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McLachlan closer to facing trial over supplements saga

McLachlan closer to facing trial over supplements saga

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan appears to be a step closer to facing a trial over his handling of the Essendon drugs saga after a court ruling in Melbourne went mostly against the league.

McLachlan and former AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick are accused of engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to statements they made in the aftermath of the scandal.

Melbourne lawyer Jackson Taylor launched a case against the AFL pair in a Supreme Court writ, alleging they breached consumer laws to protect their commercial interest.

The case centres on a number of comments, including McLachlan denying that he tried to engineer outcomes in the saga before Bombers players and officials were interviewed by ASADA and the AFL.

The AFL had sought for parts of the case to be heard at a preliminary hearing to limit the need for witnesses and the discovery of documents.

But Supreme Court judge John Dixon on Wednesday ruled against the AFL’s request in relation to two legal “questions” in the matter.

One question was whether or not the particular public statements made by McLachlan and Fitzpatrick were in the course of “trade or commerce” under Australian consumer laws.

A third question relating to a deed of release will be sent for determination before the case proceeds.

Justice Dixon also ordered the AFL to pay Mr Taylor’s costs in opposing the application for the “mini-trial”.

In the case against the AFL, Mr Taylor alleges several statements by McLachlan about the doping saga were misleading or deceptive.

These include a comment McLachlan made in an interview with AFL 360, representing that the AFL had taken reasonable care in protecting the health and safety of Essendon players involved in the supplements program.

Mr Taylor wants the court to declare that McLachlan, Fitzpatrick and the AFL acted unlawfully.

© AAP 2018