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Developments in case law

25 January 2017

More than 1,000 judgments of the Supreme Court of Victoria were published online during 2016. Of those, 725 were judgments and rulings in civil and criminal matters heard in the Trial Division; 328 were decisions handed down in the Court of Appeal.

Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

In Certain Children by their Litigation Guardian Sister Marie Brigid Arthur v Minister for Families and Children [2016] VSC 796(External link), the Court held that two Orders in Council made under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) concerning the establishment of a youth justice centre at the Grevillea unit of the Barwon Prison were unlawful under s 38(1) of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) as the defendants failed to give proper consideration to the human rights of the plaintiffs.

Commercial Court

In Babcock & Brown DIF III Global Co-Investment Fund, LP & Anor v Babcock & Brown International Pty Limited & Ors [2016] VSC 623(External link), the Court handed down a decision concerning the consequences which flow from breach of an exclusive jurisdiction clause in a commercial agreement. In his decision the judge distinguished the leading authority and exercised the Court’s discretion to refuse a stay of proceedings. This interesting case also deals with the application of New York law.

Common law

The Court approved settlement of a group proceeding in Ramsay v AusNet Electricity Services Pty Ltd [2016] VSC 725(External link). The lead plaintiff claimed damages for losses suffered as a result of a bushfire which started near Jack River in Gippsland on 9 February 2014. Alleging the bushfire started as a result of contact between a powerline, owned and operated by the AusNet, and pine trees that had grown in close proximity to the powerline. The Court approved the settlement agreed to by the parties of $10,500,000.

In Swan v Uecker [2016] VSC 313(External link) the Court found that a tenant had breached the terms of a lease by sub-leasing the property to a third party via the AirBnB website. Accordingly, his Honour granted an order of possession to the landlord.

The Court considered the operation of s.135BB of the Accident Compensation Act 1985 (Vic) – a provision which facilitates the bringing of claims for damages by workers suffering from an asbestos related condition - in Perakis v Secretary to the Department of Transport [2016] VSC 320(External link).


Several high profile criminal trials were also conducted including The Queen v Mohamed [2016] VSC 581 (External link). A Supreme Court jury convicted Amin Mohamed of three charges of preparing to enter a foreign state to engage in hostile activities and he was subsequently sentenced to five and a half years’ jail.

In The Queen v Besim [2016] VSC 537(External link), Sevdet Besim was sentenced to 10 years’ prison over the planned Anzac Day terrorist attack.

Court of Appeal

In Attorney-General v Glass (in her capacity as Ombudsman) [2016] VSCA 306(External link), the Court of Appeal granted the Attorney-General leave to appeal but dismissed the appeal against a decision that the Ombudsman for Victoria, Deborah Glass, has jurisdiction under the Ombudsman Act 1973 (Vic) to investigate allegations that Australian Labor Party (‘ALP’) members of the Victorian Parliament misused staff budget entitlements, noting that the trial judge made no error in his analysis.

The Court examined the applicable test for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in Metricon Homes v Softley [2016] VSCA 60(External link).

2016 was a busy year for the Court.

Read recent judgment summaries on the Court’s website.

Access 2016 judgments and sentences on Austlii:

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