A Fyshwick brewery has lost its legal battle against the University of Canberra after suing it for breach of contract claiming it had lost $1.6 million.
However, Justice John Burns handed down his decision on Friday, finding in favour of the university and the staff-run union and ordering the Zierholz brewery to pay more than $13,000 plus costs.
Zierholz, which operated a bar and live music venue at the university between 2012 and 2015, sued the university after it opened a competing bar, the Well, on the campus in 2015.
Zierholz claimed the university had breached its contract and failed its fiduciary duty to the bar by allowing and supporting the Well as a direct competitor.
However, Justice Burns determined that the agreement reached between Zierholz and the university did not, in fact, create a fiduciary relationship.
"The licence agreement did not grant Zierholz the exclusive right to serve alcohol, nor did it restrain the UC from granting a licence to competing businesses," Justice John Burns found.
A fiduciary refers to a party who holds trust over assets on behalf of another party. For example, a company owes a fiduciary duty to its shareholders.
The judge offered a scathing assessment of Zierholz's case.
"It was not always easy to understand the exact nature of Zierholz's case," he said.
"Its case ... evolved over time, with certain aspects of its case being abandoned and others given greater prominence."
Zierholz claimed the university union had failed to adequately promote the bar as an event venue, however, Justice Burns determined the agreement did not oblige the union to do so.
A University of Canberra spokeswoman welcomed the court's decision.
"We acted in good faith throughout our relationship with Zierholz@UC, including by providing concessions such as rent abatement, waiving and reducing rent," she said.
"The university and union made repeated efforts to resolve this matter outside of court, and are disappointed costly litigation of this nature occurred. We are pleased with the ultimate outcome, however, and hope all parties can move forward."