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Judgment in Matsoukatidou v Yarra Ranges Council
28 February 2017
Justice Bell today handed down judgment in Matsoukatidou v Yarra Ranges. The judgment concerns the rights of self-represented litigants to a fair trial and to equality.
Maria and Betty Matsoukatidou appeared self-represented in the Magistrates’ Court, and on appeal at the County Court of Victoria in relation to charges arising out of their failure to secure and demolish their home after an arsonist burnt it down. Under O 56 of the Supreme Court (General Civil Procedure) Rules 2005 (Vic), Maria and Betty sought judicial review in the Supreme Court of the orders of the judge, contending that in the way the hearing was conducted, the judge failed to ensure the Maria's human rights to equality under s 8(3), and both Maria and Betty's rights to a fair hearing under s 24(1) of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic).
In relation to the procedures followed in hearings, courts and tribunals must apply the right to equality in s 8(3) and the right to a fair hearing in s 24(1) of the Charter. This obligation applies in relation to self-represented parties generally and it applied specifically in relation to the hearing of the applications made by Maria and Betty in the County Court for reinstatement of their appeals. Justice Bell found that they had established that the judge hearing those applications did not apply those rights.
The Supreme Court made orders in the nature of judicial review that the orders of the judge of the Count Court dismissing Maria and Betty’s applications be set aside, and remitted their applications for reinstatement of their appeals to be reheard and determined according to law by a different judge.
NOTE: This summary is necessarily incomplete. It is not intended as a substitute for the Court’s reasons or to be used in any later consideration of the Court’s reasons. The only authoritative pronouncement of the Court’s reasons and conclusions is that contained in the published reasons for judgment.