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AFSA Offence Referral Update

Recent updates to the Alleged Offence Referral to AFSA template now provide for the inclusion of details of any person (individual or corporate) acting on behalf of, or assisting, a bankrupt or debtor. This can include a spouse, child, friend, accountant or lawyer assisting a bankrupt in an informal capacity, as is often the case.

As trustees are aware, they have a duty under section 19(1)(i) of the Bankruptcy Act 1966 to refer to AFSA any evidence of an offence committed by a bankrupt. However, there are often circumstances where it is unclear whether there is sufficient evidence to support an offence referral. AFSA has available a Pre Referral Enquiry (“PRE”) program that is a convenient and efficient way to deal with such matters. PREs can be as simple as emailing AFSA with a summary of the circumstances and suspected offence/s and are particularly useful:

  1. for suspected trivial offences (e.g. failure to advise the trustee within 21 days of new employment) that do not impact on an administration;
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Costly Coal Spill in World Heritage Area

EPA v Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd; Chief Executive, Office of Environment & Heritage v Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd [2017] NSWLEC 82 per Robson J

Background

Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd (Clarence Colliery) operates a coal mine near Newnes Junction in the Blue Mountains area.  In July 2015 an overtopping incident occurred where 2,300 tonnes of coal escaped from a coal storage area and entered an unnamed watercourse, the Wollangambe River and the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park.

National Parks are declared for exceptional natural values and must be protected for future generations.

The EPA issued clean-up notices and oversaw a comprehensive clean-up of the coal material including over 44 inspections and over 600 helicopter trips to remove the coal from the river. The clean-up efforts cost more than $2M.

Offences

In EPA v Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd; Chief Executive, Office of Environment & Heritage v Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd [2017] NSWLEC 82, Clarence Colliery was prosecuted by the Environment Protection Authority for negligently causing the escape of a coal material that harmed the environment.  The two offences were under:
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