The legal battle between Hungry Jack's and a young woman thrown out of the fast-food chain's Wangaratta store she had been running for seven months has been settled.
County Court judge Michael Macnamara announced the confidential settlement on Tuesday after the parties had been in talks for several days.
Justice Macnamara said the matter had been settled by consent.
Hungry Jack's had sued Toni Collins, who was evicted from the Wangaratta store in October 2009, for more than $720,000 over the failed franchise. She had lodged a counter-claim seeking more than $350,000.
The civil trial began in the County Court last week with revelations Hungry Jack's founder, Jack Cowin, had asked fellow senior executives how the fast-food chain could let a "29-year-old single woman" run one of its franchises.
Mr Cowin, in the lead-up to Hungry Jack's opening the restaurant in Wangaratta in early 2009, wrote in an email: "What on Earth are we doing giving a franchise to a 29-year-old single woman?", the County Court heard.
Mr Cowin's correspondence was among a series of emails read to the court during the trial.
Mr Cowin – a board member of Fairfax Media, owner of The Age – told his company's then chief executive in one email that the failing Wangaratta store was a problem and to "fix" it and "clean this up".
Mr Cowin said he was concerned Ms Collins might seek compensation, and that he was worried she would cause "considerable damage ... especially when she gets the news there will be no compensation paid".
Dan Christie, representing Ms Collins, told the court senior Hungry Jack's executives failed to provide the franchisee with the training and support they had promised before she took over the new Wangaratta store in March 2009.
Mr Christie accused the fast-food chain of "unconscionable and unfair conduct" in its dealings with Ms Collins and said it had made a series of misrepresentations to her prior to her signing on to become a franchisee.
In one email from Hungry Jack's then national franchise director, Warren Honkey, Ms Collins was referred to as the company's "reserve candidate" and "Toni 'Legs' Collins".
Mr Christie said in January 2009, Ms Collins was summonsed from a holiday in Queensland to a meeting in Sydney, where she was told by executives she had to decide "then and there" whether to take up the offer.
Ms Collins was allegedly not permitted to consult her lawyer, accountant or any family members at the time. Hungry Jack's franchises cost $60,000 plus legal costs.
Mr Christie said Hungry Jack's had set Ms Collins up for failure and that her business was "doomed from the outset". The company took over control of the store after she was evicted.
But a lawyer for Hungry Jack's told the court the company strongly denied claims its executives did not provide Ms Collins with the training and support promised to her.
Barrister Adam Rollnik said before she was granted a franchise, Ms Collins had impressed Hungry Jack's executives with her past business experience, net assets of more than $650,000 and "savvy" negotiating skills.
He rejected claims her franchise was doomed to fail from the outset, as it was in the company's best interests for the Wangaratta store to succeed.