Friday, 21 June 2013

Personal responsibility

I was interested in Janet Albrechtsen's piece in the Australian drawing attention to the High Court's recent decision in Kakavas v Crown Melbourne Limited.  This was the case where a high roller sued Crown for money that he'd lost at the casino, arguing that he was a problem gambler and was at a "special disadvantage" and that Crown had engaged in unconscionable conduct.

It was good to see that the High Court had little difficulty in unanimously dismissing the appeal.   I say this not out of feelings towards casinos, but because it was clearly the right outcome from a legal perspective. The Court made it clear that it would not interfere to relieve parties from the consequences of improvident transactions or risk laden activity, conducted at arm's length in the ordinary and undistinguished course of lawful business.

While the Court said that some gamblers may be able to argue victimisation (such as a widowed pensioner who cashes her pension cheque at the casino), in relation to this case it said, "To describe the business of a casino as the victimisation of gamblers who choose to frequent it might well make sense in moral or social terms depending on one's moral or social philosophy;   but it does not make a lot of sense so far as the law is concerned, given that the conduct of the business is lawful".

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