Former superyacht builder Ivan Erceg has lost a Supreme Court bid to discover who got what from two trusts set up by his older brother, the late liquor magnate Michael Erceg.
In the culmination of a long, drawn-out court battle, the Supreme Court said in its ruling, released today, that it was concerned about what Ivan Erceg planned to do with the documents he sought.
Ivan Erceg received no payout when the two trusts in question were wound up in 2010, some 10 months after he was declared bankrupt.
Years on, out of bankruptcy and armed with a Queen's Counsel, Erceg went to the High Court to get his hands on a swathe of trust records.
The documents in his sights included financial statements of Independent Liquor, the ready-to-drink beverage company founded by Michael Erceg and worth an estimated $620 million when he died in a helicopter crash more than a decade ago.
Opposing the bid were two trustees, lawyer Darryl Gregory and Michael's widow, Lynette Erceg.
In the earlier High Court judgment, Justice Pamela Courtney said Ivan Erceg's main complaint seemed to be that he had not received any distribution from the trust assets.
The weight of the evidence, she said, was that Michael Erceg had intended the trusts would be administered in confidence and he did not want his family members who might benefit from them to have information on this.
Justice Courtney said there was a distinct unease about the ramifications for family relations of Ivan Erceg having access to trust documents and the potential effect on the trustees.
She referred to an email sent by Ivan in May 2009 threatening to discuss family matters with the media.
Ivan Erceg said in the email that "when my story has been told, the need to continue life's journey will no longer be required. The blood and death that will follow will stain both Darryl and Lyn. The costs will be greater than can be imagined at this time."
Ivan Erceg took the matter to the Court of Appeal, which last February issued a ruling that disagreed with Justice Courtney and agreed the former boss of the now-sunk Sensation Yachts did have standing to bring the case.
But the end result was the same.
"[Justice Courtney] fairly considered the factors in favour of and against disclosure before determining no disclosure was appropriate," said the appellate judges, who found their High Court counterpart did not err in her conclusion to refuse Erceg's claim.
Ivan Erceg then took the case to the Supreme Court, which rejected his appeal in a decision released this morning.
In relation to the financial statements, trust deeds and deeds of variation that were sought, the Supreme Court said Erceg's conduct gave "genuine reason for concern as to what he would do with the information if he received it".
"The risk of harassment by the applicant is significant and the benefits of disclosure being made are outweighed by that potential detriment," the court's decision said.
Having decided not order disclosure of these documents, the court said it would not order disclosure of any other batches of documents sought by Erceg.
These included gifting and debting documents, bank statements, share valuations and other corporate documents.
Ivan Erceg was ordered to pay $25,000 to the respondents, Lynette Erceg and Darryl Gregory.