Judgement Report Essay Example

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Judgement Report

Plenty v Dillon [1991] HCA 5

Brief Report on Plenty v Dillon [1991] HCA 5

Officers entered the property of Mr. Plenty against his wish of being served with summon through the post. The case of trespass arose and the trespassers were the officers who entered the private property to deliver summon for Mr Plenty’s 14-year-old daughter. Thus, the appellant is Mr Plenty and the defendant is Mr Dillon (Officer).

The issues for case involved establishing trespass in the South Australian Laws for private property protection. In the court process, the appeal case sought to answer the question if a police officer possesses any legal grounds as per the South Australian jurisdiction to enter private property to serve the owners with summon from a magistrate. This is even after the owner had notified the officer of having no permission to enter the private property. Further, the case sought to establish the award for damages with a verdict of trespass being passed.

The legal principles that informed the appeal case process included the Justice Act 1921-1975 (S.A.), s. 27 and common law cases with Semayne’s Case (1572) EngR 333 setting the precedence. However, Justice Act 1921 (S.A.), s. 27 does not give an explicit description of the right to enter a property.1 Thus, common law cases are analysed for the outcome of the right to enter a property to be ascertained and trespass determined.

The common law on trespass tries to protect private property possession and the security of the owner.2 Under common law, accessing private property without implied or express consent of the owner or legal consent as per the legislation is unlawful. Entry into private property is expressly covered by the Justice Act 1921 (S.A.), s. 27; but power to ascertain damages upon a verdict of trespass is left out.

Entry into private property is supposed to happen under implied right of entry or lawful right of entry supported by legislation. Although there are government statutes and legislation that allows for officers or citizens to enter or access private properties: The two judges of appeal, Gaudron and McHugh JJ indicated that in the absence of express provision to the contrary, the provisions fails to give the power to act in a manner that would be regarded as affecting the owner. In the act of Dillon accessing Mr Plenty’s property, there were no exceptions applied and thus, trespass occurred. The officer acted in futility and went ahead to provoke the appellant in the altercations that occurred later on. The serving of summon could have been accomplished by honouring the means of using the post office. The action could have effectively utilised the posting rule where the post office could have been the implied agent to make sure the receipt of summon to the intended party.

The cases evaluated and legislations ascertained the issue of trespass and the need for damages to the appellant.3 The awarding of damages to the Appellant (Mr Plenty) by the two rulings indicate the strength of Australian legal structures irrespective of the case at hand. The ruling was against officers of the government trying to execute an official order but, failing to follow the law. One being an officer of the government does not warrant the opportunity to go against the law in the execution of their duties. Thus, the ruling stamps the legal principle of protecting private property against any intervention and the owner assured of security.

Damages are remedies to tort actions, and the case of trespass to Mr Plenty indicates the invasion of private property without express or implied consent or backed by any legal legislation merely to serve a summon. One key point to note is the fact that the two judges also did present different views to those of the Supreme Court trial judge who had upheld the trespass but disapproved the award for damages considering the trespass to have occurred as a trifling nature. The two judges indicated that once a person obtained a verdict in an action of trespass nature, awarding of damages was necessary and the trespass was not in the way of trifling nature.4 Further, it is crucial to note that by invading the privacy of the appellant and disturbing his, peace the officer violated the rights of the appellant causing emotion distress and serious invasion of privacy.

Laws are made for all people and must be upheld irrespective of one’s stature in the society or government. The lack of upholding individual rights through effective remedies in the Courts of common law, a sense of injustice may ensue bringing about anarchy. The result is an invasion of private property with a lack of legal backing for culprits to be subjected to pay damages to the property’s owner for violating their privacy. The judges supported this through an award of damages by asserting that the Appellant who is Mr Plenty have the right to his property being vindicated through the award of substantive damages.5 The second judgement by the three bench judge asserts the same argument with various quotations from previous cases. It is apparent that police officers commit a trespass upon entering private property without proper authorisation or consent of the owner.

In conclusion, Plenty v Dillon gives a perfect example of a judgement upholding the rights of citizens against the process and actions of government officers. The judgements give a clear common law principle for police and private individuals to honour private properties and follow set out legislation process in serving summons. This not only brings justice to the party involved but also contributes to the growth of democracy in a country giving confidence to the public of getting justice with the judicial processes. The case has set a precedent in legal cases involving trespass of private property and the award of damages once a verdict of trespass is made.

Work Cited

Plenty v Dillon [1991] HCA 5 High Court of Australia.

Semayne’s Case [1572] EngR 333

Plenty v Dillon [1991] HCA 5, 21

Semayne’s Case [1572] EngR 333; (1604) 5 Co Rep 91a

Plenty v Dillon [1991] HCA 5, 3, 4, 5.

Plenty v Dillon [1991] HCA 5, 24

Plenty v Dillon [1991] HCA 5, 25c