1 April 2019
After upholding an application by the NSW Police Commissioner to prohibit a Stop Adani protest scheduled to take place in Newtown in February, the NSW Supreme Court rejected an application by the Police Commissioner that the organizer of the protest pay his legal costs for going to Court.
The Stop Adani protest was intended to proceed along King St, Newtown on 17 February, the same day as Fair Day organized by Mardi Gras in nearby Victoria Park. The Court considered that the level of disruption which would be caused by closing King St for the duration of the Stop Adani protest on the same day as Fair Day justified the making of a prohibition order.
For the first time in this kind of case, the Police Commissioner sought a costs order against the organizer of the protest. The Court rejected the application on the basis that the grounds on which the Commissioner succeeded in obtaining a prohibition order were not raised until immediately prior to the commencement of the Court proceedings. In those circumstances, the organizer had not acted unreasonably in insisting that the matter be determined by the Court. The Court rejected an argument that costs should not be awarded on public interest grounds.
Pauline Wright, President of CCL, said “The application for costs by the Police Commissioner, and the rejection by the Court of a public interest test, is a matter of concern. It could have a chilling effect on people seeking to exercise their democratic rights. Organisers of protests will need to get legal advice if the police oppose their assemblies, and face a risk of a costs order against them if they force the Commissioner to go to Court.”
“Any self-respecting democratic society should not burden people who wish to exercise their rights of political expression with the risk of paying the Police Commissioner’s legal bill.”
Contacts in relation to this statement.
0418 292 656
Freedom of speech action group