Full Court of the Federal Court Refuses John Holland Leave in Comcare Civil Prosecution CaseVictoria, Australia (News4us.com) March 11, 2011
The Full Court of the Federal Court today refused John Holland Pty Ltd (JH) and John Holland Rail Pty Ltd (JHR) leave to appeal Justice Bromberg’s decision not to withdraw himself from hearing a civil prosecution Comcare commenced against them under federal work health and safety laws.
The action follows the injury of a labour hire worker during construction work on a light rail network in St Kilda, Victoria in 2007.
Comcare subsequently commenced proceedings in 2008 against JHR and JH alleging the companies had failed to discharge their workplace safety obligations.
The John Holland companies bias application followed a telephone call Comcare’s solicitor made to the judge’s associate seeking to have the matter listed for Justice Bromberg to resolve a number of procedural issues prior to a trial in March.
They argued that the call, which was made without giving prior notice to JH or JHR’s solicitors, gave rise to an apprehension that his Honour was biased in Comcare’s favour.
The Full Court rejected JH and JHR’s characterisation of the facts and law and ordered them to pay Comcare costs, finding that:
We are not persuaded that the … circumstances … could give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a fair-minded lay observer.
The trial of Comcare’s civil prosecution will commence on 15 March 2011.
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