On 18 October 2023, by a 4:3 majority the High Court of Australia declared invalid a tax imposed by Victoria on the use of electric and hybrid vehicles. The tax imposed was held to be a “duty of excise” within the meaning of section 90 of the Constitution, and therefore a tax only able to be imposed by the Commonwealth.
Category: Public Law
In its first decision on parliamentary privilege in some years, the High Court in Crime and Corruption Commission v Carne  HCA 28 has clarified the scope of the privilege as it applies to documents emanating from outside Parliament.
On 2 August 2023, the High Court of Australia unanimously allowed an appeal from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and ruled that the meaning of the “value of the benefit” obtained from conduct that constitutes foreign bribery is the gross benefit (as opposed to the net benefit) obtained from the offending.
The Crimes Amendment (Combatting Foreign Bribery) Bill 2023 proposes to strengthen Australia’s foreign bribery laws principally by introducing a new absolute liability offence against bodies corporate for “failing to prevent bribery of a foreign public official” by an “associate”.
In Nathanson v Minister for Home Affairs  HCA 26, the High Court provided much-needed clarification on the threshold of materiality for the establishment of jurisdictional error.
The Supreme Court of Victoria recently considered whether a parliamentary media accreditation decision was subject to judicial review. In deciding that it was not, the Court relied on the parliamentary privilege to control access to the parliamentary precincts, which is within the “exclusive cognisance” of Parliament.
The Supreme Court has overturned a controversial award of damages by VCAT in a sexual harassment matter. In doing so, it has provided guidance on whether an award’s ‘manifest inadequacy’ is a ‘question of law’ and therefore, a basis for appeal, under s 148(1) of the VCAT Act.
When can a statutory authority owe a common law duty of care? What are the key considerations? The High Court’s decision in Electricity Networks Corporation v Herridge Parties addresses these issues and is summarised in this note.
Is the fact that a party is a corporation incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) sufficient to bring a proceeding within federal jurisdiction, and thus to deprive VCAT of jurisdiction to hear that matter?
Is there a “minimum requirement” of procedural fairness applicable to all proceedings in a Chapter III court? No, according to a narrow majority of the High Court in SDCV v Director-General of Security  HCA 32.
Piercing the political veil: the future justiciability of pre-selection disputes in Victoria and NSW
In February, the Victorian Court of Appeal held that federal pre-selection disputes within political parties are justiciable; in March, the High Court refused special leave; and in April the NSW Court of Appeal expressly rejected the Victorian Court of Appeal position.
If you are not a party to a contract, but you are affected by its terms, can you go to court to get a declaration about what the contract means?
Citta v Cawthorn concerns the limits on jurisdiction of State tribunals (like VCAT) which are not courts of a State. The case explains the scope of matters arising under the Constitution or under a Commonwealth law. These questions are also relevant when determining whether federal courts have jurisdiction.
The Federal Court’s decision in Commissioner of Taxation v PricewaterhouseCoopers  FCA 278 considers whether the doctrine of legal professional privilege will apply to communications involving multi-disciplinary partnerships with legal and non-legal partners.