Arthur’s Seat Scenic Chairlift Pty Ltd v The Queen  VSCA 269
This was an appeal from the sentence of a County Court judge in an Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985 (Vic) matter. It concerned an incident on 18 March 2004 when a passenger on the Arthur’s Seat Scenic Chairlift was struck when the chair she was riding in slid down and collided with the rear of the next chair. The passenger sustained compound fractures of her legs.
At the County Court at the first day of trial the company pleaded guilty. The trial judge imposed a fine of $110,000.00.
The company appealed on the grounds that the fine amount was excessive. The fine amount was reduced on appeal to $60,000.00 on appeal.
The maximum penalty which could have been imposed was $250,000.00. The primary point during the case appears to have been whether the judge had improperly acceded to the prosecutor’s suggestion that the offence was in the middle of the range. The Court of Appeal held that the sentencing court was not bound by anything the prosecutor said as to sentence and what really needed to be determined was the moral culpability attaching to the offence. Of significance was the good record of the company, which had been operating for over 44 years without incident. The court also focused on the financial circumstances of the company which had been only a marginal business for several years and was important for the local economy.