Taylor v Taylor [1979] HCA 38

ON 22 AUGUST 1979, the High Court of Australia delivered Taylor v Taylor [1979] HCA 38; (1979) 143 CLR 1 (22 August 1979).


A husband failed to appear in family law proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW due to a misunderstanding on the part of his legal representative. In his absence, the court made orders dissolving the marriage and transferring the matrimonial home to the wife. Once the husband became aware of the orders, he made an application to the newly established Family Court seeking variation of the Supreme Court orders to the effect that the matrimonial home be sold and the net proceeds be divided between he and his wife. On the day of the application, the wife’s legal representatives mistakenly attended the Family Law Division of the Supreme Court rather than the Family Court. In the absence of the wife, orders were made by Hogan J of the Family Court in accordance with the relief sought by the husband. The wife then appealed to the Full Court of the Family Court, who allowed the appeal ruling that Hogan J did not possess the statutory power to amend the Supreme Court’s orders.

The High Court allowed an appeal, ordering that the previous orders be set aside and that there be a re-hearing of the matter.

The High Court held that a court has an inherent jurisdiction to set aside orders where it is in the interests of justice to do so.


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