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Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade :: 2001-2002 Annual Report
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Appendix 8
Decisions by courts and administrative tribunals

The courts

  • Costs in relation to the second of two claims brought against the department in 1997 by two Australian citizens injured while passengers in an embassy vehicle overseas were settled. Legal proceedings had been instituted in the Supreme Court and Magistrates Court of the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Legal proceedings that involved the department defending a cross-claim brought against it in the Federal Court in relation to an information technology consultancy contract neared conclusion. The parties are currently awaiting the Court's judgment.
  • An inquiry by the Victorian Coroner into the death of an Australian citizen overseas remained adjourned, pending resolution of overseas criminal legal proceedings.
  • Following a foreign court's upholding of a locally engaged employee's appeal for a wrongful dismissal suit lodged in 1997, the department submitted a plea for immunity from execution of judgment while keeping open an offer of settlement.
  • Overseas legal proceedings were started in relation to a property dispute at an overseas post. No hearing date has been fixed, and parties are seeking further documents from each other through the court-supervised discovery process.
  • Proceedings continued in relation to a claim by a contractor against the department in the Victorian Supreme Court for recovery of monies in relation to a construction contract at an overseas post. The contract was terminated due to the political situation that prevailed in the country where the contract was being performed.
  • The department continued to defend in the NSW Supreme Court a 1999 claim concerning alleged medical negligence by a Commonwealth-employed doctor at an overseas medical clinic. The parties are currently seeking further details of each party's case.
  • The Federal Magistrates Court rejected an appeal by the applicant who had alleged that the department had discriminated against him in relation to his seeking employment. The Court awarded the department costs. The department is taking action to recover those costs.
  • A former locally engaged employee accepted the department's offer to settle a suit in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for breach of contract and/or negligence. Parties paid their own costs.
  • The department lodged a defence in respect of a personal injury claim at an overseas post made in the NSW Supreme Court. Issues relating to whether the appropriate law is that of Australia or of the country where the personal injury occurred is currently being determined.
  • A Family Court action initiated by an applicant over a decision by the department not to issue a passport to a child was resolved following undertakings given by the department after the first hearing.
  • The department is defending an action lodged in an overseas labour court against an unfair dismissal claim by a locally engaged employee.

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Tribunals

  • The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) dismissed an application to review a 1999 decision of the department not to issue a passport in names that may offend. The outcome of the applicant's appeal in the Federal Court against the department's decision is pending.
  • An application to the AAT in 2001 for review of the department's decision to issue a passport to a minor was withdrawn just prior to the hearing.
  • The department is awaiting a hearing date in regard to an AAT review of the scope of document searches made in response to a freedom of information request.
  • An application was made to the AAT in 2001 for review of the department's decision not to release documents pursuant to a freedom of information request. Notwithstanding compliance with consent orders by the department, the applicant's AAT application is ongoing.
  • An application was made to the AAT for review of the department's decision not to issue a passport to a child. A conciliation hearing took place on 18 July 2002.
  • An AAT application was dismissed in favour of the department in relation to a decision not to issue a passport to the applicant. The application was lodged in 2002.
  • An application was made to the AAT to review the department's decision not to issue a passport to the applicant. A hearing date has been set for 9 August 2002.
  • Four decisions by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to cancel passports were appealed in the AAT. These matters are currently at the preliminary stage of discovery of documents and no appeal date has been set. The department is a joint respondent with another Commonwealth agency.
  • Two locally engaged employees brought separate proceedings in an overseas employment tribunal at one post. One of these matters was dismissed by the Tribunal in favour of the department. The department is defending the other matter.
  • In response to two Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission investigations, the department has lodged submissions. At this stage, no hearing dates have been scheduled. One of the investigations involved a subcontractor to the department and another involved issues relating to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

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