The world's biggest listed winemaker has accused prominent Melbourne lawyer Mark Elliott of pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the company for financial gain.
Treasury Wine Estates told the Supreme Court of Victoria that the class action should be suspended or continue without Mr Elliott under abuse-of-process laws.
Treasury Wine is facing two class action lawsuits flowing from a surprise $160 million write-down and profit warning in July linked to its troubled US wine business. Mr Elliott is running his own class action through MCI, while litigation funder IMF and its partner law firm Maurice Blackburn are pursuing their own shareholder class action.
Counsel for the company, Alan Mitchell, told the court that Mr Elliott, who runs specialist class action vehicle Melbourne City Investments, owned $600 to $700 worth of shares in 158 different publicly listed companies ''predominantly for the purpose of generating fees'' through legal action.
It is understood those companies include Treasury Wine as well as Leighton Holdings and WorleyParsons, also under class action claims by MCI.
But MCI rejected the claim and accused Treasury Wine of deliberately undermining the class actions on ''flimsy grounds for tactical reasons''.
In the hearing on Friday Norman O'Bryan, for MCI, said Mr Elliott's shareholdings were ''irrelevant'' to the proceedings and did not impede on his ability to undertake class actions in the best interest of members.
Mr Elliott, a class action specialist and former partner with Minter Ellison, is also engaged in actions against collapsed rural lender Banksia through MCI.
Treasury Wine moved to table a list of Mr Elliott's shareholdings as part of its application but was denied by Justice Anne Ferguson.
The company has taken action against Mr Elliott personally as well as against MCI.
It is not the first time Treasury Wine has taken Mr Elliott to court. In November, the company sought a Supreme Court injunction to stop him from accessing the company's shareholder register.
On Friday, the company accused Mr Elliott of having shares in companies for the ''predominant purpose'' of collecting fees. It said this was an abuse of the class-action process.
Its application called for Mr Elliott to be removed from the proceedings.
MCI has not disputed the facts but said it was possible for Mr Elliott to hold shares in companies without him gaining a ''collateral advantage'' in a successful class action.
Justice Ferguson reserved her judgment.