Proportionate liability — restored to working order

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Since 2009, the scope of proportionate liability legislation across all Australian jurisdictions has been severely constrained by the imposition of a very high hurdle by the Victorian Court of Appeal in St George Bank v Quinerts (2009) 25 VR 666. Unless tortfeasor A could show that the acts of tortfeasor B contributed to tortfeasor A’s wrongful actions, proportionate liability provisions were not enlivened. Quinerts has since been followed by a five-member bench of the NSW Court of Appeal in Mitchell Morgan v Vella (2011) 16 BPR 30,189.

Yesterday, the High Court delivered a significant decision (Hunt & Hunt v Mitchell Morgan [2013] HCA 10) which overturned the decision in Vella and dismissed much of the reasoning in Quinerts. In doing so, the High Court has confirmed that proportionate liability legislation will have a significant role to play in many disputes where the actions of more than one party were involved in the losses claimed…

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