Trial venue dispute – no connection to the venue

Laing v Jones [2022] QSC 234

The plaintiff lived on the Sunshine Coast and was injured in a motor vehicle collision in Townsville but filed her claim in the Cairns Supreme Court. The second defendant objected to the trial in Cairns and filed an application under Rule 39 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 that the proceeding be transferred to Brisbane.

His Honour Henry, in determining what was convenient or fair, had reference to the following decisions:

  • Clark v Ernest Henry Mining Pty Ltd [2019] 3 Qd R 136, 138; following National Mutual Holdings Pty Ltd v The Sentry Corporation (1988) 19 FCR 135

His Honour considered when the trial would be heard and considered it an important factor because of the plaintiff’s meagre financial circumstances. His Honour stressed there was a need to proceed to trial promptly so that the plaintiff could access any damages (liability having been admitted).

His Honour considered that the trial could be heard in a more timely manner in Cairns as opposed to Brisbane and that Practice Direction No 18/2018 could be dispensed with.

In terms of the Brisbane witnesses, his Honour gave due weight to the plaintiff’s concession to a standard costs order for witnesses and that, insofar as they related to the plaintiff’s witnesses, costs would be payable as if the trial was at Brisbane.

Ultimately, Henry J concluded that the trial would be more conveniently and fairly heard in Cairns, and the application to transfer it to Brisbane was refused.

David Cormack

Barrister and Mediator.

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