High Profile Australian case on Paternity Fraud, Deceit and the chances of compensation to the duped father.
Ms Magill had made false representations in the course of the marriage concerning the paternity of children born during the marriage.
DNA testing after the marriage ended revealed two children of the marriage were not the biological children of Mr Magill.
At issue in these proceedings was the notion of paternity fraud, and whether the tort of deceit can be applied in a marital context in relation to false representations of paternity.
Liam Magill – duped into believing his youngest two children were biologically his.
Once finding out that he was not the father of his two youngest children, and his ex-wife aware that he was likely not the father, he sued, launching a case for deceit in the Victorian County Court, claiming damages for personal injury in the form of anxiety and depression resulting from fraudulent misrepresentations.
He also claimed financial loss, including loss of earning capacity by reason of his psychiatric problems and expenditure on the children under the mistaken belief he was their father, plus exemplary damages.
The County Court awarded him $70,000 from his ex-wife, including $30,000 for general pain and suffering, $35,000 for past economic loss and $5,000 for future economic loss.
The County Court found Ms Magill’s presentation of the birth registration forms to Mr Magill constituted the deceitful representation by Ms Magill that he was the father.
But the Victorian Court of Appeal reversed that decision on grounds that Mr Magill had failed to establish the essential elements of the offence of deceit.
He then appealed to the High Court, which delivered its decision against him.
Published on August 18, 2020, Jacob Romano – CEO, Family Law Press
(pseudonym Lilley & Logan)