Moves to shorten Storm trial

A REDUCED list of witnesses to testify about the Storm Financial collapse should shorten the length of a trial and class action.

As "millions of documents" have been reduced to "hundreds" and many of the 98 witnesses no longer need to take the stand, the trial could take less than three months.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission is taking action against the role the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Macquarie Bank and the Bank of Queensland played in the debacle which resulted in hundreds of people losing their futures.

The trial length should please Storm victims who, last week, were asked to dig deeper to fund their legal team for the class action, which is running on the coat tails of the ASIC case.

Storm Investors Consumer Action Group co-chairman Mark Weir said he believed every investor would welcome a shorter trial and hoped that was the right interpretation of today's hearing.

"Provided the judgment can be made in an expeditious manner, then I'm certain the investors would welcome that," he said.

"But, of course, there are many who believe in the opportunity to have all of the evidence out there for the whole world to see and they would be disappointed with any attempt to inhibit that process."

ASIC alleges the three banks acted unconscionably and supported an unregistered managed investment scheme. The banks deny the allegations.

The Federal Court in Brisbane heard on Monday there would be much analysis of Storm's policies and practices during the trial.

But the trial was pushed back a week until next Monday while the parties negotiate on "agreed facts".

Justice John Reeves said the conceded facts should mean many witnesses would no longer need to take the stand.

He said initial court hearings into the matter involved millions of documents but that had been whittled down to thousands and he had been told now hundreds of documents.

"I'm trying to manage the trial in the most efficient manner I can," he said.

"There will still be a lot of material.

"There has to be a control on that to keep it to (time limits)."

David Robinson, acting for ASIC, asked the court to remember it was a trial and the organisation should still have the right to call evidence not negotiated in advance.

He said ASIC wanted investors to have "every chance to put their evidence before the court".

"There may be a need to fill a hole (in the evidence). We will endeavour to identify any holes in advance," he said.

The court heard CBA and BOQ had agreed to almost all facts ASIC put forward.

John Sheahan, from Macquarie Bank, said his client had reached agreement with ASIC on 85 paragraphs of facts and was close to resolving another 5-10% in dispute.

"The vast bulk are common ground," he said.

Mr Sheahan said while the banks hoped to agree to a large portion of ASIC facts, they wanted to reserve the right to object on relevance or hearsay once the trial was under way.

Justice Reeves will first hear from 21 investors, followed by Storm Financial witnesses and then witnesses from each of the three banks involved in the case.

The court heard ASIC would take about a week to open its case and take the justice through all the documents it relied on.

CBA will take one to two days, the two class actions should take about half a day to open and the other banks a matter of hours.

Justice Reeves said he would therefore not expect to hear evidence from witnesses until October 1.


Feel the beat and move your feet

Feel the beat and move your feet

ZumbaNoosa celebrates a decade

Dinosaurs at the Plant Fair

Dinosaurs at the Plant Fair

Dinosaur bone search added attraction

Time to help out to ease drought

Time to help out to ease drought

How you can help struggling farmers

Local Partners