor took its case to the Federal Court.

The Federal Court dismissed Brightstar's appeal on March 23 this year, requiring the company to submit its records to ASIC.

Brightstar is now fighting to prevent parts of that judgement from being published.

In the Federal Court last week, Brightstar said it would produce "further evidence" to support its claim to suppress the judgement.

In concluding the final hearing, Justice Emmett provided Brightstar and ASIC the option to file and serve any evidence to restrict  publication of parts of the judgment.

On Tuesday, Brightstar lawyers requested 14 days to submit the evidence, however representation for ASIC said that the timing was too long and it was important to "get the judgement out into the public". 

In asking if either party had any further evidence to support the restriction of publishing parts of the judgment, Justice Emmett said this request "didn't indicate that it gives you the opportunity to go around and find some evidence".

When asked what type of evidence would be produced, Brightstar lawyers said it was witness evidence from "other people outside the company".

"It's getting more like Gilbert and Sullivan as we go along," Justice Emmett commented.

"The question is whether I should publish my reasons," Justice Emmett said, highlighting that he was concerned "if there's anything in my reasons that is not (already) public".

Brightstar further applied for a temporary suppression of certain information contained in court documents, raising concerns of the potential for "reverse engineering" as a result of some exhibits.

ASIC's lawyer was unconcerned about containing information raised in this case.

"The public are entitled to know what ASIC are saying," he said.

Brightstar has an exclusive deal to distribute Telstra handsets, with the telco renewing its sourcing contract with Brightstar late last year for two years and a supply chain contract with the company for a further three years.

Brightstar has been approached for comment.

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