A 3:2 majority of the High Court has dismissed an appeal from a decision of the Full Federal Court relating to the dismissal of an employee engaged in industrial action who held a sign that read ‘No principles, SCABS, No guts’ which was deemed to be ‘offensive’ and contrary to BHP’s code of conduct. Continue reading
The High Court has partly allowed an appeal from a decision of the NSW Court of Appeal relating to the assessment of damages and fund management fees. Continue reading
The High Court has allowed two appeals from sentencing decisions of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in Kentwell and O’Grady. Continue reading
The High Court has unanimously allowed an appeal against the decision of the NSW Court of Appeal, in The Owners — Strata Plan No 61288 v Brookfield Australia Investments Ltd. Continue reading
The High Court has allowed an an appeal from the decision of the Full Federal Court which recognised the existence in Australian law of an implied term of mutual trust and confidence between employers and employees. Continue reading
The High Court has decided a special case and upheld the validity of s 18 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1945 (Qld), which relates to continued detention of child sex offenders after the expiry of sentence, ‘at her Majesty’s pleasure’, on the grounds that the ‘offender is incapable of exercising proper control over the offender’s sexual instincts’. Continue reading
The High Court has unanimously allowed an appeal against the decision of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia in R v Fitzgerald and acquitted the appellant of murder. Continue reading
The High Court has unanimously allowed an appeal against the decision of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in R v Honeysett, and has quashed the appellant’s conviction and ordered a new trial. Continue reading
The High Court has upheld a challenge to the validity of the Migration Amendment (Unauthorised Maritime Arrival) Regulation 2013 (Cth), known as the PPV Regulation, in two related matters. The Court held the Minister’s determinations in relation to Plaintiffs S297/2013 and M150/2013 were invalid and issued a writ of mandamus in each instance directing the Minister to consider and determine each visa application according to law. Continue reading
The High Court has allowed an appeal against the decision of the Full Federal Court in FTZK. FTZK is an asylum seeker who was accused of involvement in a kidnapping-murder while he was in China, an accusation he claims was motivated by his religious practices. Continue reading
The High Court has decided the special case arising out of and brought by the same applicant in the recent landmark constitutional law decision, Williams v Commonwealth  HCA 23, and has ruled that the SUQ Funding Agreement is not supported by the legislative or executive power of the Commonwealth.
Both the present challenge and Williams [No 1] revolved around the Commonwealth’s power to enter into an agreement to fund the public company Scripture Union Queensland’s (SUQ) delivery of chaplaincy services to the Darling Heights State Primary School (attended by Mr William’s children). In Williams [No 1], a majority of the Court held that the executive power of the Commonwealth could not support its entry into the agreement with SUQ in order to fund the chaplaincy program because the executive does not have a broad power to enter into contracts or spend public money without the support of legislation (absent another recognised source of power).
This challenge related to the new funding arrangement with SUQ for the renewed and renamed chaplaincy program, funded by a new series of appropriations acts (which also purportedly support the Commonwealth’s entry into the arrangement). Following the decision in Williams No 1, the Commonwealth Parliament inserted s 32B into the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth), which (in conjunction with associated regulations) purports to grant the Commonwealth a general power to make, vary or administer arrangements and grants, where those arrangements or grants are specified in regulations.
The stated case raised eight questions to be answered by the Full Court. The central issues are whether the Commonwealth’s entry into the SUQ funding agreement is authorised by various appropriation acts, and if not, whether s 32B (and its associated regulations) is wholly invalid as going beyond the ambit of the Commonwealth’s executive power, and if not, whether those provisions are supported by a head of legislative power in the Australian Constitution (specifically, ss 51(xxiiiA), 51(xx) or 51(xxxix), operating in conjunction with s 61).
The Court held that the scheme was not supported by s 51(xxiiiA) because the provision of chaplaincy services is not a ‘benefit’ within the meaning of s 51(xxiiiA) in the sense of material aid (as interpreted by the Court in British Medical Association v Commonwealth  HCA 44 or Alexandra Private Geriatric Hospital Pty Ltd v Commonwealth  HCA 6) directly made to students. Payments to be applied as wages to chaplains who are to ‘support the wellbeing’ of students are not ‘benefits’ to students within the meaning of s 51(xxiiiA): at . Nor was it supported by s 51(xx) as the scheme does not regulate or permit any act by or on behalf of a corporation: ‘[t]he corporation’s capacity to make the agreement and receive and apply the payments is not provided by the impugned provisions’ (at ). The Court also declined to reopen Williams [No 1] on the basis that the Commonwealth’s submissions here were ‘no more than a repetition of the “broad basis” submissions’ on executive power rejected by the majority in Williams [No 1], and noting that the Commonwealth’s arguments rested on a ‘false assumption’ about the ambit of federal executive power (see at –). Finally, the Court rejected the s 51(xxxix) argument as being contrary to Pape v Commissioner of Taxation  HCA 23 and Williams [No 1]: appropriations do not necessarily bring the expenditures within the power of the Commonwealth. Crennan J agreed with the majority but made a reservation regarding s 51(xxiiiA) noting that it was unnecessary for the Court to come to any conclusions on the wisdom of the scheme (at ); instead it was only necessary to find that the scheme did not provide government assistance to or for students as prescribed and identifiable beneficiaries: , .
The Full Court has decided the special case in Plaintiff S156/2013 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, and has upheld the validity of the challenged legislation and the Minister’s designation of Papua New Guinea as a regional processing country. Continue reading
The High Court has unanimously dismissed an appeal against the decision of the Full Federal Court in Howard v Commissioner of Taxation, which involved three appeals to the Federal Court relating to the appellant’s 2005 and 2006 taxable income. Continue reading
The High Court has unanimously allowed two appeals against the decision of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in Lee v The Queen. Continue reading
The High Court has unanimously dismissed an appeal against the decision of the NSWCA in Van Dyke v Sidhu. Continue reading
The High Court has unanimously allowed an appeal against the ACT Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss an appeal against multiple convictions for child sexual offences and rape by a family friend of the complainants. The Court quashed each of the four convictions and a new trial has been ordered for those counts. Continue reading
The High Court has unanimously dismissed an appeal against the decision of the NSW Court of Appeal in a case concerning (among other things) the scope of so-called ‘defences’ to restitutionary claims, specifically the change of position defence. Continue reading
A five-member bench of the High Court has unanimously allowed an appeal against the decision of the Victorian Court of Appeal in Atco Controls Pty Ltd (in liq) v Stewart. Continue reading
A majority of the High Court has allowed an appeal against the decision of the Northern Territory Court of Appeal in Attorney-General (NT) v Emmerson. Continue reading
- Brad Jessup, ‘The Court Hurts: Commonwealth v Australian Capital Territory (Same Sex Marriage Case)’ (23 April 2014).
- Jeremy Gans, ‘News: The High Court Sets a Date’ (4 December 2013).
- Jeremy Gans, ‘News: Same-Sex Marriage Hearings Ins and Outs’ (3 December 2013).
- Brad Jessup, ‘News: The ACT Same Sex Marriage Law and Friends of the Court’ (27 November 2013).
- Jeremy Gans, ‘News: Same-Sex Marriage Case Hearing Set for 3 and 4 December’ (5 November 2013).
- Jeremy Gans, ‘News: The ACT Signals It May Dispute the Commonwealth’s Claims about Marriage’ (28 October 2013).
- Brad Jessup, ‘News: Sex, No Specific Sex, and Same Sex: The ACT’s ‘Marriage Equality Laws’ and Norrie’s Case‘ (27 October 2013).
- Martin Clark, ‘News: Commonwealth’s Same-Sex Marriage Challenge Submissions Now Online’ (24 October 2013).