Category Archives: Landmark cases

Sharp v Stephen Guinery t/as Port Kembla Hotel and Port Kembla RSL Club [2001] NSWSC 336 | 23 April 2001

ON THIS DAY in 2001, Justice Peter McClellan of the Supreme Court of NSW delivered Sharp v Stephen Guinery t/as Port Kembla Hotel and Port Kembla Rsl Club [2001] NSWSC 336 (23 April 2001).

“Judgment on application for verdict by direction

negligence action

whether plaintiff precluded from putting a case in negligence to jury

whether evidence of breach of duty

whether evidence which could establish that the taking of any step would have eliminated risk of plaintiff’s injury

whether evidence before the jury that the risk of injury from tobacco smoke was reasonably foreseeable

whether rule in Browne v Dunn has application

s 23(4), s 42(1) Factories, Shops & Industries Act 1962″

Sharp had sought damages from her employer alleging that her exposure to tobacco smoke as a barmaid resulted in her suffering from laryngeal cancer.  The case was heard before a jury.

The judgment led to jury directions which resulted in a finding that the cancer was caused, or materially contributed to, by the employer’s negligence.

On 2 May 2001, the jury awarded Sharp damages of $466,000 plus costs.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/nsw/NSWSC/2001/336.html

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Viro v R [1978] HCA 9 | 11 April 1978

ON THIS DAY in 1978, the High Court of Australia delivered Viro v R [1978] HCA 9; (1978) 141 CLR 88 (11 April 1978).

The High Court held that it is no longer bound by decisions of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.  The court is “pre-eminently equipped to decide what is the law for Australia”.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1978/9.html

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Mallet v Mallet [1984] HCA 21 | 10 April 1984

ON THIS DAY in 1984, the High Court of Australia delivered Mallet v Mallet [1984] HCA 21; (1984) 156 CLR 605 (10 April 1984).

Equality had long been the starting point when dividing matrimonial property on divorce.  The High Court in this case held that there is not to be a presumption of equality and that each case is to be determined upon a consideration of it’s particular circumstances.

Section 79(4) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) requires consideration of the financial contributions, non-financial contributions and parental and/or homemaker services.

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Hawkins v Clayton [1988] HCA 15 | 8 April 1988

ON 8 APRIL 1988, the High Court of Australia delivered Hawkins v Clayton [1988] HCA 15; (1988) 164 CLR 539 (8 April 1988).

A firm of solicitors was held to be negligent by failing to take reasonable steps to locate an executor (a non-client) following the death of a testatrix (a client whose will they prepared and retained for safe keeping) for some six years after the testatrix’s death.  The solicitors were held to be liable to pay damages for the loss suffered by the executor (who was also a residuary beneficiary) in not being able to manage the estate during the period of delay.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1988/15.html

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Burnie Port Authority v General Jones Pty Ltd [1994] HCA 13 | 24 MARCH 1994

ON THIS DAY IN 1994, the High Court of Australia delivered Burnie Port Authority v General Jones Pty Ltd [1994] HCA 13; (1994) 179 CLR 520; (1994) Aust Torts Reports 81-264; (1994) 120 ALR 42; (1994) 68 ALJR 331 (24 March 1994). The rule in Rylands v Fletcher was abolished so that the determination of liability for harm caused by dangerous substances or activities on premises comes under the principles of negligence rather than strict liability.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1994/13.html

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McKinney v R [1991] HCA 6 | 22 March 1991

ON THIS DAY IN 1991, the High Court of Australia delivered McKinney v R [1991] HCA 6; (1991) 171 CLR 468 (22 March 1991).

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/1991/6.html

A trial judge must warn a jury of the dangers of convicting the accused on the basis of their alleged admissions whilst in custody.

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Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v Japan: New Zealand intervening) | International Court of Justice

ON 31 MARCH 2014, the International Court of Justice found Japan’s Antarctic whaling program to be not in accordance with the relevant international convention.

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