Recent Cases

The Queen v Rolfe [2021] HCA 38 (10 November 2021) (Kiefel CJ, Gageler, Keane, Gordon, Edelman, Steward and Gleeson JJ)


Criminal law – Defences – Where respondent member of Northern Territory Police Force – Where respondent alleged to have fatally shot deceased after being deployed to arrest – Where respondent charged with murder and alternative offences under Criminal Code (NT) – Where s 148B of Police Administration Act 1978 (NT) (“Act”) provides person “not civilly or criminally liable” for act done or omitted to be done “in good faith” in actual or purported “exercise of a power or performance of a function under” Act – Where s 5(2) of Act lists “core functions” of Police Force – Where s 25 of Act provides member of Police Force “shall perform the duties and obligations and have the powers and privileges as are, by any law in force in the Territory, conferred or imposed on” member – Whether “function” under s 148B of Act includes core functions listed in s 5(2) of Act.

Criminal practice – Question of law arising before trial – Where trial judge referred four questions to Full Court of Supreme Court of Northern Territory of Australia – Where questions referred on basis of “assumed facts” – Where “assumed facts” not agreed and likely to be disputed at trial – Where Full Court reformulated third question – Whether third question hypothetical – Whether Full Court erred in reformulating third question.

Words and phrases – “assumed facts”, “common law powers”, “defence”, “exercise of a power or performance of a function”, “fragmenting the ordinary course of criminal proceedings”, “hypothetical”, “powers and functions of a police officer”, “protection from liability”.