Cribb v Bell [2012] WASC 346

The plaintiff (the liquidator of Costanoza Pty Ltd) issued a summons for the examination of Mr Carl William Bell, but the respondent challenged the authority of the registrar and refused to take an oath or affirmation, or to answer questions on two separate examinations, and didn’t appear for the third. On the fourth attempt, in Cribb v Bell [2012] WASC 346, the respondent handed up a document entitled ‘Notification of Constitutional issue to be raised in the Supreme Court of Western Australia on 18th of September 2012 in accordance with section 78B of the Judiciary Act Commonwealth’, which challenged the ability of a registrar to sit as a Court and make judgments, alleged the registrar and the judge were not officers of the crown but employees of a company, and that the Supreme Court of Western Australia “….sits under state acts (not laws) and statutes not Chapter III of the Commonwealth Constitution Act 1900.” The court held that the ‘constitutional issues’ sought to be raised were entirely devoid of legal merit and do not give rise to any constitutional issue, and the application to set aside the examination summons was dismissed.

“It is well-established that a contention that is trivial, unarguable, frivolous or vexatious does not involve a matter arising under the Constitution or involving its interpretation. If the alleged constitutional issue is unarguable or vexatious, there is in truth no constitutional issue at all: Shaw v Jim McGinty in his capacity as Attorney General [2006] WASCA 231 [42]; O’Connell v The State of Western Australia [2012] WASCA 96 [90]. The matters asserted by Mr Bell, in his notification of constitutional issue document, involve contentions which have been repeatedly held to be completely devoid of legal merit. In Hedley v Spivey [2012] WASCA 116 [7], McLure P (Buss & Mazza JJA agreeing) listed numerous decisions in which these grounds and variants of them have been held to be without merit.”

Click to access cribb-v-bell-2012-wasc-346.pdf

Mr Bell applied for a stay of the examination in Bell v Cribb [2012] WASCA 234, on the grounds the judge erred in law by failing to exercise the suspension required pursuant to Section 78B of the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth). The court held that the decision of the primary judge was indubitably correct, and no purpose would be served by granting a stay.

Click to access bell-v-cribb-2012-wasca-234.pdf

The appellant applied for a review of the decision in to refuse a stay in Bell v Cribb [2013] [No 2] WASCA 6, but did not demonstrate any error in the decision, and the application was dismissed. The plaintiffs claimed to own a number of vehicles and other assets that they complain were wrongly taken by the Liquidator, and made a series of assertions about the illegality and unconstitutionality of some of the things which have already occurred, and of fraudulent and illegal conduct on the part of the Liquidator. In Bell v Cribb [2013] WASC 32, the Liquidator applied for leave to sell the assets, and applied for summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ claim, and on the Liquidator’s counterclaim, but Mr Bell had been made bankrupt earlier that morning, so parts of the counterclaim and other applications were adjourned pending advice from the Trustee in Mr Bell’s bankruptcy, which was completed in Bell v Neil Raymond Cribb as Liquidator of Costanoza Pty Ltd (in Liq) [No 2] [2013] WASC 104. The applicant appealed this decision in Bell v Cribb [2013] WASCA 159 without success.