Christopher McKeown LL.B.  M.C.I.L.T.  
Barrister

Civil Aviation Amendment Act 2003 - Effective dates and important amendments:

The above Act was assented to on 21 October 2003. This Act amended the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988. Put very briefly, these amendments brought into law the automatic stay provisions in the AAT, the requirement that CASA must go to the Federal Court within 5 days of suspending a person's licence or authority (See previous article – fit and proper person), Voluntary Enforceable Undertakings (VEUs), the Demerit Points Scheme and abolishes the Board.

The above amendments are set out in Schedule 1 of the mentioned Amending Act. There are some varying dates on which the amendments come into effect. The Board has gone effective on Royal assent. However, there is a period of four months before the new AAT stay provisions, the Federal Court 5 days “serious and imminent risk to air safety” applications, the VEUs Scheme and the Demerits Scheme come into effect. So come 21 February 2004, these new systems and schemes will be upon us.

Of important interest is the fact that there is a Second Schedule to the mentioned Amending Act. Schedule 2 has two items. The first repeals the old Regulation 268. But wait – not until the new schemes come into effect above ie 21 February 2004. The second item is a beauty and is very significant. No longer will CASA be able on their opinion alone, to cancel a licence or authority on the basis that it believes a person may have breached the Act or a Regulation, and this was effective as from Royal assent. CASA must first obtain a conviction from a Court of Law before they can rely on paragraph (1) of Regulation 269. This is an excellent amendment and should make cancellations much fairer. However, a breach of the Regulations is generally now easier to prove following the amendments to the Regulations making most breaches offences of “strict liability”. These “strict liability” amendments came into force on 6 August 2003.  

© C. P. McKeown - November 2003