Recent Cases

Hobart International Airport Pty Ltd v Clarence City Council [2022] HCA 5 (09 March 2022) (Kiefel CJ, Gageler, Keane, Gordon, Edelman, Steward and Gleeson JJ)


Constitutional Law (Cth) – Judicial power of Commonwealth – Meaning of “matter” – Where Commonwealth entered leases (“Leases”) with operators of Hobart Airport and Launceston Airport (“Lessees”) for Hobart Airport site and Launceston Airport site (“Airports”) – Where Clarence City Council and Northern Midlands Council (“Councils”) administer municipal area covering Airports – Where Airports not amenable to council rates or State land tax because located on Commonwealth land – Where cl 26.2(a) of Leases requires that, in lieu of rates, Lessees pay Councils amount that would have been payable if Airports not on Commonwealth land, but relevantly only in respect of parts of Airports on which “trading or financial operations are undertaken” – Where Lessees required to use “all reasonable endeavours” to enter agreements with Councils to make such payments – Where Commonwealth and Lessees not in dispute about meaning of cl 26.2(a) or Lessees’ compliance with it – Where Councils not parties to Leases – Where Councils sought declaratory relief regarding proper construction of cl 26.2(a) and Lessees’ obligations to make payments – Whether dispute involves “matter” for purposes of Ch III of Constitution – Whether dispute involves justiciable controversy – Whether Councils have standing to have dispute determined.

Words and phrases – “all reasonable endeavours”, “declaratory relief”, “doctrine of privity”, “federal jurisdiction”, “heads of jurisdiction”, “immediate right, duty or liability to be established”, “judicial power of the Commonwealth”, “justiciable controversy”, “legally enforceable remedy”, “material interest”, “matter”, “outsider to a contract”, “private rights”, “public rights”, “real commercial interest”, “real interest”, “real practical importance”, “special interest”, “standing”, “subject matter requirement”, “sufficient interest”, “third party”, “trading or financial operations”.