- Truth About Motorways Pty Ltd (Truth) sought a writ of prohibition against Macquarie Infrastructure Investment Management Ltd (Macquarie) to stop Macquarie from publishing a prospectus which called for investors in a new toll road in Sydney.
- Truth claimed that the prospectus was misleading as to the actual number of cars which would use the proposed toll road.
- Truth claimed that this was misleading under the (then) Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (Act).
- Truth sought an order for corrective advertising.
- Sections 80 and 163A of the Act allowed for “any other person” to bring proceedings – Macquarie disputed the validity of these provisions and submitted that Truth did not have standing to bring the proceedings.
- Were sections 80 and 163A of the Act invalid insofar as allowing Truth or “any other person” standing to bring proceedings?
- Did Truth have standing to seek the writ of prohibition against Macquarie?
- Some statutes provide for standing for “strangers”. This is in contrast to decisions such as ACF v Commonwealth or Ex parte McBain.
- Gleeson CJ and McHugh J considered that there are circumstances where Parliament may wish for “strangers” to have standing to challenge, without the “special interest” mandated by ACF v Commonwealth, in order to protect the public interest.
- Sections 80 and 163A of the Act were held to be valid.
“Although it has been suggested that a stranger could only obtain the remedy of prohibition at the discretion of a court (ex debito justitiae) it has never been doubted that, in a proper case, the remedy is available to a stranger, ie a person without standing in the sense of a special or personal interest.”
(Kirby J at page 162)
“It is not accurate to say that for all classes of proceedings the law required that the moving party have a real, or actual, or special interest in the outcome …an absence of a special interest, or of a particular grievance does not preclude a grant of prohibition or certiorari respectively. A stranger may seek habeas corpus and quo warranto may be granted at the suit of either the Attorney-General ex officio, or any other person.”
(Callinan J at page 211)
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