• The Federal Court will hear the Angel Flight application in Melbourne. (Google Earth image)
    The Federal Court will hear the Angel Flight application in Melbourne. (Google Earth image)

The Federal Court in Melbourne last week barred Angel Flight from using certain CASA internal e-mails in the case against the regulator's Letter of Demand sent to pilots, forcing the organisation to withdraw their application.

Angel Flight had taken CASA to court over letters sent to pilots and aircraft owners demanding details of operations conducted under Angel Flight's banner.

The organisation was attempting to have pilots relieved from having to comply with the letters because they were issued for  "improper purpose".

Angel Flight relied on four internal CASA e-mails to support their case, e-mails which had been supplied to them in the discovery phase of their primary case against CASA to be heard next March.

However, CASA objected to Angel Flight using the e-mails on the basis that they were disclosed only for the primary case and invoked the rule against using them for another purpose.

"We needed those emails to support our case for Improper Purpose," Angel Flight CEO Marjorie Pagani told Australian Flying. "One would have thought that CASA should be the model litigant, as it is required to be as a regulator, and support transparency. Allowing use of their internal emails would have done that.  

"Instead they insisted they not be used and invoked the rule that they should only be used for their discovered purpose. As a consequence we cannot use or publish them so therefore have had to discontinue the Improper Purpose case."

Responding to the accusation that they have failed to be an model litigant, a CASA spokesperson said that their action in blocking the e-mails was consistent with that requirement.

"CASA has acted strictly in accordance with its ‘model litigant’ obligations," the spokesperson said. "To be clear, doing so most certainly does not include countenancing another party’s failure to comply with their legal obligations to the court.

"Neither the court nor the other party saw any basis on which a dubious ‘model litigant’ issue might have been raised in the hearing; and as the obligation is incorporated in the Legal Services Directions, which are made under the Judiciary Act, this is certainly something the court would have been alive to, if it were at all pertinent.

"In short, the documents were excluded because the court found their introduction failed to serve the interests of justice."

The e-mails in question were sent in 2018-19 between CASA Executive Director Legal and Regulatory Affairs Jonathan Aleck, Executive Direction National Operations and Standards Chris Monahan, Director of Aviation Safety Shane Carmody and Executive Manager Stakeholder Engagement Rob Walker.

Angel Flight has said it will use the e-mails in its primary case against CASA to be heard next March, which is an attempt to have the regulations surrounding community service flights struck out.

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