Oath taker or Oath breaker?

The case of Re Culleton [2016] FCA 1193 concerned an application by Senator Rodney Culleton for orders, effectively, that creditors who had obtained judgment against Mr Culleton be restrained from taking any further action in respect of their judgments.

Mr Culleton contended that he has been denied a remedy and appeal from the decision of Judge Curthoys of the District Court of Western Australia as:

Judges in the courts in Western Australia have not since 2005 been taking an Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second and as such their judgments, sentences of imprisonment, possession orders in favour of mortgagees, and allegations of contempt of court are at least voidable, if not void.

In formulating his argument Mr Culleton:

  • referred to the heading in Chapter III of the Constitution dealing with courts adjudicating disputes between Australian subjects, and suggested that new rules will be necessary to deal with his grievance;
  • referred to the teachings of Henry J Abraham in his treatise The Judicial Process: An Introductory Analysis of the Courts of the United States, England, and France (Oxford University Press, 1962)’;
  • made the point that the executive government of the Commonwealth ‘adopted the UNIDROIT Treaty with Rome’ in 1973. In reliance on that ‘Treaty’, Mr Culleton referred to the allegiance to the United Nations, and said that by taking the oath of allegiance, every judge is likewise bound, as is the Queen, by the ‘Holy Gospels’; and
  • said that the words of the Holy Bible must be taken into consideration in finding the true meaning of a provision of an Act. One example of a biblical passage that Mr Culleton said is relevant is from ‘the King James version of the Holy Bible bearing the royal seal of [the Queen] … in the chapter of Matthew 7, verse 1’, which reads ‘Judge not that thou shalt not be judged’.

In rejecting Mr Culleton’s arguments, His Honour McKerracher J stated at [27]:

So it follows that the argument which Mr Culleton would seek to advance to support the relief for which he contends today is entirely erroneous, and these matters can have no effect on the judgment obtained in the District Court of Western Australia or the decisions of the Court of Appeal made thereafter, or, indeed, if there be one, as Mr Culleton understands that there is, a current appeal to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

His Honour concluded at [31]:

In short, I am satisfied that the substantive argument which would underlie any application as presently framed for urgent relief today is entirely unarguable and this Court does not have jurisdiction or power to make the orders sought and, in any event, in the circumstances I have described even if I did have the jurisdiction or power, I am not satisfied that discretion should be exercised to make those orders. In those circumstances, the application by Mr Culleton for urgent relief will be dismissed with costs.

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