High Court ruling on DV door kick under scrutiny

·2-min read

The NSW attorney-general has sought a departmental briefing following a judgment from Australia's highest court regarding laws made in "historical circumstances quite different from contemporary society" when domestic violence was kept behind closed doors.

However, the laws are complex and require careful analysis before reform could even be considered, a spokesman told AAP.

The High Court on Wednesday allowed a man's appeal against the decision of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, which concluded he broke into an apartment he had moved out of several weeks earlier despite remaining on the lease.

After kicking down the triple-locked door of the apartment at Queanbeyan on the NSW Southern Tablelands, he grabbed the woman inside by the shoulders, shook and yelled at her, and threw her phone on the floor as she tried to call for help.

The man pleaded guilty to common assault, intimidation and destruction of property in the NSW District Court but pleaded not guilty to a charge of break and enter and committing a serious indictable offence in circumstances of aggravation, which can carry up to 20 years jail.

He was acquitted of the break and enter, sparking an appeal by prosecutors that ordered a retrial, leading to an appeal to the highest court in Australia.

In a tight majority decision, four judges ruled the man did not commit a break and enter as he was still on the lease, but noted the complexities of laws made in "historical circumstances quite different from contemporary society, including when domestic and family violence was generally not treated as criminal".

Some jurisdictions have updated their laws.

"No such amendment or replacement of the older concepts has been undertaken by the NSW Parliament," the judges said.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Michael Daley told AAP in a statement on Thursday the High Court's judgment has been noted and the Department of Communities and Justice has been asked to prepare a briefing on the matters raised.

"This is a complex area of law and careful analysis would be required before consideration was given to any reform in this area," the spokesman said.

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