Environmental Law Australia

Frippery case

This case illustrates the importance of public (third party) rights to enforce conservation laws where government regulators refuse to act.

The background is explained in an affidavit of Dr Carol Booth, a conservationist who brought the case.

This case was one of three cases taken by Dr Booth to protect flying-foxes from being eletrocuted by fruit farmers. The two other cases are also the subject of separate case studies:

This case involved the operation of an electric grid on a property north of Townsville operated by a company, Frippery Pty Ltd.

A picture of the entrance to the farm and part of the electric grid are shown on the right of this page. The horizonal wires from the pole were electrified to form the electric grid used to electrocute flying-foxes that collided with it at night.

As explained in her affidavit, in 2003 Dr Booth investigated the killing of flying foxes on the farm and complained about this to the government agency responsible for enforcing the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld), under which flying foxes are protected.

When QPWS failed to take action, Dr Booth brought the proceedings in the Queensland Planning and Environment Court under open standing provided in the Nature Conservation Act for proceedings to restrain offences against the Act.

A number of original court documents, such as consent and directions orders, are included in the key documents below to show the mechanics of the application and the appeal.

At the first trial in 2005 in Townsville, Pack DCJ dismissed the application.

This decision was overturned on appeal and the Court of Appeal ordered the case be re-heard by a different judge. The hearing of the re-trial was transferred to Brisbane.

At the second trial in 2007 in Brisbane, Robin QC DCJ granted the application and ordered the grids be dismantled. An application for leave to appeal against this decision was dismissed for failing to comply with the Court of Appeal’s directions on the conduct of the application.

In 2008 contempt proceedings were lodged for an alleged failure to comply with the Court’s order to dismantle the electric grids. The respondents were found guilty of contempt and fined $5000.

Key documents

Originating Application

Maps and photographs of farm

Interim orders

First trial

First appeal

Second trial

Second appeal

  • Order of the Court of Appeal dismissing an Application for Leave to Appeal.

Contempt proceedings

Federal Court proceedings

In response to this litigation the lychee farmers applied to the Federal Court to restrain the applicant in the Queensland courts, Dr Booth, and her solicitors from undertaking the litigation. The lychee farmers also sought $1,000,000 damages against Dr Booth and her solicitors for undertaking the litigation in the Queensland courts.

The solicitors applied to have the proceedings in the Federal Court struck-out on the basis that they are frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of process. At the hearing of the strike-out application the lychee farmers sought to discontinue the proceedings. Collier J allowed the proceedings to be discontinued but awarded costs on an indemnity basis.

Key documents in the Federal Court proceedings are: