Victoria Supreme Court quashes orders in subletting dispute

The court ruled that personal safety intervention orders were issued without supporting oral evidence

Victoria Supreme Court quashes orders in subletting dispute

The Victoria Supreme Court has quashed personal safety intervention orders (PSIO) issued in a subletting dispute because they were issued without supporting oral evidence.

In Myers v Satheeskumar & Ors (Judicial Review) [2024] VSC 12, which involved a shared house in Berwick, the Victoria Supreme Court found that the Magistrates' Court breached s. 38(1) of the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 by issuing interim PSIOs against John Myers without supporting oral evidence or an affidavit, violating the statutory requirements.

The Victoria Supreme Court noted that the PSIO Act is designed to safeguard the victims of assault and harm, providing a comprehensive system for the issuance of personal safety intervention orders. The court may grant an interim PSIO if it is satisfied that an interim order is necessary pending a final decision about the application to ensure the safety of the affected person and that it is appropriate to make the order. An interim PSIO may be made without notice to the respondent and in their absence. Contravention of an interim PSIO can give rise to an offence and can lead to arrest.

The court emphasised that these orders, granted by the Magistrates' Court and Children's Court, play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of affected individuals.

The court's power to grant interim PSIOs is subject to specific conditions outlined in s. 38(1) of the PSIO Act. The court "must not" grant an interim PSIO unless the application is supported by oral evidence or an affidavit unless waived under certain circumstances. However, in a recent case, the Magistrates' Court issued interim PSIOs against Myers based solely on written applications supported by declarations of truth without the required affidavit or oral evidence.

The court's decision raised questions about the validity of the interim PSIOs granted in similar circumstances and potential systematic defects in the process. The breach of s. 38(1) has led the Supreme Court to rule that the interim PSIOs against Myers are invalid.

In delivering the judgment, the court emphasised the importance of adhering to the statutory provisions, highlighting that interim PSIOs without the necessary supporting evidence could have unduly prejudicial impacts on respondents.

Despite acknowledging the public inconvenience and safety concerns associated with this ruling, the court concluded that the breach of s. 38(1) rendered the interim PSIOs invalid. The judgment emphasised that any perceived solution to address potential issues must be left to the legislature, not the court.

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