Law Council Labels Attack On High Court Unwarranted And Unfounded

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20th November 2009, 01:50pm - Views: 939

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20 November 2009

Law Council Labels Attack on High

Court Unwarranted and Unfounded

The Law Council has described as “extraordinary” a reported attack on the

High Court by Senator Steve Hutchins, the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint

Committee on the Australian Crime Commission. 

Law Council President John Corcoran

said, “If accurately reported, his

comments reveal an alarming support for unchecked executive powers, and

they are particularly disappointing from a person charged with the oversight

of the powerful Australian Crime Commission.” 

On 12 November, the High Court issued a decision striking down section 10

of the NSW Criminal Assets Recovery Act, which allows the NSW Crime

Commission to make an ex parte application (an application where the other

side is not heard)

to the Supreme Court for a restraining order over a

person’s assets.

The decision was

based on two simple principles. 

First, a person should

have the opportunity to be heard before a decision is made which adversely

impacts on them. 

Secondly, legislation which requires the court to act as little more than a

rubber stamp for the Executive will fall foul of the Constitution.

Senator Hutchins, in a speech to the Australian Federal Police Association,


took issue with these principles, accusing the High Court of

acting "with a complete disregard for the interests of public order and


Mr Corcoran said he hoped the Senator had been misquoted or quoted out

of context. 

“Many of these measures, aimed at of tackling serious and organised crime,

have been introduced at the request of, and on the advice of, law

enforcement agencies, with little room allowed for voices of dissent or

caution,” Mr Corcoran said.  

“I am not surprised that decisions like this

one made by the High Court

come as a shock to some lawmakers. However, I would hope that rather

than viewing the court’s decision as an affront, they would consider it a

chance for measured reflection and review,” Mr Corcoran concluded.

Media Contact:

Elenore Eriksson, Director Public Affairs 

P. 02 6246 3716 || M. 0419 269 855

The Law Council of Australia exists to represent the legal

profession at the national level, to speak on behalf of its constituent

bodies on national issues, and to promote the administration of

justice, access to justice and general improvement of the law.

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