Mr Lehrmann launched defamation action in March against Network 10 and Wilkinson, former host of The Project, over its 2021 broadcast of Ms Higgins’ rape allegations against him.
He later also launched proceedings against the ABC over the live broadcast of a National Press Club address by Ms Higgins, during which she made the same allegations.
Mr Lehrmann strongly denies the allegations.
While he was not named as Ms Higgins’ alleged rapist in either broadcast, Mr Lehrmann claims people in parliamentary circles were able to identify him.
At a case management hearing in the Federal Court on Monday, Justice Michael Lee heard Channel 10 plan to call 28 witnesses tot he stand during the four-week trial in November – including Wilkinson and Ms Higgins.
However, the network said it had not yet received an affidavit from Ms Higgins.
Brittany Higgins has tweeted that she was willing to be a witness at a civil trial
But rather than have them provide affidavits to the court, Justice Lee said he wanted to hear Mr Lehrmann and Ms Higgins give evidence ‘viva voce’.
This means both parties would be give their evidence-in-chief orally rather than in written document to the court.
This is the first time Mr Lehrmann will give evidence in person at trial. He did not take the stand during the criminal trial.
While the trial was originally just going to hear the case between Mr Lehrmann and Network 10, Justice Lee on Monday decided he would hear both cases together.
‘There’s clear battlelines in this case including a public interest defence in ABC proceedings,’ he told the court.
‘I do think I’ll hear both proceedings together.’
The court was told the evidence in the trial will also include expert witnesses who gave evidence on ‘reaction and responses of victims of sexual assault’, and a toxicology expert who analysed Ms Higgins and her ‘level of intoxication’.
The barrister for Channel Ten, Tim Senior said the expert reports would shed light on ‘the reactions and responses of victims of sexual assault … and how things like memory may be affected’.
A toxicology expert’s opinion, he said, would speak to Ms Higgins’ level of intoxication on the night in question.
Lehrmann has never before testified in court about the rape claims, which he has always denied
Matthew Richardson, who was acting for Mr Lehrmann, said the first report, written by a clinical psychologist, offered not only an opinion about ‘the typical behaviour of victims of sexual assault’ but ‘also posits opinions that, for instance, false complaints are rare’.
‘There certainly will be objection to that evidence, starting from … whether or not there is a recognised field of expertise and so on, but also the conclusions and the opinions that are expressed, we would say, have no sufficient factual foundation,’ Mr Richardson said.
‘It really appears to be an analysis of academic papers. As to whether we will object to the toxicology report, we just haven’t come to a view yet.’
Justice Lee said he had no idea expert witnesses were going to give evidence, and said he had the intention of determining whether the reports would be admissible ahead of the trial.
In May, Mr Lehrmann dropped a defamation lawsuit against News Corp’s News Life Media and journalist Samantha Maiden.
News Life Media did not have to make an apology or pay damages, and the articles of concern have remained online.
Mr Lehrmann’s Supreme Court trial in the ACT last year was aborted due to juror misconduct. He had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting Ms Higgins.
The charges were subsequently dropped by the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions, who declined to pursue a retrial over concerns about Ms Higgins’ mental health.
Mr Lehrmann has continued to deny the allegations.