A three-day court battle scheduled for late August will determine the future of Sydney’s iconic Midnight Shift.

On August 25, 26 and 27 Midnight Shift venue owners Tim Berry and Clarence Cruz will face-off against Arunta Investments, the owners of the building who seized control of the venue on July 3.

It took two days of preliminary hearings to set the dates for when both sides will present evidence and state their cases — with lawyers for the parties returning to court for a third hearing last Monday.

Last Wednesday, Berry and Cruz were granted a hearing of evidence, to be scheduled for early August, by Justice Michael Ball of the NSW Supreme Court’s equity division.

But on Friday Justice Patricia Bergin found the earliest dates available for a three day hearing were August 25 to 27.

Arunta Investment’s barrister told the court he had prior commitments for those dates and sought to have a hearing delayed for a further five weeks. His request was unsuccessful and Justice Bergin set the dates.

During the same hearing lawyers for Cruz and Berry told the court that rent on the venue was up-to-date and that $131,000 covering the outgoings due on June 30 had been paid by cheque to Arunta the previous day.

Lawyers for Arunta Investments claimed that a further $9000 is due, but Berry and Cruz dispute this.

The court also heard of $40,000 in earnings still in the building when Arunta took control of the venue and had the locks changed on the morning of Saturday, July 3.

The $40,000 had been placed in a safe within the court and Berry and Cruz sought to have the money returned.

Lawyers for Arunta opposed this, so the parties were ordered to return to Justice Bergin’s courtroom last Monday at 2pm.

Sydney Star Observer understands this money has now been returned to Berry and Cruz at Justice Bergin’s order.

Speaking by phone after Monday’s hearing, Berry told Sydney Star Observer he was optimistic about how things were progressing, but found the slow pace of justice frustrating.

Berry said he believed Arunta should have provided him with a full 14 days to pay any money owing before taking control of the business.

Arunta Investments’ executive director Mark Mader said he would not be making any comment prior to the August hearings.

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