Chebli v Insurance Australia Ltd t/as NRMA Insurance Ltd
 NSWSC 261
A recent judgment of the NSW Supreme Court upheld the decision
of a local court magistrate to disregard a party's evidence,
where the party's overall account was considered 'less than
In Chebli v Insurance Australia, Ms Chebli claimed that
her Mercedes was stolen from her home. NRMA Insurance rejected the
comprehensive motor vehicle insurance claim, on the basis that it
Ms Chebli then brought a breach of contract case against NRMA in
the Bankstown Local Court. The magistrate found in favour of NRMA
Insurance on the basis that the Ms Chebli was unable to
demonstrate, on the balance of probabilities, that the vehicle was
stolen from the place and in the timeframe alleged. The magistrate
rejected Ms Chebli's evidence as being 'less than
Ms Chebli appealed this decision, on the basis that the
magistrate failed to consider a relevant piece of evidence. In the
original proceedings, a forensic locksmith referred to three
methods by which the car could have been stolen. The magistrate
only made reference to the first two methods in his judgment.
The third method involved starting the car 'using a
correctly coded electronic key', meaning two original keys that
are kept at the Mercedes factory for a particular car. Ms Chebli
argued that the third method could have led to an inference in her
favour, and that the magistrate had made an error in law by failing
to consider that method.
On appeal, the Court concluded that if the third method could be
considered a likely method by which the car was stolen (and this
was not the case Ms Chebli ran at trial), the magistrate would have
had to accept Ms Chebli's evidence as being truthful.
The Court agreed with the findings of the magistrate. Due to Ms
Chebli's lack of truthfulness and candour, the possibility that
Ms Chebli or her husband started the car themselves was not
excluded. Consequently, the factual basis of the third method could
not be made out and it did not need to be considered.
The magistrate's decision was found to have been correct,
and Ms Chebli's claim against the insurer failed.
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This was an interlocutory decision about the appointment of a tutor for the child appellant, to carry on his proceedings.
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