High Court of Australia

Bell Group N.V. (in liquidation) v Western Australia; W.A. Glendinning & Associates Pty Ltd v Western Australia; Maranoa Transport Pty Ltd (in liq) v Western Australia [2016] HCA 21

16 May 2016

Case Number: S248/2015; P63/2015; P4/2016


French CJ, Kiefel, Bell, Gageler, Keane, Nettle, Gordon JJ


Constitutional law – Inconsistency between Commonwealth and State laws – Bell Group Companies (Finalisation of Matters and Distribution of Proceeds) Act 2015 (WA) – Where rights and obligations arose and had accrued to Commonwealth under Commonwealth law prior to commencement of State law – Where State law purports to create scheme under which Commonwealth tax debts stripped of characteristics ascribed to them by Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth) and Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) – Whether State law invalid by reason of s 109 of Constitution – Whether State law alters, impairs or detracts from operation of Commonwealth law – Whether provisions can be read down or severed – Whether State law invalid in its entirety.

Constitutional law – Standing – Where Attorney-General of Commonwealth intervened generally in support of plaintiffs – Whether plaintiffs have standing in their own right to challenge validity of State law.

Words and phrases – "accrued rights", "alter, impair or detract from", "inconsistency", "justiciable controversy", "reading down", "severance", "standing".

Constitution – s 109.

Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth) – ss 177, 208, 209, 215, 254.

Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) – Sched 1, ss 255-5, 260-45, 350-10(1).

Bell Group Companies (Finalisation of Matters and Distribution of Proceeds) Act 2015 (WA).

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