Housing Rights and the Meaning of 'Public Authority': Metrowest Housing v Sadi

In November 2008, the Centre was granted leave to appear as amicus curiae in a matter concerning the meaning of ‘public authority’ under the Victorian Charter.  This is a question of great significance, as it is public authorities who are bound to act compatibly with and give proper consideration to human rights.  The issue arose in the context of an application by Metro West Housing Services Ltd, a private non-profit company, for orders of possession against two groups of vulnerable tenants. Section 4(1)(c) provides that, for the purposes of the Charter, a public authority includes ‘an entity whose functions are or include functions of a public nature, when it is exercising those functions on behalf of the State or a public authority (whether under contract or otherwise)’.

The Centre submitted that while ‘there cannot be a single litmus test of what is a function of a public nature’ (see YL v Birmingham City Council [2008] 1 AC 95 at [65] per Baroness Hale), a number of principles should guide the Tribunal’s consideration of s 4(1)(c).

Download the HRLC submission here.