Former broadcaster John Tamihere's $600,000 legal battle with RadioLIVE could play out behind closed doors.
MediaWorks, which operates RadioLIVE, is arguing the matter should be dealt with through arbitration — a process that takes place in private. The company has issued a stay of proceedings in response to Mr Tamihere's lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract, injurious falsehood and defamation over his termination following the Roast Busters affair.
Mr Tamihere and former talk show co-host Willie Jackson were stood down by RadioLIVE late last year following an interview with a caller who claimed to be closely associated to one of the Roast Busters' victims. Mr Jackson was subsequently reinstated by RadioLIVE while Mr Tamihere was not.
Mr Tamihere's lawsuit claims that that created the impression he had committed wrongdoing while Mr Jackson had not. An internal MediaWorks' investigation cleared both broadcasters of breaching broadcasting standards during the interview.
Mr Tamihere also alleges he had agreed terms over a new contract with MediaWorks and that agreement was not honoured.
Lawyers for MediaWorks today argued at the High Court in Auckland that the matter should be dealt with via arbitration in line with a clause in Mr Tamihere's contract. Mr Tamihere's lawyers will argue the case should be dealt with by the High Court, which would mean the details of the case would likely be reported by the media.
"Mr Tamihere will be opposing the application for stay on the grounds that the arbitration clause does not prevent the High Court from hearing the proceeding," his lawyer Jacque Lethbridge said.
A MediaWorks' spokeswoman said the attempt to deal with the matter through arbitration was "not at all" motivated by the fact the proceedings would remain private.
"This stems from John Tamihere's claim that he had a contract — we have simply pointed out that contract has a dispute resolution clause requiring him to arbitrate. So, our argument is about the terms of the contract that Mr Tamihere alleges is still on foot, and is unrelated to publicity or privacy."
It is understood that Mr Tamihere's lawyers will argue that MediaWorks is attempting to invoke a clause in a contract it claims does not exist.
Arguments about jurisdiction for the case are due to be heard on Monday.