Rebel Wilson fights for $1m legal costs

Rebel Wilson is seeking costs after winning the highest defamation payout in Australian history.
Rebel Wilson is seeking costs after winning the highest defamation payout in Australian history.

Hollywood star Rebel Wilson was last year awarded $4.5 million in the highest defamation payout in Australian history, but is now fighting to have most of her costs of more than $1.4m repaid by Bauer Media.

It was revealed in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Thursday that Wilson spent close to $1.5 million over the 22-day trial, including her barrister Matthew Collins' fees of $9900 a day, including GST.

The Pitch Perfect star now wants the majority of her costs repaid by Bauer, which defamed her in a series of magazine articles published in 2015.

It is expected she will have at least 80 per cent of those costs - or $1.123 million - repaid, but Wilson's legal team is arguing she should get at least $1.3 million back.

Her barrister Renee Enbom argued that Justice John Dixon made an order on costs rather than have the matter go to a dedicated costs court.

She said Wilson and Bauer Media were arguing over a difference of between $100,000 and $200,000.

Justice Dixon previously found Bauer relied on "hopeless", or unwinnable defences during the trial, purely to keep Wilson "worried all the way to verdict".

Ms Enbom argued that was an "improper motivation", and the matter of costs should be decided by the trial judge as a result.

However, Justice Dixon said he had already dealt with the matter by awarding Wilson aggravated damages and didn't want to arbitrarily decide on costs.

"I don't see why I should interfere with the standard processes ... for dealing with the issue of costs," he said.

"It might be efficient and timely, but in the sense it becomes arbitrary, it ceases to be just."

Ms Enbom also argued Wilson may have to wait until the end of 2018 before recovering her fees if the matter went to a costs court, costing more than another $100,000 to finalise.

She said Wilson had offered to settle the defamation matter - for $200,000 - before it went to trial, but Bauer knocked back the offer.

"She went on to incur an enormous amount of money," Ms Enbom said.

Wilson's lawyers successfully proved to an all-woman jury that Bauer branded the screen star as a "serial liar" who fabricated untruths about her age, real name and childhood in order to make it in Hollywood.

Bauer Media plans to appeal against the $4.5 million payout, with the matter listed for mid-April.

On Thursday, Bauer's barrister Sarah Cherry argued if Justice Dixon determined costs, it would be prejudicial to the publisher.

Justice Dixon adjourned the costs matter for a date to be determined.

Australian Associated Press