Australian Crime Commission V Stoddart: The End of Common Law Spousal Privilege
AbstractIn Australian Crime Commission v Stoddart (2011) 282 ALR 620 the High Court held that a privilege against spousal incrimination does not exist at common law. This means that at common law a spouse can no longer invoke a privilege to refuse to answer a question, the answer to which may risk incriminating her or his spouse. This case note provides a brief outline of the key issue and the case, and an in-depth summary of the three High Court judgments. Finally, a short comment on the significance of the decision is provided, as well as an argument that the Court should have considered the policy justification behind the supposed privilege before deciding not to recognise it.
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