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A Roundup of the High Court’s First Sittings for 2021

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The High Court summer term for 2021 opened on Monday 1 February, with the court delivering three reserved judgments on Wednesday 3 February.


In Minister for Immigration and Border Protection v Makasa [2021] HCA 1, Kiefel CJ, Gageler, Keane, Gordon and Edelman JJ published joint reasons for dismissing the Minister’s appeal on the issue of whether he or his delegate could re-exercise a power to cancel a visa on character grounds in the absence of any new event or further information.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance Inc v New Acland Coal Pty Ltd [2021] HCA 2, an administrative law appeal from Queensland, concerned the issue whether a decision found to be affected by apprehended bias should be referred back to the original decision maker in its entirety.  The court (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane and Edelman JJ) held that it should.

Finally, in Westpac Securities Administration Ltd & Anor v Australian Securities and Investments Commission [2021] HCA 3, (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane and Gordon JJ), the court unanimously affirmed a decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia which held that the appellants had breached their financial services licence by giving “personal advice” (as statutorily defined) when seeking to persuade their superannuation customers to roll external super funds into those held with the appellants.

On Wednesday next week, the court will hand down judgment in Minister for Home Affairs v Benbrika, a constitutional case removed from the Supreme Court  about continuing detention orders for convicted terrorism offenders and whether the power to make such orders, conferred by federal Parliament on the Supreme Court of a State or Territory, is within the judicial power of the Commonwealth.  The matter was heard by Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Gordon, Edelman and Steward JJ on 10 December 2020.  It will be the last published Full Court decision involving Bell J and Steward J’s first.  Bell J is slated to retire by the first week of sittings in March 2021 and her Honour’s replacement, Jacqueline Gleeson J, will be sworn in early that month.

John Carroll
By John Carroll

John Carroll is a senior legal editor in Thomson Reuters ANZ Cases Team. He is a reporter of High Court cases and co-editor of the Australian Law Journal Reports.

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