This week, the High Court decided three criminal law cases, declined to proceed with a fourth following a full hearing, awarded additional costs to the victor in an earlier matter and held two case management hearings: one, in the ongoing litigation about the Commonwealth’s powers to detain asylum seekers en route to Australia and another in a constitutional challenge to a NSW law revoking mining licences following a corruption inquiry.
As well, today, the High Court granted special leave to appeal in three commercial investment matters and a regulatory dispute involving a very high profile tragedy. The four matters to be appealed are:
- JPMorgan Chase Bank National Association v Fletcher; Grant Samuel Corporate Finance Pty Limited v Fletcher  NSWCA 31, a case concerning the bankruptcy of the Octaviar investment group. Octaviar’s liquidators obtained a extension of the time limit for making applications to void some of the company’s dealings under federal corporations law, and then obtained a further extension under a general rule allowing NSW courts to vary orders they made when one party was absent. A majority of the NSW Court of Appeal held that the second extension was permitted despite the federal law only permitting a single extension.
- Korda v Australian Executor Trustees (SA) Limited  VSCA 65, a case concerning an investment scheme relating to forestry companies that are now under administration. The scheme’s trustee argued that the terms of the 1964 trust deed limited investors’ interests to forestry proceeds that were transferred to the trustee. However, a majority of the Victorian Court of Appeal accepted the receivers’ argument that the terms of later prospectuses meant that proceeds that remained in the hands of the companies were held on trust for the investors.
- Lend Lease Development Pty Ltd v Commissioner of State Revenue  VSCA 207, a case concerning duties payable on land in Melbourne’s Docklands. The Commissioner assessed duty on the basis not only of the price of the land, but also additional amounts the the developers agreed to pay to VicUrban for external infrastructure. The Victorian Court of Appeal held that the additional payments were not dutiable, as they were neither consideration for the sales nor encumbrances on them.
- Today FM (Sydney) Pty Ltd v Australian Communications and Media Authority  FCAFC 22, a case concerning a Sydney radio show’s ‘hoax’ on two nurses treating the then pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, one of whom tragically suicided days later. The federal regulator commenced an inquiry into whether the hoax breached a licence condition that radio stations not commit any criminal offences, such as provisions concerning telecommunications interception and surveillance devices. The Full Court of the Federal Court held that legislation permitting the regulator to investigate breaches of licensing conditions did not extend to investigating possible offences that are neither admitted by a radio station nor proved in a criminal court.
Among the matters rejected for special leave today was another high profile matter, a criminal appeal by former water polo player Keli Lane against her conviction for murdering a baby who has not been seen since shortly after her birth.