Reasonable grounds for a state of mind

Nominal Defendant v Chilly & Bayles [2011] QDC 65

I refer to my earlier posting concerning Nominal Defendant v Chaffey & Ors [2011] QSC 88 and note it has since been followed.

Koppenol DCJ

[4] To set aside such a judgment, the second defendant would need to establish, amongst other things, that he had a prima facie defence on the merits. The second defendant’s purported defence was under section 60(2)(b) of the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (MAIA), namely that at the time of the motor vehicle accident in 2000, he believed on reasonable grounds that (1) he had the owner’s consent to drive the motor vehicle and (2) that the motor vehicle was insured. For present purposes, I need only deal with the second criterion.

[5] In George v Rockett [1990] HCA 26; (1990) 170 CLR 104 at 112 and 116, the High Court held that when a statute prescribes that there must be “reasonable grounds” for a state of mind, it requires the existence of facts which are sufficient to induce that state of mind in a reasonable person. In Nominal Defendant v Chaffey & Ors [2011] QSC 88, the Supreme Court of Queensland (Philippides J) held, at [51], that in a case where the person concerned did not direct his mind to whether the vehicle was registered, an assumption that the relevant vehicle was registered and insured unless told otherwise was not a belief on reasonable grounds.

[6] Before me, the second defendant gave evidence that whether the motor vehicle was insured or not was not in his mind; he did not turn his mind to it. In those circumstances, the second defendant has not established the second criterion in section 60(2)(b) of the MAIA. Accordingly, the second defendant does not have a prima facie defence on the merits and this application must be refused.

Brisbane Barrister – David Cormack

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