Industry Update

High Court rules in favour of ABCC on personal payment orders

The High Court of Australia confirmed the Federal Court can order a union official to personally pay a penalty and not seek reimbursement or indemnity from the union in February 2018.

Up until this decision, the union could pay the fines or penalties of any representative found to have contravened the law.

The decision paves the way for personal payment orders to be made in appropriate cases.

In 2016, the Federal Court imposed penalties against the CFMEU and its official Joseph Myles for his unlawful blockade of the taxpayer-funded $4.3 billion Regional Rail Link project site, which prevented the delivery of concrete to the site and caused tonnes of wastage.

The primary judge found that there was “a conscious and deliberate strategy by the CFMEU and its officers to engage in disruptive, threatening and abusive behaviour towards employers without regard to the lawfulness of that action, and impervious to the prospect of prosecution and penalties".

The proceeding has now returned to the Full Federal Court for a re-determination of penalties against Mr Myles, including whether he should be ordered to pay any penalty personally.

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