Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This week in the High Court of Australia

The High Court will hear argument in two cases this week.
The first, commencing Tuesday, 13 August 2013 is Clark v Macourt.  In this case Clark and a company known as St George Fertility Clinic Pty Ltd carried on business providing assisted reproduction technology services in Sydney.  The appellant and St George entered into a deed in which the appellant purchased the business carried on by St George, along with various assets of the business.  Macourt was a party to the deed as guarantor of the obligations of St George.  The assets of the business that were sold to Clark included frozen sperm.  Of the 3,513 straws of sperm only 504 were useable.  Because of her inability to use the majority of the sperm supplied by St George, Clark ceased making payments due under the deed.  St George commenced proceedings for the balance of the purchase price, and Clark cross-claimed for damages for breach of contract relating to the unsuitability of the sperm sold by St George. St George (and Macourt) ultimately conceded the breach of contract.  At issue in the proceedings is how damages are to be assessed. This raises important issues as to the relevance of the regulatory regime in which assisted reproductive technology services are provided, whether damages are to be assessed by reference to the cost of replacement sperm or alternatively the value of the St George sperm had she been able to use it, and the extent to which payments made by patients mitigated her loss.
The second appeal, commencing on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 is Wingfoot Australia Partners Pty Ltd v Kocak.  The main issues in this appeal are whether or not a medical panel  giving an opinion under section 68 of the Victorian Accident Compensation Act 1985 is required to give reasons for its opinion (and if s what is the extent of that obligation), and whether or not inadequate reasons constitute a ground for quashing the opinion for error of law on the face of the record?

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