ON 26 JUNE 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States delivered Obergefell v Hodges, Director General of Department of Health 576 US (2015).
The petitioners successfully challenged the marriage laws in the US States of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee which, like Australia, defined marriage as being between the union of one man and one woman. The US Supreme Court held that Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution required the States to licence the marriage of persons of the same sex whose marriage was lawfully licensed and performed in other States.
A court has the discretion to admit or exclude evidence that is improperly or illegally obtained. In exercising its discretion, the court is to weigh up the competing public requirements of (a) bringing to criminal wrongdoing to conviction and (b) protecting all individuals from unfair and unlawful treatment. The onus is on the accused to prove misconduct and justify the exclusion.
ON 10 JUNE 2015, the High Court of Australia delivered Isbester v Knox City Council  HCA 20 (10 June 2015).
‘Administrative law – Natural justice – Bias – Reasonable apprehension of bias – Incompatibility of roles – Where respondent made order under s 84P(e) of Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic) for destruction of appellant’s dog – Where there was panel hearing and deliberation prior to decision being made – Where member of panel had been involved in prosecuting related criminal charges – Whether fair-minded observer might reasonably apprehend that panel member might not bring impartial mind to decision – Whether interest of panel member might affect decision-making of others on panel.
Words and phrases – “conflict of interest”, “incompatibility of roles”.
The appellant had been convicted by a Victorian Magistrate on a charge that her Staffordshire terror had attacked and seriously injured another person. The decision making committee of Knox City Council (“the Panel”) subsequently determined that the dog be destroyed.
The appellant unsuccessfully sought judicial review of the decision in the Supreme Court of Victoria and the Victorian Court of Appeal.
The appellant was successful on appeal to the High Court of Australia. The High Court held that the decision making process of the respondent’s Panel was contrary to natural justice because a fair minded observer might think that a person who took part in the prosecution of the dog owner might not bring an impartial mind to the decision to destroy the dog because of their role in the prosecution.
ON THIS DAY in 2004, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 was amended to make it an offence to dock the tail of a dog unless done by a registered veterinary surgeon and in the interests of the dogs welfare.
A person is negligent if they fail to prevent a real risk that is reasonably foreseeable. A real risk is one in the mind of a reasonable person “which he would not brush aside as far-fetched”. This does not depend on the actual risk of occurrence.