Former defence minister Linda Reynolds, her ex-staffer Brittany Higgins and her fiancee David Sharaz will be forced into two-day mediation talks in a last-ditch effort to settle their legal fight and avoid a gruelling trial.

Ms Reynolds launched legal proceedings against Ms Higgins in the WA Supreme Court, claiming her ex-employee defamed her in two social media posts in July.

She also accused the 28-year-old of breaching a non-disparagement clause in a deed of settlement and release they signed in March 2021.

It was signed around the time Ms Reynolds called Ms Higgins a “lying cow” after she publicly claimed she was raped fellow Canberra staffer Bruce Lehrmann in Ms Reynolds’ office.

A trial against him was vacated last October following juror misconduct, then a retrial was dumped due to fears for Ms Higgins’ mental health, leading to the charge being dropped.

Mr Lehrmann has continually denied Ms Higgins’s claim

Ms Reynolds began legal action against Mr Sharaz, claiming he defamed her in three tweets, a Facebook post and an Instagram post in December last year and January.

During a hearing in the WA Supreme Court on Wednesday, Justice Marcus Solomon renewed his call for the matters to be dealt with via mediation rather than a trial, or trials.

He ordered the parties to meet in Perth on March 5 and 6, reiterating he was concerned about the “human cost of the litigation”.

It is still yet to be determined whether the matters will go to trial together or separately if it reaches that point.

Whether a jury would be involved was also yet to be determined.

It was further revealed there had been subpoenas issued to journalists, including high profile reporters Lisa Wilkinson and Samantha Maiden.

Tentative trial dates have been set to begin on July 24 but Mr Sharaz’s lawyer Jason MacLaurin said he had not ruled out requesting a transfer to the ACT.

Ms Higgins’ lawyer Nicholas Owen said there was “no present intention” to do the same.

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