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Charisteas, G v Charisteas, Z V & Ors [2021] HCA 29

High Court of Australia
Kiefel CJ, Gageler, Keane, Gordon, Gleeson JJ

Charisteas, G v Charisteas, Z V & Ors

Judgment Date: 
6 October 2021

FAMILY LAW - Property settlements - Apprehended bias - Where husband and wife separated - Where husband commenced proceedings in Family Court of Western Australia seeking orders for settlement of property - Where Family Court made orders for settlement of property - Where orders provided for early vesting of trust and distribution of trust fund and income - Where early vesting orders set aside on appeal but not remitted for redetermination - Where different judge of Family Court ("trial judge") made new and inconsistent orders for settlement of property - Where wife's barrister engaged in private communication with trial judge, including while case underway and while judgment reserved, without previous knowledge and consent of other parties - Where wife's barrister said communications did not concern substance of case - Whether fair-minded lay observer might reasonably apprehend that trial judge might not bring impartial mind to decision - Whether Family Court retained power to make orders for settlement of property subject of early vesting orders.

WORDS AND PHRASES - "apprehended bias", "bias", "disclosure", "fair-minded lay observer", "final orders", "hypothetical observer", "independence and impartiality", "informed consent", "judicial practice", "private communications", "professional conduct", "property settlement", "public confidence in the judicial system", "reasonable apprehension of bias".

Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) - ss 79, 79A.