Monday, September 30, 2013

This week in the High Court of Australia

There are three cases listed for hearing this week in the High Court of Australia.
On Wednesday, 2 October 2013 the Court will hear argument in BCM v The Queen.  In substance this is an appeal in respect of a verdict alleged to have been unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence.  However, it raises an important question of law, namely, the adequacy of the reasons given by the Queensland Court of Appeal in finding that the verdict was not unreasonable, and the obligation of an intermediate appellate court to explain its own independent assessment of the evidence.  In this case, in which the appellant was charged with three counts of indecent assault against his granddaughter and in which there were numerous inconsistencies in the versions of events given by her to her mother and to police, the Queensland Court of Appeal discussed the evidence in only 11 paragraphs.
On Thursday the Court will hear argument in Daly v Thiering.  This case raises a question of statutory construction of considerable financial interest to the compulsory third party motor vehicle insurance industry in NSW, but is otherwise of no apparent general importance.  Mr Thiering was rendered a tetraplegic in a motor vehicle accident caused by Mr Daley.  Although a participant in the Lifetime Care and Support Scheme, his mother provides a significant amount of Mr Thiering’s care.  She does this gratuitously and without compensation from the Lifetime Care and Support Authority even though the services she is providing, if not provided by her, would be provided commercially at the expense of the Authority.  At common law Mr Thiering would be entitled to recover from Mr Daley the value of the services provided by his mother, even though they are provided gratuitously. The issue in the High Court is whether on the proper construction of section 130A of the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 Mr Thiering continues to be entitled to recover damages against Mr Daley (and his third party insurer) for the past attendant care services provided to him, gratuitously, by his mother.
On Friday the Court will hear argument in Expense Reduction Analysts Group Pty Ltd v Armstrong Strategic Management and Marketing Pty Ltd.  In this case the Court will consider the circumstances in which a claim for legal professional privilege over a document may be waived where the document has been provided to another party in the course of discovery, as a result of a mistake or as a result of inadvertence.  It will also consider whether the recipient of such a document may be restrained from using the document, notwithstanding the waiver.