Q. You are an out and out liar, aren’t you?
Q. How do you say you are not an out and out liar when you have approved statements on the Internet that you hold a Bachelor of Arts, earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Business Administration?
A. That was put there purely as a PR actually.
Q. Mr Gifford, is that a serious answer?
Judge: As a PR tool, a lie?
A. Not a lie, your Honour. It was just put out—
Q. It is a lie—
A. —that way so it would look as though.
Q. —you had something that you didn’t have?
A. Correct, your Honour.
Q. It is a lie?
Q. It is not a PR tool, it is a lie?
A. Yes, your Honour. “
Please do read the full Ars Technica feature, it is well worth it.
Without seeing the full transcript, it’s impossible to tell what the court thought about the merits of the case, though Everiss had previously argued vocally that Evony defamation lawsuit should never have been brought in Australia and did not comply with Australian defamation law.
But the case didn’t turn on the merits, in the end. It’s entirely possible that Evony withdrew its lawsuit based on negative customer reaction, as they said at the time. But the poor performance of a key witness of theirs must have been a very strong contributing factor – and that’s just based on the transcript extract that Ars Technica saw. Now, Evony is faced with a legal costs bill as well as the negative publicity surrounding the court case – all of which could have been avoided if they hadn’t started the lawsuit in the first place or had settled on sensible terms.
This case serves as a great example of a rule that disputes lawyers see in practice all the time: your case is only as good as your witness. A poor witness can ruin your case, however good the legal merits may be, just as a great witness can really boost or even win your case. This also happened very recently in the UK case of BSkyB v EDS, a massive court case over an outsourcing contract with hundreds of millions of pounds at stake. EDS lost it, in large part, because their key witness admitted under cross-examination that he had lied about his academic qualifications, which in fact he had bought online.
All very fascinating, I hear the games industry ask, but what has it got to do with us? Here’s why: the Everiss case and the BSkyB case just go to show how inherently unpredictable litigation can be, however strong or weak your case might seem at the outset. So, as always, if you’re faced with a dispute, seek legal advice from a friendly disputes lawyer at the outset, because a friendly legal chat early on can save a LOT of time later on.
I read some time ago that Evony had also engaged English lawyers against Everiss following his publication of information which they claimed to be private and confidential to Evony and its employees. I have not yet seen anything to suggest that dispute has gone away or been settled. In which case, perhaps we’ll hear more on this in the future? On the other hand, it’s probably more likely Evony has had a bellyful of Bruce Everiss by now. We’ll have to wait and see…
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