It was a peculiar case with a council taking legal action against itself.
That was how the chief judge of the Land and Environment Court, Justice Brian Preston, summed up the situation on Wednesday, when the matter of Armidale Regional Council taking out an injunction against five of its councillors came before him.
The five councillors, who all appeared as witnesses on Wednesday afternoon, all said they intended to terminate the contract of the council's chief executive officer Susan Law, but they were prevented from doing so when the council took out an injunction to stop them voting on the matter.
Before the extraordinary meeting could go ahead early last month, a temporary injunction was granted against councillors Ian Tiley, Debra O'Brien, Dorothy Robinson, Margaret O'Connor and Jon Galletly.
The council's allegation was that the five councillors were guilty of apprehended bias against the CEO, and it is seeking a permanet injunction.
But Justice Preston questioned why the council was essentially taking legal action against itself.
"You've got this curious situation where the council is bringing proceedings to say that it apprehends that it will be biased," Justice Preston told the court, which was conducted in an online hearing.
"Why will it be biased? Because a majority of councillors will exercise their vote in a way which could deny procedural fairness to the general manager.
"So it is a curious position that the council has put itself in," he said.
He suggested the council should have been the defendant in a case brought by Mrs Law instead.
The five councillors all submitted affidavits, which were tendered to the court.
Among the concerns raised about Mrs Law's performance, that were mentioned in the hearing, was knocking back $4 million from the state government for work at Dumaresq Dam.
During Cr O'Brien's evidence, she said the councillors were not aware of the offer, and the first she knew of it was when she saw a text message sent from Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall to Cr Peter Bailey about it.
She said two councillors approached the mayor Simon Murray to discuss the issue with Mrs Law.
"She certainly knew we weren't happy with that," Cr O'Brien said.
The council was represented by Margaret Allars, SC, who quizzed all five councillors about whether they had raised their concerns with Mrs Law.
Several of them replied that they did not have to give the CEO any warning when terminating her contract.
Cr Galletly, who was the final witness, said he believed the CEO could remain if the council had a different mayor, with part of his affidavit read out, which said if Ian Tiley became mayor, the council could improve and there would be no need to terminate the CEO's contract.
He was also asked if he spoke to Mrs Law about their concerns.
"I presume she'd have a pretty fair idea," Cr Galletly said.
The case continues on Thursday.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.