High Court condemns conduct of Victorian police and barrister who informed on her client

AB (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym); EF (a pseudonym) v CD (a pseudonym) [2018] HCA 58

The High Court of Australia demonstrated its reluctance to uphold entitlements to confidentiality and privilege where there are egregious breaches of one’s right to a fair trial and legal professional privilege. The main issue before the High Court was between Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who wanted to disclose information discovered by Victoria’s anti-corruption commission, and the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police (Police Commissioner), who opposed disclosure because of security risks to a police informant (EF) who was simultaneously acting as a defence barrister for Tony Mokbel and six of his criminal associates (Mokbel and Associates).

The High Court found in favour of disclosure, holding that EF’s actions were “fundamental and appalling breaches of [her] obligations as counsel to her clients and of her duties to the court”. The Court also described the actions of Victoria Police as “reprehensible conduct in knowingly encouraging her” and “atrocious breaches of the sworn duties imposed on every police officer”.

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Victorian Supreme Court holds electroconvulsive treatment ordered against patients’ wishes a breach of human rights

PBU & NJE v Mental Health Tribunal [2018] VSC 564 (1 November 2018)

The Victorian Supreme Court has confirmed that the capacity test under the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) (MHA) must be interpreted and applied in a way that is compatible with the human rights of persons receiving compulsory mental health treatment under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Charter). This decision has significant implications for the human rights of persons with mental illness, and particularly for patients who may be subject to compulsory mental health treatment under the MHA.

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Bakery's refusal to supply cake with messages supporting gay marriage not discriminatory, UK Supreme Court holds

Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd [2018] UKSC 49

In a unanimous decision, the United Kingdom Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal that found a bakery's refusal to supply a cake with the message "support gay marriage" to a gay man amounted to direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The United Kingdom Supreme Court found that the bakery's refusal was centred on promoting the message and the bakers would have come to the same decision regardless of who requested it. In the Court's opinion it did not amount to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, or religious beliefs or political opinion.

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Human Rights Charter demands access to Koori Court, Victorian Supreme Court holds

Cemino v Cannan and Ors [2018] VSC 535

The Victorian Supreme Court has confirmed that courts must consider the distinct cultural rights of Aboriginal people under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) when making decisions in relation to an Aboriginal person’s request to be heard in the Koori Court. This decision has significant implications for Aboriginal people across Victoria and for decisions in the Courts about whether an Aboriginal person has access to the Koori Court.

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UK High Court finds BBC broadcast breaches Cliff Richard’s right to privacy

Sir Cliff Richard OBE V The British Broadcasting Corporation; The Chief Constable Of South Yorkshire Police [2018] EWHC 1837 (Ch)

The UK High Court has found that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) infringed the privacy of renowned musician Sir Cliff Richard (Sir Cliff) by broadcasting a raid by the South Yorkshire Police (the SYP) following an allegation of historical sexual offences.

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European Court of Human Rights finds Russia breached human rights of Pussy Riot members

Case of Mariya Alekhina and Others v Russia (ECHR, Third Section, Application no. 38004/12, 17 July 2018)

The European Court of Human Rights has found that Russia breached human rights conventions in the prosecution and imprisonment of feminist protest band Pussy Riot.

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Victorian Supreme Court finds Charter does not protect right to wear nikab in Court

The Queen v Chaarani (Ruling 1) [2018] VSC 387 (16 July 2018)

Justice Beale of the Victorian Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to an earlier order prohibiting the wearing of a nikab by a spectator during the trial of three men accused of plotting a Christmas bombing of Federation Square in Melbourne's CBD. Ms Aisha Al Qattan, the wife of one of the accused, submitted that a prohibition against wearing the nikab while in the public gallery of the court breached Ms Al Qattan's right of religious freedom and right to participate in public life. Both rights are enshrined in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights (Charter).

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US Supreme Court holds warrant is required for accessing location data

Carpenter v United States, S. Ct.  (22 June 2018)

The US Supreme Court held that a warrant is required for police to access cell site location information (CSLI) from a cell phone company under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. Chief Justice Roberts for the majority stated that the Court would "decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier's database of physical location information".

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