McDonald’s and a group of protesters fiercely against the fast food giant’s plans for a restaurant at Tecoma have been ordered to go to mediation to settle the dispute.
Victorian Supreme Court Justice Emilios Kyrou ruled on Friday that the matter be referred to a mediator before November 12.
Justice Kyrou also agreed to extend an injunction stopping protesters from trespassing or blocking workers from entering the site in outer Melbourne, which has been the subject of continued protests.
McDonald’s had originally sought damages in the Victorian Supreme Court from eight of the protesters over the costs brought about by the delay.
The company dropped its claim for damages but is still seeking legal costs and a permanent injunction at the site.
Justice Kyrou said protesters had tried to thwart demolition at the site by trespassing and obstructing workers, with some even planting themselves on the roof.
He described the group as “well organised” and says it existed well before the Supreme Court case began.
He said protesters were able to quickly mobilise hundreds of people to their cause through social media, including Twitter, Facebook and internet forums.
“The activities of the protest group are coordinated and strategic,” he said in his ruling.
Justice Kyrou said some of the activities have been “aggressive” and deliberately violated the company’s legal rights to the land.
The decision comes in the same week that a four-person delegation from the group brought a petition against the restaurant to McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago.
The online petition received more than 99,000 signatures.
Justice Kyrou has ordered that the mediator report back to the court by November 19.