|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Government World Community Disorder|
I was privileged to visit Melbourne Magistrate Courts on Monday (3rd of September in 2018). The court is located at 223 Williams Street, Melbourne to hear the case of Mr. Anton Antonelli vs Yarra City Council on Rooming House Persecution. The presiding judge was Mr. Peter Lauritsen. The nature of the case is a civil offense. It involves Mr. Antonelli who is keeping tenants in his house upstairs, and conducting the rooming house business, and has not yet registered with the Yarra City Council as stipulated in the public health, and well-being act 2008. The council has taken the landlord for not registering his business. The defense team was led by Lawyer Herbert Smith, and the accusing team was fronted by Mr. Clayton Linklaters. Mr. Antonelli's defense lawyer was a private solicitor, who had extensive knowledge in handling cases in the residential business. While the plaintiff had a barrister in their defense team.
The Court Proceedings
During the court proceedings there are several participants who lay different roles in the courtroom. The magistrate will determine what happens in the case of Mr. Antonelli vs. Yarra City Council regarding Rooming House Persecution. He or she will determine whether the case will progress further to another court or be called off until a later day. Based on the shreds of evidence that will be presented by the defense team, the magistrate is able to determine whether Mr. Antonelli is guilty or not. A barrister is also present and plays the role of present the defense or prosecution case in the court. He or she will present the case before the magistrate who will later set the date of hearing. On the hearing date, Mr. Antonelli will be represented in the court by a Defense Solicitor or Duty Solicitor in case the defendant does not have a solicitor. He or she will present the evidence or witnesses who provide their statements regarding the case. The plaintiff, in this case, is Yarra City Council. Registrar or deputy registrar will assist individuals at a court counter. In magistrate courts there is a bench clerk who will direct witnesses and accused individuals where to stand, read the charge sheet, and administer the oath or affirmation to witnesses. The Prosecutor presents the case against the defendant in a courtroom.
The kinds of interactions between the prosecuting attorney and the witnesses who came to contribute in the court were formal. When Mr. Tammy Mount asked Mr. Ryan King whether he had known that the defendant runs a rooming house business, he stated that he used to stay on his property nearly three years. Whenever a room is vacant, he would always advertise the accommodation, and upon getting a client he would first introduce the individual to other occupants, if they are comfortable, he would offer him or her a chance to rent his house (Westmore, 2013. p.38). The Council building stated that he had done the initial inspection, and identified no smoke alarm fitted in the individual room, also underscored that each room doors had a locker.
The Environmental Health Officer confirmed that had a locker. However, there was a hostile conversation between the plaintiff's lawyer and the defendant's lawyer since they were both trying to iron out their point for their workers. For instance, the plaintiff's lawyer said that "according to the dictates outlined in the public health and wellbeing act and regulation, a proprietor of the prearranged abode (rooming house) must in agreement with Division 4, register that accommodation with the council in the municipal district where the accommodation is located In a heated response, the defense lawyer stated that "his client did not advertise his premise as rent a room, rather he was just saying offering a share accommodation to new clients" (Tually, Beer, and McLoughlin, 2011. pp. 30-38). A share accommodation simply means that each member living in the same premise as jointly liable for the rent payments, and other obligations of the contract. However, it should not be treated as a new business rather it is an existing room house business that was already registered (Alexander, 2004. p. 74). Passive acceptance was regularly uttered in apathetic answers from the defendant in an interview in the courtroom;
Interviewer: How did you feel when you were making your statement?
Mr. Antonelli: How would anyone feel, really?
Interviewer: Can you recall what your defense counsel said in mitigation...?
Mr. Antonelli: Not really.
Interviewer: And could you recall what the magistrate said when making their statement?
Mr. Antonelli: No; I just recall what sentence he pointed at me.
Interviewer: At sentencing, can you recall what the prosecuting attorney said about the offense?
Mr. Antonelli: They just made a decision that I was guilty of running the rooming house business in the Yarra City Council zone without having council registration.
In reference to the public health and wellbeing act 2008 section 3, states that any premises used as a place of residence, whether momentary or permanent, where the occupant pays a rent as per the contract is considered as a rooming business and should be registered health council in the district where the accommodation is located (Douglas, and Laster, 1992, pp. 80-84). The same act in 2009, part 5 states that the categories of accommodation that fall under this act include; residential accommodation, hotels, and motels, hotels, student dormitories, rooming houses, holiday camps, where accommodation is shared should be registered (Consumer Affairs Victory, 2019. Pp. 45-50). After reviewing keenly, the contents of the public health and wellbeing act, and Residential Tenancies Act of 1997, the Melbourne Magistrate court concluded that Mr. Antonelli was guilty to run the rooming business in Yarra City Council area without registering with the council (Kirby, Jacobson, and Hunter, 2014. pp. 5-8). According to the act failure to register a rooming house business with the council will result in a fine of 10 penalty units.
The case between Yarra City Council v. MFB. (2017) on the cost of legal contamination relates in some aspects with the case of Mr. Anton Antonelli vs Yarra City Council on Rooming House Persecution (O'Brien, 2017. n.p). Since both cases fall under the public health and wellbeing act. In the case of Mr. Antonelli, he needed to have his premise inspected, registered and approved for public health and safety reason of the four tenants. In the other case, the court maintained that Yarra City Council was guilty of the pollution caused by Richmond before the transfer of its liable obligations to the Council. Upon purchasing, and getting planning approval for the land from the Council, the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board installed a tar distilling plant with a 40,000-gallon blue stone-lined storage pit. However, there was an outbreak of fire that gutted and damaged the plant in 1959. Yarra City Council were supposed to comply with the Environment Protection Act to clean-up the industrial waste or hazardous substance that existed before the selling the land (Sthiannopkao, and Wong, 2013. pp. 1148-1152). Nevertheless, the MFESB complied with the clean-up notice and later on sued the council for alleged negligence.
The following issues were to be determined during the trial: the supervision of demolition work by a contractor, the alleged lack of particularity of the MFESB's pollution allegation (O'Brien, 2017. n.p). The effects of representations of the MFB's planning consultants. Hence the court held a premature declaration that they would be liable to compensate the MFESB. Both cases are similar since they are civil offenses where the guilty party fails to comply with the respective acts (O'Brien, 2017. n.p). In this case Yarra failed to comply with the EPA to clean up the industrial waste in the land since they were the original owners of the land. In the Rooming House Persecution case, Mr. Antonelli failed to register his rooming business with the public health and wellbeing act of 2009 (O'Brien, 2017. n.p).
Prior to entering the courtroom, I was filled with chills due to the new environment I was within. I was filled with so many expectations that I would be entering in a big courtroom where the proceeding would be aired on the Television, however everything was totally wrong. While entering the first person I saw was the judge sited at the center, and the defendant's witnesses being questioned by the prosecuting counsel. However, what pleased me is the fact that the court allowed the public to present themselves on behalf of the plaintiff, and defendant if there were any disputes. The ruling was made by a bench of twelve juries after clearly scrutinizing the evidence brought before the court which was a sign of fairness and unbiases in the courtroom (Kirby, Jacobson, and Hunter, 2014 pp.7-8).The room was filled with few people, though I later came to understand that most people who were allowed to enter the courtroom had a role to play. Also present was a bailiff, and another security guard who stood in the back of the courtroom by the exit. Three attorneys sat at the right table representing Yarra City Council, and two at the left table represented the defendant.
In the court, there was also some light moments, and atmosphere contrary to what I had expected to see, as the attorneys on both sides mingled, and shared tales of cases they had already handled on past occasions (Anleu, Mack, and Tutton, 2014. p. 621). When the jury entered to make the verdict after the recess of two hours, the whole room was silent, and the aura of anticipation became palpable. They made a conclusion that Mr. Antonelli was guilty of running a rooming business in Yarra City Council area without registering with the council. My final and greatest takeaway from this experience was the realization of how much time is devoted during a civil trial to ensure the rights of the defendants are being respected (Kirby, Jacobson, and Hunter, 2014 pp. 3-5).
Alexander, P., 2004. Great Expectations: In Pursuit of Legislative Reform for Boarders in NSW. Parity, 17(1), p.76.
Anleu, S.R., Mack, K. and Tutton, J., 2014. Judicial humor in the Australian courtroom. Melb. UL Rev., 38, p.621. Retrieved from: https://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1586995/382RoachAnleuMackandTutton2.pdf
Consumer Affairs Victory., 2019. Rooming houses: A guide for residents and operators. pp. 1-150. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/Rooming%20houses%20a%20guide%20for%20residents%20and%20operators%20(2).pdf
Douglas, R.N. and Laster, K., 1992. Reforming the People's Court: Victorian Magistrates' Reaction to Change. The Authors. pp. 1-104. Retrieved from: http://crg.aic.gov.au/reports/13-90.pdf
Kirby, A., Jacobson, J., and Hunter, G., 2014. Effective participation or passive acceptance: How can defendants participate more effectively in the court process? Howard League Working Paper. pp. 1-14. Retrieved from: https://howardleague.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/HLWP_9_2014_2.pdf
O'Brien, L., 2017. Yarra City Council v. MFECB: The cost of Legacy Contamination. Retrieved from: https://corrs.com.au/insights/yarra-city-council-v-mfb-the-cost-of-legacy-contamination
Sthiannopkao, S. and Wong, M.H., 2013. Handling e-waste in developed and developing countries: Initiatives, practices, and consequences. Science of the Total Environment, 463, pp.1147-1153. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969712009217
Tually, S., Beer, A. and McLoughlin, P., 2011. Housing assistance, social inclusion and people living with a disability. pp. 1-64. Retrieved from: https://hekyll.services.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/2440/73164/1/hdl_73164.pdf
Westmore, T., 201...
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