Court overturns paternity case
The Age, Australia, March 17, 2005
A man who sued his unfaithful ex-wife for falsely claiming two of her three children were his lost his damages payout on appeal in Melbourne today.
The Victorian Court of Appeal ruled that there was no evidence to show Meredith Magill, 37, had intended to deceive her then husband by making false representations on the children's birth certificates.
Liam Magill, 54, was awarded $70,000 in damages and costs by Victorian County Court Judge John Hanlon in November 2002.
Mrs Magill appealed the decision.
The couple were married in 1988 and separated in 1992.
DNA tests in 2000 showed Mr Magill was the biological father of only the first of Mrs Magill's three children, who were born between April 1989 and November 1991.
After the couple separated, Mr Magill made child support payments for all three children until 1999.
Mr Magill claimed he had suffered stress, anxiety and depression over the break-up of his marriage and the later revelation that he was not the father of all three children and has been unable to work for several years.
He claimed general damages and economic loss from his payment of child support.
Neither of the Magills attended court today.
Mr Magill's lawyer Vivien Mavropoulos said her client was still dealing with the emotional trauma of discovering the children were not his.
"He is very hurt and very ill, that's the reason he was not in court.
"It's been a hard blow and he is entitled to some peace."
A spokeswoman for Clayton Utz, who represented Mrs Magill, said she was very happy with outcome of her appeal.
In today's judgment, one of the three judges, Justice Frank Callaway said Mrs Magill's evidence at the County Court hearing had been "redolent of candour".
She had then told the County Court that she hadn't thought about "anything too hard" except getting the children's births registered and complying with a bureaucratic requirement.
It was the Appeal Court's view that at the time she filled in the birth registration forms, Mrs Magill had had no intention of deceiving her husband.
Justice Geoffrey Eames said Mr Magill had failed to establish that in incurring any expenses, he was induced by and relied upon the truth of the contents of the two birth certificates.