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False imprisonment

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New South Wales v Williamson [2012] HCA 57. French CJ & Hayne J, Kiefel J agreeing separately.

[7] By special leave the State now appeals to this Court. These reasons will show that the costs limiting provisions of Div 9 of Pt 3.2 of the 2004 Legal Profession Act apply if the amount recovered on a claim for personal injury damages does not exceed $100,000, whether that claim is framed in negligence or as an intentional tort. In particular, contrary to the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeal, s 338(1) should not be construed as confined in its operation to claims that might result in awards to which Pt 2 of theLiability Act would apply. 

[8] These reasons will further show, however, that the Court of Appeal was right to hold that the costs limiting provisions did not apply in this case. The respondent received a lump sum settlement of his District Court proceedings for trespass to the person and false imprisonment.

At least to the extent to which the claim for false imprisonment seeks damages for deprivation of liberty and loss of dignity, it is not a claim for damages for personal injury.

Because no part of the lump sum settlement can be attributed to either the respondent's claim for trespass or his claim for false imprisonment, it is not possible to say of the amount that was recovered that it was "recovered on a claim for personal injury damages". 

Crennan & Bell JJ dissented.


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