EXCLUSIVE: Righting a seven-year wrong: NAB vs Lawrence

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(Meme via @DunkenKBliths)



It took seven long years, but the Justice Beach Supreme Court judgment in her favour has finally been posted on the SVC website, writes contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence.

[Read Part One here.]

THE NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK'S toxic tentacles reach into every sector.

None is more insidious than the power and influence it exercises over certain members of an obeisant judicial system and in this specific matter, the Supreme Court of Victoria.

The NAB is all powerful. It uses and abuses the law. It has friends in both high and low places. The NAB, and its lawyers, and agents, and representatives persistently mislead the court; ergo they lie. Sometimes, judges know they are lying and do nothing about it. Sometimes, we litigants point out and offer proof of such deceit, but we are ignored. In court, we people are the last among equals.

For years to no avail, I tried to get Justice Beach's judgment posted on the Supreme Court of Victoria's website, as is the norm.


In his IA article (14 May) entitled, 'Victims of bank corruption suffer emotional trauma on top of financial ruin', academic and political economist Dr Evan Jones documenting some of the treatment I endured against the NAB in the courts, wrote:

'The courts have accorded Lawrence her rights on only one occasion, when Beach J, 24 March 2011, granted her leave to appeal against the NAB’s demand of summary judgment for possession. Curiously, that judgment is missing from the public record.'

Why was the judgment not posted on the Supreme Court's judgment list?

Here's why. 


Firstly, I had put in a counterclaim to the NAB's writ and sought an appeal against summary possession.

Secondly, His Honour Justice Beach found in favour of my appeal and despatched the matter to trial in the Supreme Court.

Thirdly, NAB and its lawyers did not want the judgment posted. NAB rules.

NAB and its legal team were humiliated by Beach's decision.

They spat the dummy. They were in disbelief and demonstrably furious, angrily packing up their files and muttering profanities.


As it was, Rob Hutchinson – my amicus curiae and former National Australia Bank manager – and I had been subjected to the asinine antics of NAB's female instructing solicitor, who had her back to His Honour and was pathetically pulling faces and playing faux violins. His Honour, of course, would have been unaware of this puerile behaviour.

When Jones wrote about the missing Beach judgment, I again contacted the Supreme Court, this time emailing directly to Sarah Dolan, Communications and Public Affairs Director [Only address details have been removed from email]:

Subject: SARAH DOLAN AND/OR COLLEAGUES RE: Victims of bank corruption suffer emotional trauma on top of financial ruin

Date: 14 June 2018 4:22 PM


'Victims of bank corruption suffer emotional trauma on top of financial ruin'

G’day Dear Sarah, I hope this email finds you well in body and spirit.

You may already be aware of the above article by Dr Evan Jones who refers to a Supreme Court judgment in a matter between myself and the National Australia Bank, that curiously, has not been posted on the SCV website. 

I am writing an article on this and would like to know why the judgment has not been posted and if it will now be posted on the website. 

I am researching the article now and would like a formal response in writing to include in my article. 

Kind Regards

Tess Lawrence

Contributing editor-at-large Independent Australia

Three days without responding to a media request is not good enough for a communications and public affairs executive who, of course, can direct others to complete the task.

I again wrote to Dolan on the early evening of June 14, enclosing a copy of the email I sent earlier.

This time I copied in Jones and IA's managing editor, David Donovan:

Sent: Sunday, 17 June 2018 6:25 PM
To: Supreme Court-Media
Cc: Evan Jones, IA editor

G’day again Dear Sarah, I am resending an email I sent to you last week that is replicated below.

Would you/and or colleagues please be courteous enough to respond to my enquiries. 

I respectfully request a prompt response to what is a fairly simple matter. 

Kind Regards


I attached my first email to the above.

The next day, on June 18, I got an email from Sarah Dolan addressed to myself and copied to Jones and Donovan:

Hi Tess

I received your email on Thursday afternoon, and will endeavour to reply as soon as possible.

Kind Regards,

Sarah Dolan

Communications and Public Affairs Director

That same morning I sent a courtesy email to Ms Dolan, acknowledging her response, again copied to Jones and Donovan:

Sent: Monday, 18 June 2018 11:07 AM
To: Supreme Court-Media

G’day Dear Sarah, much appreciated. 

Kind Regards



That afternoon, I received an extraordinary response from Ms Dolan that even White House Press Secretary and “alternative facts“ doyenne, Kellyanne Conway, could not trump. In what was a blatant falsehood, Ms Dolan said Beach's judgment was an 'interlocutory ruling'.

On 18 Jun 2018, at 12:43 pm, Supreme Court-Media wrote:

Hi Tess

Thank you for your patience.

I can confirm that the matter you refer to was an interlocutory ruling and unsuitable for publication.

Kind Regards

Sarah Dolan

Communications and Public Affairs Director

I was shocked that Dolan, a seasoned journalist who had worked for former Victorian Premier John Brumby during the notorious Hotel Windsor probity scandal and who was interviewed for the subsequent Ombusdman Report, would write such a preposterous response that also compromised Justice Beach's judgment as “unsuitable for publication”. But I was delayed on assignment.

On 22 June 2018 at 11:24 am, I wrote to Dolan:

 G’day Dear Sarah, 

I am on assignment re the tragic rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon, whose funeral was yesterday. It is the reason I have not responded earlier to your email.

I am concerned at your description that the matter was an interlocutory ruling. It was a judgment. The Supreme Court described it as such at the time. His Honour Justice Beach's Chambers so too described the matter as a judgment. It has never been referred to me at any time as an “interlocutory ruling”.

Could you please inform me from whence and whom you received your advice/instructions?

Who told you it was an “interlocutory ruling"?

Who said the judgment was “unsuitable for publication?"

In fact, given the public utterance of the judgment by His Honour and given that utterance was in an open court of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the judgment was thus published by His Honour in the first instance and with respect, because of its contents, is eminently publishable. I think you do His Honour a great disservice to state otherwise.

As a journalist who continues to report on court matters, I find your response spurious and inadequate and I reject it on several grounds, including those already mentioned. 

I believe in the principle of first among equals and as a person who has been forced to represent herself in court, have, on a number of occasions experienced and indeed reported on, the diffidence shown by some in the judicial system to those who represent themselves. 

A judgment that favours a self representing litigant is no less worthy than that which favours a bank like the National Australia Bank and its phalanx of lawyers.

Would you please be kind enough to promptly respond to my questions? They are rather simple. And you already have the answers.

*Just so there is no misunderstanding. I again state I intend to write about this. 

Kind Regards

Tess Lawrence

It was the last I heard from Ms Dolan.

But then that same day, came a salutary and succinct email from His Honour Justice Beach's Chambers, signed by Mandy Alden, Senior Associate to His Honour. 

The email was addressed to NAB's lawyers, Turks Legal, Tess Lawrence and Dolan's office, Supreme Court-Media:

Supreme Court-Justice Beach Chambers

NAB v Lawrence [2011] VSC 690 - S CI 2009 5152

Dear Parties and Practitioners

I refer to the appearance in this matter on 24 March 2011. While reasons were published on that day, they were not published electronically. Attached herewith is an electronic version of the judgment published that day. 

Yours Faithfully

Mandy Alden


Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria


Within hours, the Beach judgment in my favour was posted on the Supreme Court's website.

For the time being, I rest my case.

Don't miss Part Three of the missing Beach judgment.

Read Part One 'The case of the missing Beach judgment: NAB vs Lawrence' here.

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