On Friday, 15 March 2013 the Melbourne panels of the High Court were feeling very generous and granted special leave to appeal in four cases. There were no grants of special leave to appeal from the Sydney panels.
The first case is Legal Services Board v Gillespie-Jones, in which a barrister successfully claimed against the Fidelity Fund in respect of moneys that had been paid by a client to a solicitor on trust for the purposes of paying the barrister’s fees, but which moneys were misappropriated by the solicitor.
The second case is a series of appeals in Pantazis v The Queen; Issa v The Queen and Elias v The Queen in which the High Court will be called upon to consider the common law principle that in sentencing a person for a State criminal offence a sentencing judge is required to take into account the less punitive regime of another State offence, or a Commonwealth offence, that was a more appropriate offence than the offence upon which the accused fell to be sentenced.
The third case is Nguyen v The Queen. In this case two co-accused had been convicted of murder and attempted murder, either on the basis of acting in concert with the killer, on the basis of extended common purpose, or on the basis that they aided and abetted the killer. The Victorian Court of Appeal quashed the convictions and entered verdicts of acquittal in respect of one of the co-accused, on the grounds that a reasonable jury properly directed must have entertained a doubt as to the guilt of that co-accused of murder or an alternative charge of manslaughter (and the associated attempt) . The other co-accused now appeals against the dismissal of his appeal, and raises the question of whether or not a viable alternative verdict of manslaughter based on acting in concert or extended common purpose ought to have been left to the jury.
Finally, the High Court has granted special leave to appeal in the long-running Bell Litigation in which a syndicate of banks was ordered to pay more than $2 billion to the liquidator of Alan Bond’s failed Bell Group, which collapsed in 1991.