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CASA Annual Report 2004-05 - Part 5: Statutory Reporting Requirements

Part 5: Statutory Reporting Requirements

Significant judicial decisions and administrative review decisions

Under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Orders 2002, CASA must report, in accordance with subclause 11(a), on any judicial decisions and decisions of administrative tribunals that have had, or may have, a significant impact on its operations.

In the reporting period, there were two judicial decisions and judicial decisions of administrative tribunals that have had, or may have, a significant impact on CASA's operations.

Sydney Heliscenic Pty Ltd v CASA

Claim for breach of contract by CASA relating to undertakings ostensibly given by CASA in the course of regulatory action against the plaintiff.

The NSW District Court held that CASA had entered into a contract with the plaintiff in relation to the exercise of its safety regulatory powers, and awarded the plaintiff $200,000 in damages. The decision has significant ramifications for CASA, and potentially regulators and other statutory decision-makers in other fields.

In essence, it equates CASA's discussions with regulated entities regarding enforcement decisions with contract negotiations, and imposes a commercial overlay on what are essentially regulatory decisions made in the public interest. CASA believes the formation of a contract in such circumstances is contrary to established legal principles, and has appealed the decision to the NSW Supreme Court.

CASA v Boatman and Kennedy

A series of inter-related actions in the Federal Court and Full Federal Court arising from the first application of CASA's power to suspend a civil aviation authorisation for a serious and imminent risk to air safety under Division 3A of Part III of the Civil Aviation Act 1988.

The actions have clarified some aspects of the operation of Division 3A, although significantly the Federal Court is still to give reasons for its decision that the respondents had not engaged in conduct which constituted a serious and imminent risk to air safety.

CASA is awaiting the Court's reasons, and hopes that those reasons will provide some guidance on the meaning of "serious and imminent risk" in the legislation. Depending on those reasons, CASA may appeal against the Federal Court's decision.