This case was an appeal from a judgment of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia ordering that a sequestration order be made against the appellant’s estate pursuant to s 52 of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth).
At first instance, a lengthy, confusing and circular exchange occurred between the primary judge and the appellant. During the exchange, the appellant wasted the Court’s time with nonsensical recitations and his refusal to directly acknowledge that he was the respondent to the creditor’s petition. The primary judge found that the appellant was not the respondent to the creditor’s petition, ordered the appellant’s removal from the courtroom by security staff and determined the creditor’s petition in the appellant’s absence.
On appeal, the appellant argued that he was denied procedural fairness because he was denied the opportunity to call evidence or to make submissions. The respondent argued that the primary judge appropriately exercised a discretionary power, but in any event, a properly conducted hearing could not possibly have produced a different result such that a new hearing was futile.
In allowing the appeal, the Court found that the exchanges between the primary judge and the appellant did not justify the appellant’s exclusion from the courtroom and he was denied procedural fairness. The Court was not satisfied that a properly conducted hearing could not possibly have produced a different result. The sequestration order was set aside, and the matter was returned to the Federal Circuit Court for a fresh hearing.
Anthony Messina appeared for the respondent instructed by Sphere Legal.