Friday, October 3, 2014

Cases to be heard next week in the High Court of Australia

Next week the High Court will hear argument in three cases.
On Wednesday, 8 October 2014 the Court will hear argument in Hunter and New England Local Health District v McKenna.  This case considers the liability of mental health practitioners for negligence in the exercise of powers of compulsory detention under the (then) Mental Health Act 1990.  On 20 July 2004 Mr Stephen Rose arranged for his friend, Mr William Pettigrove, to be admitted to the Manning Base Hospital in Taree due to concerns he had over Mr Pettigrove’s mental health.  Pursuant to the Mental Health Act 1990 (NSW), Mr Pettigrove was compulsorily detained overnight.  He was however released into Mr Rose’s care the next day following a subsequent psychiatric assessment by the Hospital’s psychiatrist, Dr Coombes.  Mr Pettigrove was released to enable both men to travel by car to Victoria which is where Mr Pettigrove's mother lived.  After stopping en route near Dubbo, Mr Pettigrove strangled Mr Rose to death.  Mr Pettigrove later told police that he had acted on a revenge impulse, apparently believing that Mr Rose had killed him in a past life.  Mr Pettigrove himself subsequently committed suicide.  The issues for detemrinaiton by the High Court are numerous, and include whether or not the Hospital owed a duty of care to Mr Rose and/or Mr Rose’s family, the operation of section 5O of the Civil Liabiltiy Act 2002 (relating to the standard of care owed by professionals) and sections 43 and 43A of that Act (relating to the liability of public authorities for breach of statutory duty and failure to exercise special statutory powers).
On Thursday, 9 October 2014 the Court will hear argument in Minister for Immigration and Border Protection v SZSCA.  In that case the respondent is an Afghani citizen of Hazara ethnicity who claimed to fear persecution due to his membership of a particular social group, namely “truck drivers who transported goods for foreign agencies”.  He also claimed to fear persecution based upon political opinions imputed to him by the Taliban.  He unsuccessfully applied for a protection visa.  On appeal to the RRT, the RRT accepted the plausibility of the threats made against him, but concluded that he could avoid persecution if he returned to Kabul and changed his occupation.  Successive appeals to the Federal Court resulted in a determination that the RRT had erred in limiting itself to what the respondent could reasonably do upon return to Afghanistan rather than what he would do. 

On Friday, 10 October 2014 the Court will hear argument in Argos Pty Ltd v Simon Corbell, Minister for the 
Environment and Sustainable Development.  This case considers the extent to which mere economic interests are sufficient to ground standing as a “person aggrieved” under section 5(1) of the Administrative Decision (Judicial Review) Act 1989.  In essence, the appellants were the operators of IGS Supermarkets in two suburbs of Canberra.  The second and third respondents sought and were granted planning approval for a shopping centre development (including a supermarket) in a third Canberra suburb.  The appellants sought to challenge that approval, claiming to be “persons aggrieved” by reason of the impact upon their trading if the shopping centre development went ahead.

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