Thomson Geer successfully defends Scott Morrison, Dominic Perrottet and other senior members of the Liberal Party of Australia in the NSW Court of Appeal and High Court of Australia

May 9, 2022

Sydney disputes Partner John Howard, assisted by Associate Mabel Wong and Partner Peter Harrison, have successfully advised and acted for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, Liberal Party federal president John Olsen and others in the recent Federal Liberal Party intervention into the management of its NSW Division and the resulting high profile proceedings brought against our clients by Matthew Camenzuli.

Mr Camenzuli challenged in court the “captain’s pick” pre-selections and endorsements of Liberal Party candidates to contest seats in the House of Representatives for the upcoming 2022 federal election following the party’s Federal Executive taking over the management of its NSW Division to resolve ongoing preselection deadlocks and delays.

An adverse result for our clients would have affected the ability of the party to nominate candidates for the upcoming Federal Election in up to 12 federal seats, including two seats held by current senior cabinet ministers.

The proceedings were extremely hard fought and carried out with expedition. They involved hearings in the Supreme Court of NSW, the Court of Appeal and the High Court of Australia, all completed within two weeks of the initial filing of the claim. To further complicate matters both John and Mabel caught Covid during the case and were forced to prepare and conduct most of it from home supported by Peter Harrison in the office.

The NSW Court of Appeal ultimately unanimously ruled in favour of our clients that the process followed and thus the pre-selections were valid.

We were again successful in resisting Mr Camenzuli’s application for special leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision to the High Court of Australia.

The Judgment of the New South Wales Court of Appeal is now the leading precedent on the justiciability of disputes arising out of the rules/constitutions of unincorporated political parties in Australia.

Partner John Howard said: “This dispute was one of the most high pressure and legally complex matters I have ever worked on. From the outset of our involvement we realised that any actions taken by our clients were always going to be the subject of legal challenge given the strong views of the plaintiff and his communications with the party.  We developed a detail-focused strategy that enabled our clients to succeed all the way to the High Court and paving the way for the May 21 election to be called.”

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