Recent Cases

Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority v Director of National Parks [2024] HCA 16 (08 May 2024) (Gageler CJ; Gordon, Edelman, Steward, Gleeson, Jagot and Beech-Jones JJ)


Statutes – Construction – Presumptions – Imposition of criminal liability – Where Director of National Parks (“DNP”) engaged contractor to perform construction works within “sacred site” under Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989 (NT) (“Sacred Sites Act”) – Where works undertaken without permission of “Authority Certificate” or “Minister’s Certificate” under Sacred Sites Act – Where s 34(1) of Sacred Sites Act prohibits “[a] person” from carrying out work on or using sacred site and specifies criminal penalties for breach – Where DNP a body corporate pursuant to Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) – Where s 17 of Interpretation Act 1978 (NT) defines “person” to include body politic and body corporate – Where appellant charged DNP with offence against s 34(1) – Whether DNP can be criminally liable for breach of s 34(1) – Whether DNP entitled to benefit of presumption stated in Cain v Doyle (1946) 72 CLR 409 against imposition of criminal liability “upon the Crown” – Whether presumption stated in Cain v Doyle confined to presumption against construing statute to impose criminal liability on body politic.

Words and phrases – “bind the Crown”, “body corporate”, “body politic”, “criminal liability”, “Crown in right of”, “person”, “presumption”, “privileges of the Crown”, “sacred site”, “statutory corporation”.