By James Atkinson
Shoalhaven City Council last year blocked the plan by ALH to co-locate the Dan Murphy's store with its existing BWS liquor outlet on the site of the Archer Resort hotel and motel complex in Nowra.
When ALH launched an appeal of the decision in the NSW Land and Environment Court, the council appointed social and strategic planning consultant Dr Judith Stubbs as an expert to address the social impact of the bulk liquor outlet.
But ALH challenged her appointment, because she had previously been engaged by the publican in 2009 to prepare a social impact assessment in support of the Dan Murphy's Nowra outlet.
At the time, Stubbs concluded that there was likely to be an increase in alcohol-related harm from the additional bottle shop and ALH opted not to use her report in the development application.
But the publican's bid for a Supreme Court injunction against Stubbs' involvement relied on evidence from director Ross Blair-Holt that the consultant had received confidential information while engaged by the publican that could not be disclosed.
Justice William Nicholas accepted evidence from Blair-Holt that this information included confidential sales figures from ALH's co-located BWS and Dan Murphy's stores at the Dalrymple Hotel, Queensland, and the Prince Mark Hotel, Victoria, as well as confidential retail strategies.
"It is realistic to recognise, without casting doubt on her bona fides or honesty, that Dr Stubbs might have some practical difficulty in compartmentalising in her mind the various parcels of information, including the confidential information, to be considered in fulfilling her retainer by the Council," Justice Nicholas said.
"In my opinion the appropriate remedy against the risk is an order restraining her from any pre-trial involvement with the Council or its representatives as an expert witness, or otherwise," he ruled.
He ordered that Shoalhaven City Council pay ALH's costs of the interlocutory proceedings.