B Impulsey Case Analysis

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LAWS1052 Extended Case Note Assignment
Bulsey & Anor v State of Queensland [2015] QCA 187 (6 October 2015)
(“Bulsey”)
I. Introduction
Bulsey represents the ongoing struggle of Indigenous Australians’ rights to be recognised and the importance of preventing arbitrary use of power. It highlights the potential for police to abuse their powers of arrest and emphasises that this concern is especially significant for Aborigines. Further, Bulsey deliberates intentional torts and in particular, personal injury damages and aggravated damages. Finally, it reflects the constitutionally entrenched right to seek justice in the Courts and their role in upholding the rule of law.

II. Background
In November, 2004, armed officers forcibly entered the appellants’
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Since s 62(1) only applies to general damages for personal injury and the other damages which the appellants were claiming were not personal injury damages, the relevant provisions of the Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) (“CLA”) did not apply.
The issue of whether an award for aggravated damages was precluded in s 52(1) of the CLA, was based on whether it was ‘an award “in relation to” a claim for personal injury damages’. Fraser JA referred to the Acts Interpretation Act to support the narrower construction of ‘in relation to’. He added that to interpret the legislative purpose as limiting damages for the insult if injury was added is ‘very odd’. Thus, the appellants were entitled to awards for aggravated damages.
Ratio Decidendi:
• A ‘claim for damages for deprivation of liberty is not a “claim for personal injury damages”’.
• Using the narrower construction of ‘in relation to’, s 52(1) of the CLA does not preclude an award of aggravated damages if the damages claimed are not in relation to personal injury.
V. Outcome
Each of the appellants’ appeal was allowed with costs.

VI. Obiter Dicta
Legal Issue
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Police powers, defined in state and Commonwealth legislation, are accompanied by responsibilities which effectively gives rise to a compromise between the right of an individual to personal liberty and ‘the obligation of police to investigate possible breaches of the criminal law’. In Bulsey, the concept of ‘reasonable suspicion’ was discussed and it can be seen that ‘reasonable suspicion’ acted as a control measure; it ensured the police were held liable for their actions when it was proven that they did not have reasonable suspicion. Goldie v Commonwealth defined ‘reasonable suspicion’ as ‘somewhere on a spectrum between certainty and irrationality’ and stressed that to prevent arbitrary use of power, ‘reasonable suspicion’ should lie far from irrationality. However, in 2010, there were proposed changes to certain states’ legislation where ‘reasonable suspicion’ was no longer a requirement for conducting a search. This represented a direct threat to the rule of law, as there was now a potential for arbitrary use of power. On a larger scale, it represented the risk of government bodies exercising arbitrary

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