These proceedings concern the liability of a number of parties in a helicopter accident. During the proceedings, the Defendant, GBR Helicopters, issued third party notices for contribution to the First Third Party, Ergon Energy Corporation on the basis that Ergon mismanaged the powerlines which the helicopter had flown into. In its statement of claim, Ergon defended its liability but accepted that Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act (CACL) applied. Further, in the amended third party statement of claim, Ergon accepted that GBR Helicopters was liable under the CACL. However, in the amended defence to GBR Helicopters’ amended statement of claim, Ergon denied that GBR Helicopters was liable under the CACL. Ergon sought leave to withdraw its earlier admission of GBR Helicopters’ liability.
Porter QC DCJ held that Ergon’s admission could not be withdrawn. Although the activities of the Plaintiffs in the helicopter may have been outside its intended use this did not rule out the application of the CACL. Further, his Honour determined that liability under the CACL is the basis of the parties’ positions and as such allowing the application would have significant implications for the trial. Therefore, the application was dismissed.
Scott McLeod QC (with S Lumb) appeared for the Applicant/First Third party in each proceeding, instructed by Allens.
The judgment is published here.