The High Court today rejected all of the applications for special leave to appeal listed in its Sydney and Perth registries, but granted leave in three South Australian matters:
- Philcox v King  SASCFC 38 involves a negligence action for mental harm after a car accident. The plaintiff had driven past the scene of the accident five times, noticing that someone died but not realising it was his brother. The Full Court of the South Australian Supreme Court overturned the trial judge’s findings that the plaintiff was not ‘present’ at the ‘accident’ and that the sole cause of his mental harm was being later told that his brother had died. The dispute turns in part on the meaning of tort law reform provisions passed in response to two High Court decisions on the duty of care in mental harm cases.
- R v Lindsay  SASCFC 56 involves a claim that the accused was provoked into a killing because the deceased had twice propositioned him for sex in front of his family. A majority of South Australia’s Court of Criminal Appeal held that the trial judge made several errors when directing the jury on the defence of provocation, but nevertheless dismissed the appeal on the ground that the defence was not available because no ordinary person would lose control and kill someone in those circumstances. They also held that a sentence above South Australia’s 20-year mandatory minimum non-parole period for murder was merited despite the victim’s conduct and because the accused was a continuing danger to the community.
- Wealthsure Pty Ltd v Selig  FCAFC 64 involves successful claims in tort, contract and corporations law against several people, including a financial services company and one of its authorised representatives, by two investors in what the trial judge labeled a ‘Ponzi’ scheme. The Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed most of the defendants’ appeal grounds, but a majority held that the plaintiffs’ $1.7M damages should be reduced 15% because of their contributory negligence and that the defendants’ liability should be limited to their 60% responsibility. The damages dispute turns on the meaning of a corporate law reform provision that responded to two High Court decisions on apportioning damages for misleading or deceptive conduct.