Monday, June 4, 2012

This week in the High Court of Australia

The High Court of Australia is sitting in Brisbane this week.
The first case in the list to be heard (according to the High Court’s case summary) today and tomorrow is in Commissioner of Taxation v Qantas Airways LtdThis case raises the question of what is the taxable supply, if any, where a passenger has paid the fare for a flight but either cancels the reservation or does not present themselves for carriage, and no refund is available or claimed: is it the reservation or the failed flight?
The second case (which according to the High Court’s case summary is to be heard on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, but which according to newspaper reports will commence on Tuesday) is Patel v The Queen.  This appeal involves the notorious surgeon Dr Jayant Patel who was convicted of manslaughter following the death of three patients, and of inflicting grievous bodily harm on a fourth, as a result of surgery performed by Dr Patel in 2003 and 2004.  The case raises the issue of whether a surgeon could be guilty of manslaughter by criminal negligence only where there is negligence in the performance of a surgical procedure, or whether it also applies where the surgery is performed competently but the decision to operate or recommend surgery to a patient was negligent.

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