ON 29 April 1993, the High Court of Australia delivered Walton v Gardiner  HCA 77; (1993) 177 CLR 378; (1993) 112 ALR 289; (1993) 67 ALJR 485 (29 April 1993).
Stay of proceedings – Inherent jurisdiction – Abuse of process – Medical practitioners – Complaints
The NSW Court of Appeal had granted a stay of proceedings concerning new complaints made against three medical practitioners regarding their treatment of patients at the Chelmsford Private Hospital in Sydney on the grounds that the new complaints raised issues overlapping with earlier complaints such that they were so unfairly and unjustly oppressive that they constituted an abuse of process.
The High Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s decision, holding that the court has the inherent power or jurisdiction to stay proceedings as an abuse of process if the continuation of the proceedings would involve unacceptable injustice or unfairness. The court also held that the grounds upon which such a stay is granted is not limited to matters where the proceedings are brought for an improper purpose or where there is no possibility of a fair hearing.
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