Melbourne, Mar 5 : Celebrity naturalist Terri Irwin has failed in her bid to have a multimillion-dollar lawsuit she is fighting moved to her home state of Queensland.
The widow of late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and the famous Australia Zoo were being sued by a debt collection company claiming that both parties owed more than 2.5 million dollars over an intricate loan deal with an offshore bank.
The company, Alyssa Treasury Services has taken over several debts allegedly owed to various overseas companies and banks and has released a number of writs against various parties it claims failed to honour "bills of exchange" - unconditional promises to pay money as part of their involvement in a tax minimisation scheme.
Attorneys for Irwin and the zoo petitioned for the case to be moved to Queensland, saying it was a more suitable venue as some of the most important witnesses resided there, and because the claim by Alyssa was brought under commonwealth law.
However, the application was rejected by Victorian County Court Judge Maree Kennedy, saying she wasn't satisfied that the Supreme Court of Queensland was the appropriate court to hear the matter.
"The cause of action herein has a strong connection with this state (Victoria). On the evidence at this stage, it appears that issue, acceptance and endorsement of the bill (of exchange) have all taken place in Victoria," Judge Kennedy ruled.
However, Kennedy said that she accepted that a Queensland connection could become more significant as the case proceeded. She said she would reserve the right of Irwin and Australia Zoo to again apply in future to have the case moved to their home state if fresh evidence was produced.
Alyssa has alleged that several parties including Mrs Irwin, who is being personally sued for 60,000 dollars, and the zoo, agreed but did not pay large sums of money later in connection with the loan.