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of Superior Courts of Australia

Benchmark Podcast: Friday, 3 July 2015

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Case Summaries

Tarkine National Coalition v Minister for the Environment [2015] FCAFC 89
Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia
Kenny, Jessup & Middleton JJ
Administrative law - appellant challenged Minister’s decision to approve proposed action by second respondent to develop and operate hematite mine in north-western Tasmania - ‘controlled actions’ - ‘cumulative impacts’ - ss3A, 18, 18A, 19, 20, 20A, 37B, 45, 47, 67, 67A, 75, 82, 83, 130, 133, 134, 136, 139, 140, 145D, 146F & 527E Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC) - s25 Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (Tas) - held: s136 EPBC did not require Minister to consider ‘cumulative impacts’ of proposal - contention rejected that primary judge erred in not holding that s83 EPBC Act did not ‘disapply’ Pt 8 EPBC in respect of proposal - imposition of conditions by Minister on approval of proposal was within Minister’s power under s134 EPBC - appeal dismissed.
Tarkine (C G)
[From Benchmark Wednesday, 1 July 2015]

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    Arida v Arida [2015] NSWCA 170
    Court of Appeal of New South Wales
    Bathurst CJ, Macfarlan JA & Sackville AJA
    Contract - appellants and respondent co-owned property - respondent purchased property at auction from Trustees for sale - purchase not completed on completion date - special condition in contract for sale provided for payment of interest to Trustees if sale not completed on completion date - Heads of Agreement entered between appellants, respondent and Trustees in order to resolve wider disputes between appellants and respondent - whether Heads of Agreement amended contract of sale to remove respondent’s obligation to pay interest unless and until appellants paid money to him pursuant to Heads of Agreement - s66G Conveyancing Act 1919 - held: primary judge erred in construing Heads of Agreement so as to relieve respondent from obligation to pay interest pursuant contract of sale - Heads of Agreement did not relieve respondent from obligation to pay interest - appeal allowed.
    Arida (I B)
    [From Benchmark Monday, 29 June 2015]
    Prospect Resources Ltd v Molyneux [2015] NSWCA 171
    Court of Appeal of New South Wales
    Beazley P; Ward & Leeming JJA
    Contract - appellant company and respondent consortium entered subscription agreement under which consortium agreed to subscribe for shares in company's capital - company claimed conditions governing obligation to subscribe were satisfied and that consortium was required to pay - consortium claimed conditions were not satisfied and that it was entitled to terminate subscription agreement - primary judge found company had not reasonably satisfied consortium that conditions precedent had been satisfied and that there was no waiver of satisfaction of conditions precedent - company appealed - held: letter from company to consortium did not constitute waiver of ‘conditions precedent’ - provision of letter alone insufficient to meet requirement that company ‘reasonably satisfy’ consortium there was waiver of ‘conditions precedent’ - no error in exercise of primary judge’s discretion to order indemnity costs warranting appellate intervention - appeal dismissed.
    Prospect (I B)
    [From Benchmark Tuesday, 30 June 2015]
    Williams v Pisano [2015] NSWCA 177
    Court of Appeal of New South Wales
    Bathurst CJ; McColl & Emmett JJA
    Building and construction - trade practices - negligence - plaintiffs purchased house from owner-builder and husband - house was profoundly defective in its construction - sale preceded by false information given by owner-builder and appellant husband to real estate agent which was then passed on with their authority to purchasers - information played significant part in purchasers' decision to buy - purchasers sought damages for reasonable cost of remedying defects - primary judge gave judgment for purchasers - primary judge satisfied sale was a transaction in trade or commerce and that conduct complained of was in trade or commerce - falsity of representations established - mis-statements made in advertising material direct and intended positively to influence reader to buy - misleading conduct induced purchasers to enter contract - reliance established - claim in negligence not made out - held: primary judge erred in concluding that representations constituted conduct engaged in by appellant in trade or commerce - no contravention on the part of appellant of either ss18 or 30 Australian Consumer Law - appeal allowed.
    Williams (I B C)
    [From Benchmark Tuesday, 30 June 2015]
    Dijakovic v Perez [2015] NSWCA 174
    Court of Appeal of New South Wales
    Gleeson & Leeming JJA; McCallum J
    Motor accidents compensation - applicant injured in motor vehicle accident - respondent was driver - applicant did not commence legal proceedings until date more than three years after the accident - primary judge refused application for to commence proceedings - whether full and satisfactory explanation for delay - applicable monetary threshold -  s43A Motor Accidents Act 1988 -  ss3, 60, 66, 82, 85A, 89A, 89C, 90, 91 & 109 Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 held: primary judge’s reasoning on ‘full and satisfactory’ explanation issue contained material errors of fact and failed to take into account relevant matters - primary judge erred in approach to lay and medical evidence in respect of monetary threshold issue - appeal allowed - leave granted to commence proceedings.
    Dijakovic (I G)
    [From Benchmark Wednesday, 1 July 2015]
    Byrnes v Hawkesbury City Council [2015] NSWCA 173
    Court of Appeal of New South Wales
    Basten & Emmett JJA; Sackville AJA
    Negligence - findings of fact - appellant fell between driveway of premises and sealed roadway - appellant claimed Council carried out work placing loose gravel on crossover in breach of duty of care resulting in slip and fall - primary judge found appellant had failed to establish essential factual foundation for pleaded case because evidence had established neither Council nor its contractors had performed any work on crossover or deposited any material - held: no error in assessment of reliability of evidence - no failure to give sufficient weight to evidence - primary judge did not err in not accepting certain evidence - no error in use of exhibits - appeal dismissed.
    Byrnes (I)
    [From Benchmark Friday, 26 June 2015]
    Hitchens v Zurich Australia Ltd [2015] NSWSC 825
    Supreme Court of New South Wales
    White J
    Insurance - duty of disclosure - plaintiff and first defendant insurer entered into two life insurance policies - plaintiff suffered accident using power saw - insurer purportedly avoided both policies on ground of misrepresentation and non-disclosure - plaintiff claimed damages that would compensate him for amounts that would be payable under both policies - answers to proposal form questions -  held: insurer entitled to avoid policies on grounds of fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent non-disclosure - insured had fraudulently misrepresented medical history and breached duty of disclosure - no waiver by insured of duty of disclosure by not making further inquiries - judgment for insurer.
    Hitchens (I)
    [From Benchmark Wednesday, 1 July 2015]
    Ling v Pan Pac Investment Pty Limited; Ling v Wu [2015] NSWSC 850
    Supreme Court of New South Wales
    Button J
    Contract - fraud - possession - plaintiff lender sought orders against second defendant borrower arising from alleged mortgage default - first defendant company was associated with second defendant and was registered proprietor of property - borrower claimed plaintiff knew or ought to have known that borrower was seeking to borrow funds in aid of fraudulent enterprise - by end of hearing borrower did not resist repayment of loans - refined point of contention whether borrower liable to pay interest on  loans - unconscionability - whether any application of Contracts Review Act 1980 - whether interest should be disallowed on basis it was unlawful penalty - held: plaintiff behaved unconscionably against borrower with regard to interest rates with respect second to fifth loans but not first loan - interest rate on default of first loan did not offend law against penalties - on second, third, fourth and fifth loans lender entitled to rate of interest of 20% from date default - even if Court wrong about principles of unconscionability reliance on Act not permitted because of  prohibition contained in s6 - judgment for plaintiff in sum to be determined.
    Ling (B)
    [From Benchmark Wednesday, 1 July 2015]
    Housden v Boral Australian Gypsum; Boral Australian Gypsum v Victorian WorkCover Authority [2015] VSCA 162
    Court of Appeal of Victoria
    Tate, Santamaria & McLeish JJA
    Accident compensation - plasterer suffered work injury cutting sheets of plasterboard - plaintiff alleged Boral’s negligence caused injury - primary judge entered judgment for Boral - plasterer contended trial judge erred in not finding that plasterer cut pieces from plasterboard sheets by methods he described - plasterer also contended as alternative case that trial judge should have decided case on basis of all evidence, and that it should not have turned on pleadings - plasterer contended that even if trial judge was right to find cutting plasterboard on the horizontal was not his dominant method of cutting, he did find plasterer cut it that way some of the time and had erred in finding no negligence or breach of duty by Boral - held: no error in finding plasterer did not cut stack of plasterboard sheets in way he said he did - plasterer did not advance alternative case before trial judge - plasterer not permitted to run alternative case - appeal dismissed. 
    Housden (I B G)
    [From Benchmark Friday, 26 June 2015]
    Zhong v Melbourne Health [2015] VSCA 165
    Court of Appeal of Victoria
    Santamaria & McLeish JJA, Dixon AJA
    Negligence - unrepresented litigant - plaintiff claimed defendants were negligent in diagnosing him as suffering from a mental illness as result of which he was subjected to involuntary inpatient treatment at hospitals - trial judge dismissed plaintiff’s claim - ss12 & 12AA Mental Health Act 1986 - held: trial judge did not fail to permit plaintiff to make an opening statement - no bias on part of trial judge - no failure to give fair trial or give plaintiff procedural fairness - appeal dismissed.
    Zhong (I)
    [From Benchmark Monday, 29 June 2015]
    Montclare v Metlife Insurance Ltd [2015] VSC 306
    Supreme Court of Victoria
    Ginnane J
    Insurance - life insurance - plaintiff sued insurer claiming $1.1 million as life insurance benefit - life insured died by suicide on 22 January 2001- insurer admitted it entered into a contract of insurance with plaintiff on the life of deceased life-insured and that, from 10 June 1999, benefit payable under insurance was $1.1 million - however insurer contended plaintiff not entitled to payment of sum - held: life insurance cover obtained by plaintiff pursuant to contracts under which he was an insured for purposes of Insurance Contracts Act 1984 (Cth) - insurer issued insurance and was party to contracts of insurance - life-insured made fraudulent misrepresentation to insurer concerning medical history before contracts entered  - misrepresentation had effect as though it had been made by plaintiff -  insurer validly avoided contracts of insurance under s29 - proceeding dismissed.
    Montclare (I B)
    [From Benchmark Tuesday, 30 June 2015]
    Executive Summary
    Gardener v R (NSWCCA) - criminal law - robbery whilst armed with offensive weapon - carried in conveyance - appeal against sentence dismissed
    Summaries With Link
    Gardener v R [2015] NSWCCA 170
    Court of Criminal Appeal of New South Wales
    Price, R A Hulme & Davies JJ
    Criminal law - applicant sentenced for offences against ss97(1) & 154A(1)(b) Crimes Act 1900 of robbery whilst armed with offensive weapon and allowing himself to be carried in car he knew was taken without owner's consent - applicant sentenced to imprisonment for 7 years with non-parole period of 3 years 6 months, and concurrent term of 1 year 6 months with no non-parole period -  applicant sought leave to appeal on grounds concerning mental health, drug addiction and rehabilitation issues - leave granted at hearing of application to add ground asserting that  sentence was manifestly excessive - held: Court satisfied primary judge properly carried out task in assessing difficult and conflicting issues arising from serious offence and extensive criminal record on the one hand, and unfortunate, deprived and dysfunctional background together with mental health and substance abuse problems on the other - sentence not manifestly excessive  - no error in refusing to defer sentence - appeal dismissed.
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