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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3169 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows:

Mr Speaker, in this Bill I invite the Assembly to reverse the effect of the decision of the High Court in Astley v Austrust Pty Ltd.

The decision in that case was about contributory negligence-a complex area of law.

Originally the law provided that if you contributed to the damage you suffered, your claim would fail.

This provision was ameliorated in the ACT by the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1955. Other jurisdictions passed similar laws. Until recently, it was thought that the effect of this change was to allow a claim to succeed even where a claimant contributed to the damage. The change also allowed a court to reduce the damages payable to what was just and equitable.

However, in Astley v Austrust Pty Ltd the High Court found a defect in the framing of a similar provision in another jurisdiction. It decided that the provision does not apply to a wrong under a contract (effectively restricting the effect of the law to wrongs under the law of tort).

This is too narrow. There are many circumstances where a claim can raise both a contractual claim and a tortious claim. Common examples are a patient's claim against their doctor; a client's claim against their solicitor or accountant; and a worker's claim against their employer.

The High Court's decision in these types of cases leads to uncertainty. With uncertainty, comes cost and delay.

The proposed amendments restore the law to previous understandings about how the law applied, before the High Court decision. The provision concerning contributory negligence will apply equally to legal proceedings based in tort or in contract.

Mr Speaker, I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan ) adjourned.


Mr Humphries presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Acting Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister) (11.32): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I ask for leave to have my presentation speech incorporated in Hansard.

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