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Appropriation (Dr Carmen Lawrence's Legal Costs) Bill 1999-2000

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2000

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

APPROPRIATION (DR CARMEN LAWRENCE’S LEGAL COSTS) BILL 1999-2000

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

(Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Finance and Administration,

 the Hon John J Fahey, MP)



APPROPRIATION (DR CARMEN LAWRENCE’S LEGAL COSTS) BILL 1999-2000

 

GENERAL OUTLINE

The purpose of the Bill is to provide legislative authority for expenditure by the Attorney-General’s Department in meeting the Commonwealth’s liability under orders  made on 25 February 2000 by the Federal Court of Australia in Vass & Ors v The Commonwealth and an associated liability to pay interest.  The Commonwealth’s liability in this regard relates to the legal costs of Dr Carmen Lawrence in connection with the Marks Royal Commission and her court challenges to that Commission.

 

The money appropriated in this Bill is additional to appropriations made by any other Appropriation Act.

 

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

The Bill provides for appropriations from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the designated special purpose. 

On 25 February 2000, the Federal Court ordered that the Commonwealth pay damages and interest in the amount of $761,594.13 and legal costs to be agreed or determined by the Court on taxation.  Interest will continue to accrue on the unpaid judgment.

While the amount of the appropriation is not quantified in the Bill, the specified purpose is defined by reference to, and limited in amount by, the terms of the orders made on 25 February 2000 by the Federal Court and the provisions of section 52 of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 .  Accordingly, the amount of the appropriation can be determined objectively - there is no element of discretion.

 



TERMS USED IN EXPLANATORY NOTES

appropriation means an authority under an Appropriation Act or any other law to draw money from the CRF, whether or not the law concerned uses the word ‘appropriation’ or ‘appropriated’;

Appropriation Act means the Appropriation Act (No. 1) 1999-2000 and the Appropriation Act (No. 3) 1999-2000

CRF means the Consolidated Revenue Fund established by section 81 of the Constitution.

 



NOTES ON CLAUSES

Clause 1—Short title

1.       Clause 1 provides for the short title of the Act to be the Appropriation (Dr Carmen Lawrence’s Legal Costs) Act 1999-2000 .

 

Clause 2—Commencement

2.           Provision is made for the Act to commence on Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3—Appropriation for the Attorney-General’s Department

3.          Clause 3 provides for appropriation out of the CRF of the amount of money required to meet the Commonwealth’s liability under the orders made on 25 February 2000 by the Federal Court of Australia in Vass & Ors v The Commonwealth and an associated liability to pay interest.



4.          In a judgment given on 2 February 2000, the Federal Court found the Commonwealth liable to the firm of solicitors Dunhill Madden Butler (‘the Applicants’) for damages for breach of contract.  The Court found that the Commonwealth had entered into a contract with the Applicants to pay the legal costs incurred by Dr Carmen Lawrence in relation to the Marks Royal Commission in Western Australia and Dr Lawrence’s court challenges to that Commission.  The Applicants acted for Dr Lawrence in the Commission and the related court challenges.



5.          On 25 February 2000 the Federal Court ordered that the Commonwealth pay to the Applicants damages and pre-judgment interest in the amount of $761,594.13.  The Commonwealth is also liable to pay interest on the judgment from the date of judgment to the date of payment (in accordance with section 52 of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 ).  In addition, the Commonwealth was ordered to pay the legal costs of the Applicants in pursuing the claim against the Commonwealth; the costs of the Applicants have not yet been agreed or determined by the Court on a taxation of costs and cannot be quantified until agreed or taxed. 



6.          Clause 3 appropriates the amount necessary for the Commonwealth to pay to the Applicants the damages and pre-judgment interest (ie. the amount of $761,594.13) as well as interest payable in accordance with section 52 of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 and costs as agreed or taxed.

 

Clause 4—Appropriations made by this Act are in addition to other appropriations

7.          Clause 4 makes clear that the appropriation made in this Act for the special purpose described in clause 3 is additional to appropriations made by any other Act: in particular, the Appropriation Act (No.1) 1999-2000 and the Appropriation Act (No.3) 1999-2000 .