A bitter legal dispute between mining magnate Gina Rinehart and her two eldest children was precariously balanced on Tuesday, as last-minute negotiations stalled the public airing of the family feud once again.
On the eve of the much-anticipated Supreme Court trial, Mrs Rinehart and her youngest daughter, Ginia - who has sided with her mother against older siblings John Hancock and Bianca Rinehart - put forward a suggested replacement trustee of a $5 billion family trust, sparking discussions between the two parties for most of the day.
Last week, Mrs Rinehart offered to relinquish her role as trustee, meaning the hearing was now likely to focus on whether she deceived her children and was involved in altering tax advice from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers about the vesting of the trust.
While Mr Hancock's barrister Christopher Withers told the court the person identified by Mrs Rinehart as the replacement trustee was not ideal, he said there was also some ''utility'' and asked the court for ''some time to have those discussions''.
The late settlement offer is not the first time Mrs Rinehart has tried to resolve issues on the eve of a trial. She settled out of court after a decade-long battle with her stepmother Rose Porteous after her father Lang Hancock died in 1992.
On Tuesday, the court also heard that lawyers for Mrs Rinehart objected to the opening submissions made on behalf of the children, on the basis they were ''beyond the scope'' of the pleaded case.
The mining magnate may also face investigation by the replacement trustee over her decision to decrease the trust's holding in Hancock Prospecting to 23.4 per cent, and move the giant Hope Downs mine, which is being jointly developed with Rio Tinto, from the trust to the company.
In another twist, West Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest has publicly supported Mr Hancock in his attempt to become the trustee.
The case resumes on Wednesday morning but, if no agreement has been made, pre-trial issues will need to be determined.
One of these is the affidavit sworn by Mr Forrest, the court heard, in support of Mr Hancock taking the helm as trustee. Mrs Rinehart's lawyers have objected to this.
The $5 billion family trust was set up by Mrs Rinehart's father, Lang Hancock.
The two eldest children argue their mother has not acted in the best interests of the beneficiaries and has deliberately deceived them.
The dispute erupted two years ago, days before Ginia was to turn 25, triggering the vesting of the trust.
Mrs Rinehart told her children they would be bankrupt due to a capital gains liability if they did not extend the trust and grant her further powers.
Last week, lawyers for Mrs Rinehart said she wanted to step down as trustee in an attempt to resolve the long-running dispute which her lawyers told the court had resulted in an ''untenable risk'' for her Hancock Prospecting.
She said she wanted a lineal descendent to be appointed as replacement.
However, the family failed to agree on a suitable candidate at a mediation last week and it looks likely that decision will be made by the court.