Zhang v Commissioner of Police [2021] HCA 16 (12 May 2021) (Kiefel CJ, Gageler, Keane, Gordon, Edelman, Steward and Gleeson JJ)


Catchwords:


Police – Search warrants – Validity of warrants – Validity of orders – Where officers of Australian Federal Police (“AFP”) searched premises in reliance on warrants – Where officers of AFP seized material they believed relevant to offences against s 92.3(1) and (2) of Criminal Code (Cth) – Where officers examined and copied data from electronic devices at searched premises – Where plaintiff compelled to provide passcodes to devices pursuant to orders under s 3LA of Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) – Where warrants purported to authorise search and seizure of material relevant to offences against s 92.3(1) and (2) of Criminal Code – Where plaintiff accepted warrants severable – Whether warrants identified the substance of offences against s 92.3(1) of Criminal Code with sufficient precision.

Constitutional law (Cth) – Implied freedom of communication about government or political matters – Where warrants purported to authorise search and seizure of material relevant to offences against s 92.3(1) and (2) of Criminal Code – Where plaintiff accepted warrants severable – Where plaintiff accepted various sub-paragraphs of s 92.3(1)(b), (c) and (d) capable of severance under s 15A of Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) – Whether appropriate to proceed to determine constitutional validity of s 92.3(1) of Criminal Code or construction of “covert”.

Words and phrases – “covert”, “foreign government principal”, “foreign influence”, “foreign interference”, “foreign principal”, “implied freedom of political communication”, “necessary to decide”, “premature interpretation of statutes”, “prudential considerations”, “read down”, “search warrants”, “severable”, “severance”, “substance of the offences”, “sufficient precision”, “unnecessary and inappropriate to answer”.