Recent Cases

Masson v Parsons [2019] HCA 21 (19 June 2019) (Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon and Edelman JJ)


Constitutional law (Cth) – Courts – Federal courts – Federal jurisdiction – Matter arising under Commonwealth law – Where Commonwealth law provides rules in respect of parentage of children born of artificial conception procedures – Where State law provides irrebuttable presumption that biological father of child conceived by fertilisation procedure is not father in specified circumstances – Whether s 79(1) of Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) operates to pick up and apply text of State law as Commonwealth law – Whether State law regulates exercise of jurisdiction – Whether Commonwealth law has “otherwise provided” within meaning of s 79(1) of Judiciary Act – Whether tests for contrariety under s 79(1) of Judiciary Act and s 109 of Constitution identical – Whether State law applies of its own force in federal jurisdiction.

Family law – Parenting orders – Meaning of “parent” – Where Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) presumes best interests of child served by shared parental responsibility – Where s 60H of Family Law Act provides rules in respect of parentage of children born of artificial conception procedures – Where appellant provided semen to first respondent to conceive child with belief that he was fathering child – Where appellant had ongoing role in child’s financial support, health, education and general welfare and enjoyed extremely close and secure attachment relationship with child – Where first respondent later in de facto relationship with second respondent – Where appellant found to be “parent” within ordinary meaning of word but not under s 60H – Whether s 60H exhaustive of persons who may qualify as “parent” of child born of artificial conception procedure – Whether “parent” used in Family Law Act according to ordinary meaning except as otherwise provided – Whether appellant is “parent” within ordinary meaning – Whether ordinary meaning of “parent” excludes “sperm donor” – Whether appellant is “sperm donor”.

Words and phrases – “artificial conception procedure”, “complete upon its face”, “federal courts”, “federal jurisdiction”, “implicit negative proposition”, “inconsistency”, “irrebuttable presumption”, “jurisdiction”, “matter”, “ordinary meaning”, “otherwise provided”, “parent”, “parentage”, “parenting orders”, “picked up and applied”, “power”, “presumptions”, “regulates the exercise of jurisdiction”, “sperm donor”, “State jurisdiction”, “State legislative power”, “status”.