Friday, August 2, 2013

Next week in the High Court of Australia

The High Court of Australia returns from its July recess next week, and will hear argument in 5 appeals.
The first two appeals, to be heard on 6 August 2013, are Munda v State of Western Australia and Bugmy v The Queen. In addition to raising general issues as to the proper approach to be taken in determining a Crown appeal against sentence on the grounds of “manifest inadequacy”.  The appeals also give rise to more specific issues relating to the sentencing of aboriginal offenders, and the relevance of the social deprivation and systemic alcohol abuse and other forms of disadvantage experienced by aboriginal offenders.
On 7 August 2013 the Court will hear argument in Comcare v PVYW.  This appeal raises a relatively narrow question of the meaning of the phrase “in the course of employment” commonly used in workers compensation statutes.  The case itself has gained a degree of notoriety because of the particular facts of the case. The worker was required to travel to a country town by her employer.  She arranged to meet a male friend for dinner, following which they returned to her hotel room and had sex.  In doing so, a light fitting mounted above the bed was pulled from the wall and fell on the worker’s face, resulting in physical and psychological injury. The question for determination is whether or not her injury arose in the course of her employment.
On 8 August 2013 the Court will hear argument in Diehm v Director of Public Prosecutions (Nauru).  This is an appeal from the Supreme Court of Nauru in which the appellants challenge their convictions in relation to a sexual assault on the grounds that the failure by the prosecution to call certain witnesses (and the trial judge’s failure to call those witnesses).
On 9 August 2013 the Court will hear argument in Willmott Growers Group Inc v Willmott Forests Ltd.  In this case the Court will consider the long-standing power of a liquidator to disclaim onerous property.  The liquidators of the respondent company seek to disclaim leases issued by it in favour of members of various forestry investment schemes.  This is to enable land owned by the respondent company (its only significant asset) to be sold, which commercially can only occur if the land is unencumbered by the leases.  The appellant growers wish to continue to conduct the forestry investment schemes on the land, having already invested between 18 and 23 years in the schemes.

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