O’Hagan v Commissioner of Taxation [2020] QDC 288

In O’Hagan v Commissioner of Taxation [2020] QDC 288 the applicant was found guilty after a summary trial of four offences of failing when and as required pursuant to a taxation law to give a return to the Commissioner of Taxation. The appellant appealed his conviction and sentence on grounds that included the Magistrates Court did not have jurisdiction or lawful authority to hear and decide the proceeding because the court was not Corum Judice, and the court was not a Chapter 3 court under the Constitution, that the Australian Tax Office is not a legal entity,  that the documentary evidence tendered by the prosecution was not English because words in upper case, bold type, italicised, framed in a text box, etc. are foreign and uncapable of being read and/or understood as English, and that the magistrate’s sentencing order was contrary to s 115 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (Cth) by permitting the state to coin money, and not legal tender contrary to s 16 of the and the Currency Act 1965 (Cth). The court noted:

“In these circumstances, the lack of legal knowledge is undoubtedly a misfortune for any lay litigant appearing in person, but it should not be seen as a privilege.  This is all the more challenging when ignorance of the law and procedural matters are overlayed with unconventional beliefs.  For reasons which remain unclear to me, the appellant has a deep rooted but apparent genuine and firm belief that, amongst other things, the Australian Government and it subordinate bodies and beings are illegitimate, the laws of Australia are confined to Norfolk Island being the only place uninhabited at the time of federation and terra nullius, the Australia Act 1986 (Cth) is invalid, the Magna Carta is Common Law and is part of the Law of Australia, taxation is a voluntary system and he is unwilling to volunteer his money due to poor government expenditure, The Chicago Manual of Style published by the Chicago University is the definitive authority on the proper usage of English and that non-compliance renders the language foreign and incapable of being read, witnesses’ evidence was not independent and tainted because they were paid to give evidence as employees of the Australian Taxation Office, a right to a jury of peers and purported adjudication by judge alone constitutes an offence of unlawful slavery if the appellant, and he is by self-appointment principal and executor with sole rights to use the name of MARK LESLIE O’HAGAN demanding five hundred thousand dollars per infringement.

I have done my best to learn and understand the merits of the appellant’s arguments to ensure a fair and full review of the case.  For the most part, the appellant’s assertions could be considered a nonsense in conventional society, foreign to Australian law and verging on the bizarre, and whilst very interesting, they are well beyond the scope of this proceeding and role of this court.”

The Chicago Manual of Style

“The defendant relies upon the fact that English is the official language of Australia and that The Chicago Manual of Style is definitive of the language.  It does seem to be a 1104-page venerable, time-tested guide to style, usage, and grammar. This ground of appeal is misguided.  It seems to me that it is a mere manual of style to guide consistency of style for writers, editors, proof-readers, indexers, copywriters, designers, and publishers, informing the editorial canon with sound, definitive advice – this is distinct from being definitive of the English language itself.  The language is that understood of the ordinary use and meaning of the language in conventional society, and even if written in a different style, with poor grammar or punctuation, or syntax, or slang, the court will resort to acceptance principles of interpretation and common usage to determine the ordinary meaning of the words in the community. In this case, all documents were in English and readily understood. They were properly admitted by the magistrate pursuant to s 69 of the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth).”

Click to access ohagan-v-commissioner-of-taxation-2020-qdc-288.pdf