High Court of Australia

Agtrack (NT) Pty Limited v Hatfield [2005] HCA 38

223 CLR 251; 79 ALJR 1389; 218 ALR 677

10 Aug 2005

Case Number: M192/2004


Gleeson CJ, McHugh, Gummow, Kirby, Hayne, Callinan, Heydon JJ


Aviation – Carriage by air - Liability of carrier - Liability under Pt IV of the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959 (Cth) ("Carriers Act") for damage sustained by reason of the death of a passenger resulting from an accident which took place on board an aircraft in the course of commercial transport operations - Liability enforceable for the benefit of such family members of deceased passenger as sustained damage by reason of the death - Passenger killed in aircraft accident - Action brought by family member - Whether action in exercise of right to damages brought within two years of the date on which the carriage stopped - Whether right to damages extinguished.

Aviation – Carriage by air - Liability of carrier - Family member's statutory right to damages - Extinguishment - Whether extinguishment of right to damages by effluxion of time involves determination of a condition which is of the essence of the right to damages or merely bars enforcement of the right.

Pleading – Statement of claim - Whether sufficient facts pleaded to raise a claim under Carriers Act, Pt IV - Whether explicit invocation of Carriers Act, Pt IV is necessary to raise such a claim - Relevance of rules of court of a State court where claim arises under federal law.

Pleading – Amendment - Amendment to pleadings to place beyond doubt reliance upon Carriers Act - Whether such amendment permissible after date on which right to damages would be extinguished - Relevance of State limitation of actions legislation.

Private international law – Choice of law - Cause of action accrues in Northern Territory - Action brought in Victoria - Cause of action arises under federal law - Whether common law choice of law rules applicable.

Constitutional law (Cth) – Federal judicial power - Federal jurisdiction - Jurisdiction invested in State courts in matters arising under federal law - Whether federal jurisdiction engaged - Whether law of Victoria governs the action by reason of Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) ("Judiciary Act"), ss 79, 80 - Whether federal claim properly pleaded according to rules of court of a State court.

Constitutional law (Cth) – Inconsistency of laws - State law adopting Lord Campbell's Act invalid as inconsistent with Carriers Act, s 35(2) - Consequences of inconsistency - Relationship of s 109 of the Constitution with Judiciary Act, s 79.

Words and phrases – "is extinguished", "action … brought".

Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959 (Cth) – Pt IV.

Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) – ss 39, 79, 80.

Constitution – s 76(ii).


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