High Court of Australia

Ostrowski v Palmer [2004] HCA 30

218 CLR 493; 78 ALJR 957; 206 ALR 422

16 Jun 2004

Case Number: P35/2003


Gleeson CJ, McHugh, Kirby, Callinan, Heydon JJ


Criminal law – Defences - Respondent charged with fishing for rock lobsters in a prohibited area while holding a commercial fishing licence, contrary to a regulation made under statute - Respondent made inquiries at an office of a State Government department and was provided with incomplete information relating to prohibited areas - Respondent believed he had been provided with complete set of relevant regulations and was therefore unaware that fishing in relevant area was prohibited by law - Whether respondent could rely on defence of "mistake of fact" under s 24, Criminal Code (WA) - Whether respondent's honest and reasonable, but mistaken, belief was one of fact or law - Effect of officially induced error of law - Relevance of rules concerning pleading and proof of regulations.

Words and phrases – "mistake of fact", "mistake of law", "state of things".

Criminal Code (WA) – ss 22, 24.

Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (WA) – s 222.

Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995 (WA) – reg 34.

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