Novak Djokovic has hired a high powered legal team to fight for his ability to compete again in the Australian Open Tennis, but has already reportedly dumped two of his lawyers.
Djokovic’s legal fight has seen an initial win for the tennis star who is a 20-times Grand Slam winner who travelled to Australia under the impression that he had a medical exemption to enter the country without being vaccinated against Covid.
He is now being held in a ‘bug infested’ hotel (according to his mother), the Melbourne Park Hotel.
Documents submitted by Djokovic’s lawyers claim he tested positive for Covid-19 in December, which they believed would secure him entry into the country despite being unvaccinated. However it was
“Mr Djokovic had received, on 30 December 2021, a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia (‘Exemption Certificate’) recording that he had been provided with a ‘medical exemption from Covid vaccination’ on the ground that he had recently recovered from Covid,” the court document said.
He was holding a temporary activity visa when he received a document from the Department of Home Affairs which he believed granted him a quarantine-free arrival, which proved not to be the case.
His position is that the activity visa was based on his declaration but was not a binding exemption.
The original injunction was filed by Natalie Bannister and Penelope Ford of Hall & Willcox and he was permitted to remain in Australia but a spelling error for the star’s name, shown as ‘Novak Djokavic’ was evident. For the error or whatever other reason, the lawyers were dumped and the Djokovic camp went on to hire four lawyers; Paul Holdenson, Nikola Dragojlovic, Nick Wood SC (pictured left) and Jim Hartley, from Svensson Barristers.
Nick Wood is the editor of the Judicial Review chapter of Victorian Administrative Law and has worked for clients before he High Court, Supreme Court and Federal Circuit Court.
He was previously Counsel Assisting the Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth and Associate to Justice Beaumont of the Federal Court where he also worked on a proceeding involving alleged fraud committed against a visa applicant by her immigration agent.
Paul Holdenson has extensive appellate experience and has worked before the Victorian Court of Appeal, the High Court of Australia and interstate appellate courts in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.
Although the original papers got approved and Djokovic was allowed to remain in the country until Monday, there was a glaring error submitted.
Court documents show that under the section ‘Filed on behalf of’ there was a spelling error, with ‘Novak Djokavic’ appearing on the form.
The head of the paper reads ‘Novak Djokovic applicant’ and the mistake comes further down on the first page.
The video-conducted hearing has seen a win for Djokovic. Broadcast was broadcast over the internet by a YouTuber, against the court’s express wishes, Federal Judge Anthony Kelly noted that Djokovic’s medical exemption from immunisation was verified by a “professor and eminently qualified physician”.
“I’m utterly confused,” Djokovic said, according to his lead lawyer Nick Wood SC. “I’ve done everything asked of me. If there has been an error I don’t understand what it is. I would like some time to talk to lawyers when my agent and Tennis Australia is awake.”
The case is also set to cost Australian taxpayers a great deal of money.
A legal commentator, Justin Quill, reported on Australian program ‘The Project’ said ‘if the legal case drags on much longer, it’s likely to cost the Australian taxpayer “stacks”.
“Look, if there’s no appeal, then it’s probably going to be maybe a quarter of a million dollars. If there are appeals, it could be more like half a million,” he said.
“Novak Djokovic, if he wins this case, he’ll seek his costs, and we’ll have to whack that on top.
“If they win tomorrow, $250,000 to the government lawyers, probably a couple of hundred thousand to Novak to pay his legal fees. We’re getting close to half a million and that’s just, just if there’s no appeal.”