Recent Cases

High Court of Australia

  • Catchwords: Criminal practice – Appeal – Crown appeal against sentence – Where appellant sentenced on pleas of guilty to six offences arising out of course of commercial dealing in cannabis plant material and MDMA – Where prosecution appealed against sentence on ground of manifest inadequacy – Where three-member Bench of Court of Criminal Appeal (“CCA”) heard appeal and announced intention to allow appeal but referred relevant question of statutory construction to five‑member Bench – Where eleven months after initial hearing, CCA delivered judgment of five-member Bench, then immediately re-constituted to deliver judgment of three-member Bench, allowing appeal and re-sentencing to increased term of imprisonment – Where appellant not given opportunity to place material before CCA as to progress in custody, nor make submissions on re-sentence or dismissal of appeal in exercise of “residual discretion” – Whether CCA failed to accord appellant procedural fairness in conduct of hearing of appeal against sentence – Whether CCA erred in determining to allow appeal against sentence when all circumstances relevant to exercise of “residual discretion” not yet known – Whether matter should be remitted to CCA for re-sentencing of appellant. Words and phrases – “aggregate sentence”, “Crown appeal against sentence”, “delay in the appeal process”, “discretionary factors against allowing the Crown appeal”, “imminence of the offender’s release”, “manifestly inadequate”, “procedural fairness”, “proper exercise of discretion”, “re‑sentencing exercise”, “residual discretion”.

  • Catchwords: Criminal practice – Appeal – Crown appeal against sentence – Where appellant sentenced on pleas of guilty to six offences arising out of course of commercial dealing in cannabis plant material and MDMA – Where prosecution appealed against sentence on ground of manifest inadequacy – Where three-member Bench of Court of Criminal Appeal (“CCA”) heard appeal and announced intention to allow appeal but referred relevant question of statutory construction to five‑member Bench – Where eleven months after initial hearing, CCA delivered judgment of five-member Bench, then immediately re-constituted to deliver judgment of three-member Bench, allowing appeal and re-sentencing to increased term of imprisonment – Where appellant not given opportunity to place material before CCA as to progress in custody, nor make submissions on re-sentence or dismissal of appeal in exercise of “residual discretion” – Whether CCA failed to accord appellant procedural fairness in conduct of hearing of appeal against sentence – Whether CCA erred in determining to allow appeal against sentence when all circumstances relevant to exercise of “residual discretion” not yet known – Whether matter should be remitted to CCA for re-sentencing of appellant. Words and phrases – “aggregate sentence”, “Crown appeal against sentence”, “delay in the appeal process”, “discretionary factors against allowing the Crown appeal”, “imminence of the offender’s release”, “manifestly inadequate”, “procedural fairness”, “proper exercise of discretion”, “re‑sentencing exercise”, “residual discretion”.

  • Catchwords: Tort – Battery – Statutory authorisation – Where CS gas (form of tear gas) used by prison officer in youth detention centre – Where prison officer called to assist at youth detention centre – Where detainees exposed to CS gas claimed damages for battery – Where device used to deploy CS gas prohibited weapon under Weapons Control Act (NT) – Whether deployment of CS gas by prison officer in youth detention centre lawful – Whether prison officer acting in course of duties as prison officer such that exemption for prescribed persons in s 12(2) of Weapons Control Act applied – Whether authorised by delegation of powers of superintendent of youth detention centre under s 157(2) of Youth Justice Act (NT) – Whether authorised by prison officer having powers of police officer under s 9 of Prisons (Correctional Services) Act (NT). Words and phrases – “acting in the course of his or her duties”, “battery”, “bodily integrity”, “breach of the peace”, “bystander”, “collateral damage”, “detainees”, “emergency situation”, “ensure the safe custody and protection”, “maintain discipline”, “maintain order”, “necessary or convenient”, “police officer”, “positive authority”, “prescribed person”, “prison officer”, “prisoner”, “prohibited weapon”, “superintendent”, “tortious liability”, “use of force that is reasonably necessary”, “youth detention centre”.

  • Catchwords: Administrative law (Cth) – Judicial review – Archives – Access to records – Where Governor‑General engaged in correspondence with Her Majesty the Queen – Where correspondence described as personal and confidential – Where Official Secretary to Governor‑General kept correspondence and made arrangement to deposit correspondence with predecessor organisation to National Archives of Australia (“Archives”) – Where correspondence deposited by Official Secretary on instructions of former Governor-General after his retirement – Where Archives Act 1983 (Cth) subsequently enacted – Where s 31 of Archives Act provides that Commonwealth records within care of Archives must be made available for public access when within “open access period” – Where s 3(1) defines “Commonwealth record” as including “record that is the property of the Commonwealth or of a Commonwealth institution” – Where “Commonwealth institution” defined as including “the official establishment of the Governor‑General” – Whether correspondence property of Commonwealth or of official establishment of Governor‑General – Whether “property” within context of Archives Act connoted relationship involving holding of rights corresponding to ownership or possession at common law or connoted existence of legally endorsed concentration of power to control custody of record. Words and phrases – “administration”, “archival resources of the Commonwealth”, “Archives”, “body politic”, “care and management”, “Commonwealth institution”, “Commonwealth record”, “comprehensive expression”, “convention”, “correspondence”, “created or received officially and kept institutionally”, “Crown in right of the Commonwealth”, “custody”, “functional unit of government”, “Govern

  • Catchwords: Criminal law – Parties to offences – Where group of eight males assaulted victim – Where group included appellants and a youth aged 11 years (“PM”) – Where one member of group stabbed victim causing death – Where appellants charged with murder under Criminal Code (WA) – Where Crown alleged seven males who did not stab victim deemed to have taken part in committing offence under s 7(b), s 7(c) or s 8 of Criminal Code – Where ss 7(b), 7(c) and 8 of Criminal Code operated when “an offence is committed” – Where reasonably possible that PM inflicted fatal stab wound – Where PM could not be criminally responsible for acts unless he had capacity to know he ought not to do act under s 29 of Criminal Code – Where prosecution adduced no evidence to establish capacity – Where trial judge declined to direct jury that they could not convict appellants of murder unless satisfied beyond reasonable doubt PM did not cause death – Where appellants convicted of murder – Whether trial judge erred in declining to direct jury that they could not convict appellants of murder unless satisfied that PM did not cause death – Whether “offence” committed for purposes of ss 7(b), 7(c) and 8 where failure to prove criminal responsibility of person who may have done act constituting offence. Words and phrases – “accessorial criminal liability”, “an offence is committed”, “authorised or justified or excused by law”, “commission of an offence”, “common law antecedents”, “construction of the Code”, “criminally responsible”, “enabler or aider”, “excuse”, “justification”, “liable to punishment”, “offence”, “participants in the offence”, “parties to the offence”, “party to an unlawful common purpose”, “principal offender”, “unlawful killing”.

Full Federal Court

NSW Court of appeal

  • Catchwords: APPEAL – determination of separate question –whether operators of Facebook pages published material posted by third parties – scope of separate question – findings going beyond scope of question CIVIL PROCEDURE – appearance – amici curiae – intervention by non-parties – non-party media companies who operate Facebook pages in similar circumstances to the applicant news companies – whether intervention appropriate –non-parties raising issues beyond the proposed appeal DEFAMATION – publication – internet technologies – operators of Facebook pages – whether operators published comments by third parties on news items posted on the pages – whether operators were instrumental in or participated in the publication of defamatory comments made by third parties MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS – broadcasting –operation of Broadcasting Act 1992 (Cth), cl 91 –liability of internet content hosts under state defamation law – issue not raised by parties in answering separate question

  • Catchwords: JUDGMENTS AND ORDERS – setting aside – consent judgment – general power to set aside judgment or order – challenge to validity of agreement – whether judgment based on agreement – Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005 (NSW), r 36.15(1) JUDGMENTS AND ORDERS – amending, varying and setting aside – consent judgement – orders entered – finality of entered orders CONTRACTS – grounds for setting aside – misleading or deceptive conduct – non-disclosure of information – relevance of actual or constructive knowledge of silent party as to complainant’s beliefs – relevance of undisclosed beliefs of complainant CIVIL PROCEDURE – Court of Appeal – leave to appeal – dismissal – lack of issue of principle, question of general public important or an injustice to the applicant going beyond merely arguable

  • Catchwords: JUDGMENTS AND ORDERS — application to vary or set aside orders – whether orders for the delivery of vacant possession be set aside or varied in light of the COVID-19 pandemic – whether executive or legislative instruments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic suggest that the orders ought to be set aside or varied – where vacant possession ordered as a consequence of an order under s 66G of the Conveyancing Act 1919 (NSW) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Catchwords: CONTRACTS — Construction — Interpretation –– whether contract formed pursuant to the appellant’s offer or the respondent’s counter-offer – whether the proper construction of the contract required supply of building materials and services at a price per unit as required or at a fixed sum – where quantity of units required unknown at the time of contracting – where context and businesslike construction militate against fixed sum

  • Catchwords: CIVIL PROCEDURE – time – extension of time – costs assessment – statutory appeal to District Court from determination of review panel – application for leave to appeal was filed 30 days late – whether primary judge erred in law in declining to grant an extension of time COSTS – party/party – appeals – appeal from costs assessment – nature of appeal from review panel to District Court – Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (NSW), s 89(1) JUDICIAL REVIEW – review of dismissal of appeal to District Court – grounds of review – whether errors of law on the face of the record limited to non-jurisdictional errors of law STATUTORY INTERPRETATION – amendment and repeal – changes to provisions governing appeals from costs assessments – relevance of other legislative provisions – applicability of decisions considering earlier statutory regimes