New South Wales judges are under scrutiny over inappropriate behaviour in the courtroom. Magistrate Pat O’Shane caused a furore on 1 February 2006 when she walked out of court after launching a verbal assault on a man who was appearing before the court in relation to an Apprehended Violence Order. O’Shane told Graham Wardell that he could “go to another court” after his barrister raised concerns that he might not receive a fair hearing. Wardell is a former police officer, and O’Shane had questioned his credibility when he had given evidence in her court in 1995. Chief Justice Jim Spigelman recently noted that Australians are increasingly becoming ill-mannered.
The Daily Telegraph
Now it’s up to $241m
The Leighton-Kumagai joint venture has increased the value of its legal claims against the Western Australian (WA) Government. The main contractor for the Perth-Mandurah railway construction project now wants a further $A191m on top of the previous figure of $A50m from the WA Public Transport Authority (PTA). Delays and cost over-runs are creating a headache for the companies involved, with the value of the tunnel section under the Perth CBD already written down to nil. WA Planning & Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan has reiterated the Government is convinced all additional costs are to be borne by the contractors under the terms of the fixed-price deal struck with the PTA.
The West Australian
Cricket Aust aims to hit racism for six
Indian Solicitor General Goolam Vahanvati will travel to Australia to investigate claims of racism in cricket. The International Cricket Council has heard complaints from Sri Lankan and South African players, who claim that they were subjected to racist taunts from Australian spectators. Cricket Australia says it will speak to Australian governments to see if racial abuse laws for spectators can be introduced.
The New South Wales Supreme Court heard a dispute between siblings over a $A1 million-plus superannuation fund. The case centred on control over a 40-year-old family fund following the death of the parents who established the fund. The case highlights the injustices that can potentially occur if deceased estates are not managed properly. It draws attention to the need for small super funds to devise succession plans covering the death of the trustee, and for Australian fund members to lodge binding death benefit nominations with their funds.
ACCC unleashes salvo at Toll
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has responded to Toll’s criticism of delays in launching legal action against it. The transport and logistics group has complained about the fact the ACCC is yet to commence proceedings against it in the Federal Court of Australia over its $A4.6bn takeover bid for Patrick. ACCC chair, Graeme Samuel, said its lawyers are still trying to confirm whether Toll intends to proceed with the takeover in the event it receives a favourable decision from the Federal Court. Legal action would be a waste of resources if Toll no longer intends to proceed with the offer, Samuel noted. Shares in Toll fell $A0.24 to $A11.20 on 2 February 2006, while Patrick shares declined $A0.05 to $A6.61.
Elders in court ‘a more just system’
A Western Australian law discussion paper recommends the establishment of Aboriginal courts. The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia has made a study of Customary Law and made 93 recommendations in the areas of criminal justice, family violence, community governance, and police and prisons. A major recommendation is a trial of Aboriginal courts. In the eastern states, the courts have reduced the rate of reoffending, and their use is supported by the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia.