Mining magnate Gina Rinehart has been ordered to pay the legal bills of three of her four children incurred in their long-running battle to remove her as trustee of the family's multibillion-dollar trust.
Mrs Rinehart, who is Australia's richest person and the wealthiest woman in the world, has also been ordered to pay costs to media organisations Fairfax Media (publisher of smh.com.au and The Australian Financial Review), Nationwide News (publisher of The Daily Telegraph and The Australian) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The mining magnate has been fighting her three eldest children - John Hancock, Bianca Rinehart and Hope Welker - in the courts over control of the trust since September last year.
In the NSW Court of Appeal today, Mrs Rinehart and her youngest daughter and ally, Ginia Rinehart, were ordered to pay the plaintiff children costs they incurred in opposing her attempts to stay earlier court decisions.
Mrs Rinehart had asked the court to stay a decision made on December 19, 2011, which allowed the media to publish details of the family feud that had been suppressed by another judge in October.
Mrs Rinehart's lawyers said they wanted to seek special leave to appeal to the High Court and, without a suppression order, the very details Mrs Rinehart wanted to keep secret would be published before the High Court could prevent it.
On January 13, three judges of the Court of Appeal dismissed Mrs Rinehart's application, although a short stay was granted because many of the solicitors and barristers for each side were on holidays.
In a judgment handed down today, the Court of Appeal revealed Ginia Rinehart was against her siblings getting costs, although her mother was not.
The plaintiff children had also asked the court to order their mother to pay costs immediately, rather than at the end of the court case, as is usual practice.
The Chief Justice, Tom Bathurst, said their attempt to remove their mother as trustee could still take some time, but that was no reason to divert from the usual rules regarding costs.
He also refused an application by the media interests for costs related to a number of hearings in 2011 in which details of the lawsuit were suppressed. The organisations had engaged counsel to fight the suppression orders, arguing it was in the public interest for legal processes to be heard in open court. As the media were unsuccessful in these hearings, costs were not granted.
The plaintiff children want their mother removed as trustee of a Deed of Settlement made on December 27, 1988 by their grandfather, Langley Hancock. They allege Mrs Hancock engaged in "serious misconduct".
Last week, the NSW Supreme Court ordered Mrs Hancock to hand over previously secret tax advice prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers in November 2011.