The Court today held its first special leave hearings for 2016, in its Sydney and Canberra registries. All the Sydney applications were rejected, while in Canberra, the Court granted special leave in just one matter and also referred a pair of appeals to the full court [EDIT: connected to a matter granted special leave in November]. Matters where leave was refused include two further pre-trial challenges by alleged foreign incursion promoter, Hamid Alqudsi, and a high profile appeal by a farmer who lost his organic certification when genetically modified crops grown by his neighbour contaminated his land.
The lower court decisions to be considered by the Court are:
- Hall & Hall, a decision of the Full Court of the Family Court. The High Court registry does not list a media neutral citation for Family Court matters that allows the matter appealed to be conclusively identified. Nevertheless, Austlii lists only one full court family law decision named Hall & Hall (both pseudonyms) in 2015 at  FamCAFC 154. The case is an appeal against an interim order that one spouse pay $10,000 per month another, on the basis that the latter had insufficient funds to live. Although the Full Court rejected complaints that the recipient spouse had not disclosed or proven her potential income from share-holdings and her father’s will, it nevertheless retrospectively reversed the order because of fresh evidence on appeal that her father had left her brother an amount that he intended would provide her with $150,000 per annum income after tax.
- R v Presley, Miller & Smith  SASCFC 53, an appeal by three people convicted of a murder on the basis that they used a baseball bat and a bottle to assault a man, while a fourth person, Betts, fatally stabbed him with a knife. [EDIT: The High Court granted special leave to one of the three, Miller, last November.] The South Australian full court rejected the arguments of the remaining two that their jury should have been told that the prosecution had to prove that they foresaw that Betts meant to kill the man (rather than that her merely meant to seriously injure him), that they had to foresee the manner of death and that the trial judge’s directions on intoxication and the alternative verdict of manslaughter were inadequate. It also rejected further arguments by Smith, who denied being present at the fight, that the trial judge’s directions about his lie to the police about his whereabouts that night and the relevance of DNA found on a bottle near the scene, were inadequate.
I’ve updated this post to reflect the fact that Presley and Smith are co-appellants in a case of a third person, Miller, that was granted special leave in November. (I thought the facts sounded familiar, but it sometimes gets like that in criminal law.) The transcripts of Smith and Presley make it clear that the referral to the full court is limited to the intoxication issue on which Miller was granted special leave.