QUESTION 1: ‘LEGAL JARGON’ (5 MARKS IN TOTAL: 500 WORDS)
Using a business law text, a legal dictionary or other research tools discover the meaning of and write short notes explaining each of the following items of Australian ‘legal jargon’:
odelegated legislation othe rule of law
ocivil jurisdiction oplaintiff
ocriminal jurisdiction oratio decidendi
oobiter dicta odefendant
othe Crown oterra nullius
QUESTION 2: AUSTRALIAN COURT HIERARCHIES, THE DOCTRINE OF PRECEDENT AND THE RULE OF LAW (2 MARKS PER QUESTION: 800 WORDS)
(i) What is ‘the doctrine of precedent’ and how is it applied in the Australian courts?
(ii) Is it possible to appeal ‘as of right’ to the High Court of Australia from a decision of the Federal Court and/or one of the State Supreme Courts? Why?
(iii) Using a business law text, a legal dictionary or other research tools, discover and list, for each of the following cases, (a) all available citation details for that case, beginning with its ‘authorised report’ citation (where available) and (b) the details of which court (and which judge or judges) decided each case:
o Mabo v State of Queensland (No 2)
o Donoghue v Stevenson
o Comcare v Thompson
o Bermingham v Corrective Services Commission of New South Wales
o Brightwater Care Group (Inc) v Rossiter
(iv) According to the doctrine of precedent, are any (and if so which) of the above listed cases potentially binding on a single judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia? (Give full reasons for your answer).
(v) The ‘Rule of Law’ is a fundamentally important legal concept. Define the concept and explain why it is important in the context of the Australian legal and political system.
QUESTION 3: A ‘STATUTORY INTERPRETATION’ CASE STUDY
(10 MARKS IN TOTAL: 1,200 WORDS)
[NB: THE STATUTORY PROVISION REFERRED TO IN THE QUESTION BELOW DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST. SO PLEASE DO NOT WASTE TIME TRYING TO LOOK IT UP.]
In 2013 Simon was studying law at UWA. He found the course very difficult and, as the end of year exams were approaching, he worried constantly about failing. To relieve his stress he went out drinking one Saturday night in late September with two of his friends from the Law School. They all had rather a lot to drink. As a result they became quite loud and aggressive towards the other patrons of the bar in East Perth where they were drinking, so much so that the police were called. The police asked Simon and his friends to leave the bar and, when they refused to do so, a constable attempted to arrest Simon. Simon violently resisted and a fight broke out, in the course of which the constable was injured when Simon bit him on the nose, wounding the officer so severely that he needed extensive plastic surgery. Simon was subsequently charged with a felony offence under s. 6 of the Assaults Against Public Officers Act 2012 (WA). That section provides as follows:
“Any person who unlawfully and maliciously shoots at any policeman or other public officer, or who, by drawing a trigger, or in any other manner, attempts to discharge any kind of loaded arms at any such officer, or who unlawfully and maliciously stabs, cuts, or wounds any such officer with intent, in any of the cases aforesaid to maim, disfigure or disable such officer, or to do some other grievous bodily harm to such officer … shall be guilty of a felony offence.”
Simon now seeks your advice as to whether he can be found guilty under s.6 of the Assaults Against Public Officers Act 2012 (WA). He does not deny that he bit and severely wounded the police constable, but he says that he does not understand how he can be convicted under s.6 when he was not armed at the relevant time.
You carefully research the Assaults Against Public Officers Act 2012 (WA) and discover that it was duly and properly enacted by the Western Australian Parliament, signed into law by the Governor of Western Australia and commenced operation on 1 December 2012. You consult the transcript of the responsible Minister’s Second Reading Speech to Parliament when this legislation was being debated and you discover that the Minister had explained the purpose and object underlying s.6 as follows:
“The purpose and object of section 6 is to deter violent assaults against policemen or other public officers and to ensure that, in the event of such an assault occurring, the guilty party or parties are severely punished. Thus any such assault, however it may be committed, which is carried out with the intent of maiming, disfiguring or disabling any public officer, or otherwise with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm to such an officer shall, under this section, constitute a felony offence and will be punishable accordingly.”
Drawing on your understanding of the common law and statutory guides to the interpretation of legislation, advise Simon as to his legal position.
(NB: If you need more facts to answer this question indicate what they are and why you need them.)
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