• Laura Falkner

Why I Love Quirky Cases


Our law degrees are peppered with cases that involve quirky facts and random events. I often find that these cases help to make the long hours of tedious reading not quite so nap-worthy and substantially more interesting. An added bonus is that the truly quirky cases help to make ideas and principles much easier to remember!

Here are some of my favourite unusual cases…

Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Co v Taylor (1937) 58 CLR 479

I love the outrageous behaviour of Taylor who went to the effort of building a platform to view the races and participate in off track betting from the comfort of his own home. Even more surprisingly, he won and got to keep his platform.

Balfour v Balfour [1919] 2 KB 571

Another tale of colourful characters, this case involved an odd wife who wanted her husband to continue to pay her to live apart from him…

Queensland Mines Ltd v Hudson (1978) 18 ALR 1

The quirk of this case involves a managing director who successfully defends the company’s claim of profits earned by the fact that when the disclosure was made to the board, the board happened to have the only two shareholders in the company on it… luck or coincidence?

McRae v Commonwealth Disposals Commission (1951) 84 CLR 377

A case where a shipwreck was sold… but there was actually no shipwreck.

Kable v Director of Public Prosecutions (NSW) (1996) 189 CLR 51

In this case the government attempted to pass a bill that only impacted one man. They may have had more success if they had not detailed in the act that it was to apply to Gregory Wayne Kable. Imagine having your name exclusively in a bill!

Giumelli v Giumelli (1999) 196 CLR 101

Simply quirky because it reminds me a little of Romeo and Juliet. The parents in this case didn’t want their son to remarry and decided that he would not get the house and land they had promised him if they did. Unlike in Shakespeare’s classic the boy and girl instead took the parents to court and won.

Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] UKHL 100

No list would be complete without this case. The disgusting fact that a decomposed snail was hiding in the bottom of Ms Donoghue’s bottle of ginger beer sounds almost like a story by the same person who wrote of an old lady who swallowed a fly.

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