COMPELLING ORAL EVIDENCE FROM AN ACCUSED CORPORATION: HELICOPTER RESOURCES PTY LTD V COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA [2019] FCAFC 25

18 Mar 2020

INTRODUCTION

The above Federal Court case Helicopter Resources Pty Ltd v Commonwealth of Australia [2019] FCAFC 25 and subsequent High Court appeal is significant for prosecutors in light of developing case law regarding the compellability of evidence from an accused corporation prior to or following the commencement of a prosecution. The case highlights the possibilities of the current statutory framework and is timely in light of proposed changes to corporate criminal liability legislation.

This paper will first provide a factual background and procedural history of the above case. It will then examine the findings of the Federal Court, including a summary of key authorities in this area. It will then note the grounds of appeal and Submissions made by the parties before the High Court before providing some concluding remarks of what prosecutors should be aware of following the above decision.

Background Facts

The Commonwealth of Australia (Commonwealth) engaged Helicopter Resources Pty Ltd (Helicopter) to provide helicopter support services to the Commonwealth at the Davis Station in the Australian Antarctic Territory. Helicopter employed Captain Wood. On 11 January 2018 Captain Wood landed a helicopter across a hidden crevasse in ice. Whilst reboarding the helicopter Captain Wood slipped and fell into the crevasse. He died the following day.

On 19 September 2017 the hearing of a coronial inquest into the death of Captain Wood commenced under the provisions of the Coroner’s Act 1997 (ACT) which applies in the Australian Antarctic Territory through the provisions of the Australian Antarctic Treaty Act 1954 (Cth).

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Carmel Lee

Solicitor 2008
Barrister 2012

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