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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 August 1993) . . Page.. 2313 ..

The provision will lie in wait for a time in the future when a provision of an Act of this Assembly may be struck down, in order to save so much of the law that this Assembly passed as is capable of being saved. It is an important provision to allow the will of the Assembly to have as much validity as it can have. In the absence of this provision, as Mr Humphries noted, the common law position would be that the Assembly intends its creatures, its Acts, to stand in their entirety, and if any one part of a statute is struck down by a court the entire statute would collapse. It seems to have been a policy oversight on self-government not to include this in the original Interpretation Act.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

BILL 1993

Debate resumed from 13 May 1993, on motion by Mr Connolly:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR HUMPHRIES (8.52): Madam Speaker, this Bill corrects what could be described as a legal anomaly in ACT law. It is only relatively recently in the history of our legal system that it has been possible to bring actions in our courts for nervous shock. This is a relatively recent invention and, as such, it has had a slightly different course of development from some other sorts of actions which have had a longer pedigree. The Minister said in his presentation speech that this particular branch of the law has an interesting history. As I said before, unfortunately we did not get to hear it viva voce, but the Minister did go through some of the pertinent law as it developed. He mentioned, for example, the very interesting case of Donohue v. Stevenson, one of my personal favourite cases involving a woman who partly consumed a bottle of ginger beer, only to discover that the unconsumed part contained the remains of a decomposed snail. This was an important case in the development of this branch of the law.

For some reason, in the ACT it has been necessary for actions for nervous shock to be brought in the Supreme Court only. It is an action whose commencement is reserved for that court alone. Today the jurisdiction of our Magistrates Court is quite extensive, and it seems to be the policy of successive governments to expand the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court because that court is obviously a lower court and therefore it is cheaper for actions to be run in that court. Today the jurisdiction of that court in the ACT is $50,000, and one is capable of conducting a quite extensive action for nervous shock in a court with that jurisdiction.

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