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What is the definition of a Criminal Organisation?

What is the definition of a Criminal Organisation?

What is the definition of a Criminal Organisation?

At the heart of the common law tradition is “a method of administering justice”.  That method requires judges who are independent of government to preside over courts held in public in which each party has a full opportunity to present its own case and to meet the case against it.  Antithetical to that tradition is the idea of a court, closed to the public, in which only one party, a government party, is present, and in which the judge is required by law to hear evidence and argument which neither the other party nor its legal representatives is allowed to hear. (Chief Justice French, Assistant Commissioner Michael James Condon v Pompano Pty Ltd [2013] HCA 7, [1]).

On 14 March 2013, the High Court handed down its decision in Condon v Pompano Pty Ltd.  That decision concerned the Criminal Organisation Act 2009 (Qld) (“COA”) and its interpretation.  The COA, otherwise known as the Anti-Bikie Act, was used in this case to attempt to curtail the activities of the Finks Motorcycle Club, Gold Coast Chapter.  The Club argued that the COA was unconstitutional insofar that, by law, it required the Supreme Court to hear evidence in closed court and without members of the Club being there.

The Court was quite lengthy in its reasons, but the ratio of the decision is quite simple:  The Supreme Court might be required to hear evidence in the absence of the Respondents and in closed court, but the Court was still required to apply the rules of evidence and natural justice.

In yet another swipe at the New South Wales law, the various judgments all implicitly acknowledged that Kable remained the poster child for these laws.  Short of an Act of Parliament requiring a Court on Application to make a certain order (for example, for the indefinite detention of Gregory Wayne Kable…), it is quite difficult for a State Legislature to tread on the constitutional toes of the High Court.

The Queensland Parliament has set the bar low on these matters – a criminal organisation has been legally defined as a group of 3 or more members who singularly or collectively engage in criminal activity.

For more info on this case contact one of our professional Litigation solicitors on 1300 HATZIS (1300 428 947) or email

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