Victoria U law student wins against exclusion 

In Durney v Victoria University & Ors [2014] VSC 161, Garde, J. of the Supreme Court of Victoria (11 April 2014) decided that Paul Durney, a law student excluded for alleged disruptive actions complaining about noise in the University Law Library, had been denied procedural fairness and natural justice.

The University alleged that Mr Durney, (who in dealing with the University in connection with his complaint indicated “...he was suffering from significant health issues”), had “..behaved inappropriately in a number of incidents” arising from the manner in which he prosecuted his complaint about noise levels in the Law Library.

The University sent two separate letters to Mr Durney. The second letter from the Vice-Chancellor indicated that he was giving consideration to the exclusion of Mr Durney from the University premises and requested that he respond within 7 days. Mr Durney did so.

Subsequently, the Vice Chancellor advised Mr Durney in a letter dated 19 October 2012 that he had been excluded from the University premises. Following a request by Mr Durney’s legal representatives, the Vice-Chancellor provided a statement of reasons for the decision dated 19 December 2012.

The statement of reasons listed 27 reports, statements and emails that the Vice-Chancellor had considered in making his decision. Of these, 7 were emails or letters sent by Mr Durney. Garde, J. stated “It was not suggested that any of the other twenty documents had been sighted by Mr Durney pior to the exclusion decision”. 

It appears that the approach taken by the University to treat the decision as purely an administrative one, without considering that it was a decision affecting rights of Mr Durney, meant that the requirements of procedural fairness and natural justice were not appropriately observed. Mr Durney “ ..had no opportunity to deal with relevant matters found in the twenty documents”.

Accordingly, the Vice-Chancellor’s exclusion decision was “…invalid and of no effect”.

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