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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 318..


MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I am sure, Mr Speaker, that we all have reason on occasions to want to repudiate some element or another of the system because it does not suit the needs of the ACT. On those occasions I look forward to reminding those opposite that it is not necessarily the be-all and end-all of governments or parliamentary operation.

Debate (on motion by Mr Rugendyke ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Legislation (Access and Operation) (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2000

Debate resumed from 30 November 2000, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Debate (on motion by Mr Rugendyke ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Bill 2000

Debate resumed from 18 October 2000, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.55): Mr Speaker, the former Attorney-General presented this bill on 18 October 2000. The bill would reverse the decision of the High Court and permit the apportionment of damages in contract according to the degree of fault of each of the plaintiff and defendant. It only applies where the claim in contract could also be made in tort. This ensures that claims in tort and contract are treated in the same manner and that the law is returned to the position most courts believed it to be in prior to the High Court's decision in the case of Astley v Austrust.

I understand that the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General considered the issue and recommended that all jurisdictions legislate in the same way. The bill does have an element of retrospectivity, which the former Attorney justified on the basis that it was restoring the law to what it was before the High Court decision. Mr Speaker, the Labor Party is happy to support the bill.

MS TUCKER (11:56): The Greens are also supporting this legislation. We understand that it amends the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act so that it is clear that, even if you contribute to a wrong caused to you, you are not ruled out from pursuing some restitution simply on the basis that some of the responsibility falls on you. I understand that the government's action in this regard returns the law to the understanding that existed before Astley v Austrust Pty Ltd in the High Court, which found that contributory negligence ruled you out of any claims in regard to a wrong under contract.

The increasing importance of contract law over past years is a compounding factor and it is clear that such a situation needs to be addressed. This amendment simply ensures that provisions regarding contributory negligence will apply equally to proceedings based in tort or contract.


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