Sunland shareholders will be slugged up to $7 million for legal costs after the Gold Coast developer abandoned its High Court bid on Friday to block the enforcement of a costs ruling by the Court of Appeal.
The backdown came just hours before Sunland was due to challenge the Victorian court's recent decision that it pay special costs because its arguments were "hopeless" and conducted in "wilful disregard of the known facts and law".
It's the latest defeat for the group in a more than four-year legal battle over a controversial $63 million waterfront property deal in Dubai involving Sunland and Australians Matt Joyce and Angus Reed. Joyce and Reed (in absentia) were recently found guilty of fraud and sentenced to 10 years' jail in Dubai.
Sunland's bid to recoup $14 million in damages from the men has been repeatedly frustrated in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, which have handed down damning assessments of the conduct and reliability of Sunland and some of its senior executives.
Last month, the Victorian Court of Appeal ordered Sunland to pay the costs of Joyce, Reed and other parties for the substantive appeal, costs appeal and a hearing to introduce "new" evidence instigated by the developer.
Sunland announced to the ASX on Friday that the costs were $6 million to $7 million. This figure accounts for the costs incurred by Joyce, Reed and other parties but not for the legal expenses of Sunland.
Sunland has declined to comment on whether it would proceed with its application to the High Court for leave to appeal over the main case.