Beckett v New South Wales

Katy Barnett, ‘No Requirement to Prove Innocence in Malicious Prosecution: Beckett v New South Wales’ (3 July 2013).

In Beckett v New South Wales, the High Court unanimously allowed an appeal by Beckett against a decision of the NSW Court of Appeal, and held that she did not need to prove her innocence to prove the elements of the tort of malicious prosecution. After several of Beckett’s convictions were quashed and set to be retried, the DPP directed that it would not pursue a retrial of the outstanding charges. In 2008, Beckett instituted proceedings against New South Wales for the tort of malicious prosecution, relating to the original prosecution. The central issue for the High Court was whether the DPP’s decision not to retry the cases constituted a nolle prosequi (‘unwilling to pursue’: to cease prosecution), which in two earlier High Court decisions was held to mean that the plaintiff in a malicious prosecution case must demonstrate his or her innocence to satisfy the elements of the tort. The High Court overruled the original authority, Davis v Gell, and held that Beckett need not demonstrate her innocence in her proceedings against the State.

High Court Judgment [2013] HCA 17  8 May 2013
Result Appeal allowed
High Court Documents Beckett v NSW
Full Court Hearing [2013] HCATrans 4  5 February 2013
Special Leave Hearing [2012] HCATrans  252  5 October 2012
Appeal from NSWCA [2012] NSWCA 114  2 May 2012