The legal advice contained in documents 1, 2 and 5 was provided for the purposes of advising the Telecommunications Competition and Consumer Branch of the Department on the Department’s independent assessment of claims against Telstra with respect to the “Casualties of Telstra’ (COT) group of claimants. Although the Department is no longer engaging in this independent assessment process of COTs claims, the claims are an issue that remains of high concern to the claimants themselves and a section of other telecommunications consumers. At present matters directly or indirectly relating to the COTs claims are the subject of ongoing legal actions in a variety of legal fora to which the Department is not a party.
Despite the age of the advice provided five years ago, I am of the opinion that the disclosure of this information and consequent waiver of privilege would potentially cause real harm by prejudicing the course of these proceedings by disclosing legal advice that was provided to the Department fur the purpose of its own independent assessment processes. Preserving the confidentiality of this advice is important in ensuring that the Legal Services Group’s advice or recommendations with respect to consumer claims against Telstra or any other telecommunications provider retains its essential independence.