The High Court today held special leave hearings today for sixteen matters from the ACT, NSW, South Australia, Western Australia and the Federal Court. Of these, six cases were granted special leave to appeal. The six cases are:
- R v Fitzgerald  SASCFC 82: This is an appeal to the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia from convictions for murder and serious injury after a horrific home invasion by six people. The defendant denied involvement and argued that the sole evidence linking him to the offence – his DNA profile found mixed with others on a didgeridoo that a victim picked up at one point – was transferred from an earlier handshake with his co-accused. The Full Court held that transfer was extremely unlikely. (The High Court today refused special leave to his co-accused, who was identified by his victims and who had joined the defendant in further complaints about the jury directions and the admissibility of a 000 call made during the crime.)
- Honeysett v R  NSWCCA 135: This is an appeal from an armed robbery conviction. The defendant challenged the admission of evidence from an anatomy professor who compared his image with CCTV of the robber (who was wearing a pillow on his head), identifying eight points of similarity and no points of difference. Distinguishing earlier cases rejecting video anatomical comparisons, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal held that the professor’s evidence was supported by his knowledge of anatomy and his ‘ad hoc’ expertise in the accused’s and offender’s appearance, acquired from his lengthy study of the videos.
- Maxwell v Highway Hauliers Pty Ltd  WASCA 115:This case concerns an insurance claim by a haulage company for damage to two of its trucks, which the insurer refused to pay because of a breach of a term of the insurance contact requiring that the drivers have passed a safety test. The Western Australian Court of Appeal held that the claim fell within a federal statutory provision designed to preserve the claims of insured parties where the breach of contract did not cause the claimed loss.
- Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship v SZRNY  FCAFC 104: This issue in this case is whether an unsuccessful applicant for a protection visa falls within a new law that came into effect after the applicant lost an appeal to the Refugee Review Tribunal. A majority of the Full Court of the Federal Court held that the new law applied because, due to an incorrect address on the Tribunal’s notice, the applicant only learnt of the Tribunal’s decision after the new law came into effect.
- Modena Trading Pty Ltd v Cantarella Bros Pty Ltd  FCAFC 110: This case concerns a trademark infringement action by the maker of Vittoria coffee who has registered the words ‘oro’ and ‘cinque stelle’ (Italian for gold and five stars.) The Full Court of the Federal Court upheld the argument of the importer of Molinari coffee that the trademarks are invalid, holding that their Italian meaning (especially given the association between coffee and Italy, and the number of Italian speakers in Australia) is descriptive of quality and is therefore not distinctive in Australia.
- The Owners – Strata Plan No 61288 v Brookfield Australia Investments Ltd  NSWCA 317: In this case, an owners corporation for serviced apartments in a Chatswood building brought a claim in negligence against the builder. The NSW Court of Appeal held that the builder owed a duty of care to future owners to prevent latent defects that were either structural, dangerous or made the building uninhabitable, rejecting the builder’s arguments that such a duty would circumvent the building contract, strata title legislation and the traditional limits of negligence law.