Legal News & Views

  • Royal Commission into Lawyer X findings. And Family Court's Lighthouse Project new approach to family violence

    The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants concludes that the behaviour of both the Victoria Police and Nicola Gobbo, who led a double life of both barrister and informant, may affect over 1,000 court findings. Among the 111 recommendations is the appointment of a special investigator, as well as a suitably qualified person to investigate a further eleven people who were human sources with potential legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege. And, in a world first, the Family Court are launching The Lighthouse Project, a pilot scheme that links support services to families experiencing violence.

  • How well did ADF Legal Officers in Afghanistan perform their task? And the right to silence a focus in High Court decision

    Justice Brereton’s report into alleged war crimes by our special forces in Afghanistan is triggering a lot of discussion around failures in lines of accountability. It raises questions about on-the-ground Australian Defence Force lawyers, the very people who are meant to be experts in the Laws of War. And the Right to Silence. The High Court of Australia quashes a conviction and orders a retrial because the trial judge made comments to the jury about the accused’s decision not to give evidence.

  • Recycled print cartridges don't infringe patents says High Court. Also, reforms to responsible lending laws

    The High Court of Australia rules that a company that buys used empty computer print cartridges, refills them with ink and sells them to consumers is not infringing the patents of the original manufacturer. Protecting Consumers vs Streamlining Access to Credit. With the aim of getting the economy moving and consumers spending, the government hopes to loosen 'responsible lending laws' contained in the National Consumer Credit Protection Act.

  • Trump disputes election loss in court, Australian challenges to COVID-19 restrictions and First Nations art from Victorian prisons

    Can Donald Trump challenge his election loss in the courts? Three challenges to COVID-19 restrictions thrown out by Australian courts. And a new exhibition Future Dreaming...visions of the future showcases art works from First Nations prisoners in Victoria.

  • NT police officer to stand trial for shooting death. And the COVID legal responses helping businesses from going under

    An Alice Springs local court judge has ruled that Constable Zachary Rolfe will face a murder trial for the death of 19 year old Yuendumu man, Kumanjayi Walker. In a separate development, a NSW coroner referred a death involving corrective services officers to prosecutors. And with restrictions easing and some borders opening up, what are the legal and financial challenges ahead for business?

  • Landmark Victorian report on image based sexual abuse

    The Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council has released an in-depth study into how non-consensual recording or distribution of sexual images or videos offences are handled by Victorian courts. It's the first report of its kind in Australia. What's surprising is the connection between prosecutions and domestic violence.

  • South Australia reduces sentencing discounts. Also, direct democracy in NZ and the US

    All around Australia if an accused pleads guilty to a criminal offence, they become eligible for a reduction in prison time. But just how big an incentive should we give an accused if it’s a serious crime? The South Australian parliament has passed legislation reducing the maximum possible prison discount from 40% down to 25%. And during NZ's national election, our Kiwi cousins voted on two referendum questions. One was a private members bill which was literally pulled out of the NZ Democracy Biscuit Tin. Meanwhile in upcoming presidential election US citizens will also vote on a staggering number of state-based ballot propositions. In Colorado voters will be asked whether grey wolves should be re-introduced into the northern Rockies.

  • Appointing judges in the US and Australia and our consumer watchdog at work

    Over the next few months two justices of the High Court of Australia will retire. What is the process for choosing their replacements? How different will our process be from what’s taking place right now in the USA with the US Supreme Court vacancy? Also, the Federal Court has just fined price comparison site iSelect $8.5 million after it admitted to misleading and deceptive conduct. This comes just few days after the court imposed a $7 million fine on ticket reseller Viagogo. But these two wins, follow two courtroom losses for the ACCC, both involving products spruiking their green credentials, flushable toilet wipes and disposable picnic ware.

  • Elder abuse and COVID-19

    There have been over 660 COVID-19 deaths in residential aged-care facilities. The Royal Commission into Aged Care special report on COVID 19 has made a number of recommendations aimed at improving the safety and quality of life of residents. The pandemic has also increased the vulnerabilities of elderly where-ever they live. Physical, financial and emotional abuse as well as neglect and chemical restraint have all made worse.

  • Claremont murder trial, judges and apprehended bias and Victorian children on remand who never receive a custodial sentence

    The Perth trial of Bradley Robert Edwards, found guilty of two of the three Claremont murders. How should we deal with judges who are biased or incompetent? And, a new Victorian report finds that two thirds of children who spend time on remand never receive a custodial sentence.

  • VALE Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. High Court of Australia rules that an off-duty soldier can face trial in military court

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death has ignited raw and intense political wrangling over how to fill her seat on the US Supreme Court. We reflect on her legacy and the political manoeuvering. And, in a case involving a soldier known only as Private R, the High Court of Australia has determined that a trial for ADF members can be held in the military justice system even when the alleged crime was not connected to military service.

  • Bill to ban mobile phones in immigration detention. And Supreme Court win for remote NT residents over poor housing

    The House of Representatives recently passed a bill which will strip mobile phones from people in immigration detention. Will the bill pass the Senate? What does this mean for asylum seekers?     And residents of the remote Northern Territory community of Santa Teresa have just won a big legal victory over NT Housing. One elderly representative litigant Enid, whose house didn’t have a back door for 6 years has just had her compensation increase from $100 to $10,000, a win that will have big implications for other communities.

  • Judicial inquiry into COVID-19 hotel quarantine in Victoria

    The vast majority of COVID-19 cases in Victoria’s second wave of the pandemic are traceable to breaches of hotel quarantine. What went so horribly wrong? A judicial inquiry is trying to find out.   So far, a lot of the evidence has focussed on how the roles and responsibilities of private security guards fitted with those of the police, government authorised officers, health providers and hotel staff.

  • Clive Palmer v WA, gag laws on sexual assault survivors in Victoria and considering personality disorders when sentencing

    How might Clive Palmer challenge WA legislation designed to thwart his legal action against the WA government? Also, in Victoria, sexual assault survivors now require a court order before they can speak publicly about their experience. Following protests the law is currently under 'urgent' review. And the Victorian Court of Appeal has just handed down a landmark decision involving 19 year old Daylia Brown. It allows sentencing judges to consider an offender’s personality disorder when calculating an appropriate prison term.

  • VP Candidate Kamala Harris, Australian police accountability and body cams

    What is Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris' record on law and justice issues? A review of the legal framework around Police Body Worn Video Cameras has just been released by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. Who decides what gets recorded? And what factors are considered when a complaint is made against Victoria Police?

  • Tackling modern slavery

    In the battle to secure PPE to protect ourselves from COVID 19 are we turning a blind eye to forced labour? Is our federal Modern Slavery Act up to the task and why has the separate Modern Slavery legislation in NSW been put on ice? Also, the first criminal conviction for keeping slaves in New Zealand's modern history.

  • Singapore introduces COVID 19 electronic bracelets. And media freedom in Malaysia

    One in four Victorians supposed to be self-isolating for COVID 19 were found to be not at home.  Starting today Singapore will allow some new arrivals to wear an electronic bracelet, instead of quarantining in a state-run facility. Could this be a more effective way to monitor those who should be staying at home?. And in Kuala Lumpur, the offices of Al Jazeera were raided by police because the government objected to the Australian journalist's negative report on the treatment of undocumented foreign workers. It’s just the latest in a series of government responses to criticism that have many concerned for media freedom in Malaysia.

  • What is a 'state of disaster'? And Sole Practitioner loses sexual harassment appeal

    Victoria has just been declared a state of disaster. What powers does this confer? And the Full Federal Court has unanimously upheld an earlier decision of the Federal Circuit Court which awarded $170,000 in damages to Catherine Hill. Ms Hill was a junior lawyer who was sexually harassed by her employer, Owen Hughes, a Sole Practitioner based in northern NSW.

  • Queensland parliament to vote on legalising Torres Strait Island childrearing practices

    Before the next Queensland election, state parliament will vote on The Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child Rearing Practice Bill. If passed, the legislation will officially recognise the adoption practices of Torres Strait Islanders. This ground breaking bill was introduced into the Queensland Parliament by the first Torres Strait Islander member of parliament, Cynthia Lui.

  • Family violence killing found to be a workplace death

    The NSW Court of Appeal found that the killing of a woman by her de facto husband at home was a workplace death and her family are entitled to workers compensation. This decision was handed down in March, just at the time when millions began working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So what are the implications of this case for workers and their employers? If you or anyone you know is affected by family violence there is help available at 1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732 Lifeline on 13 11 14 safe steps on 1800 015 188 Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978