Nixon v. Philip Morris (Australia) Ltd & Ors

This was a representative action against 6 large tobacco companies on behalf of a group of smokers, all of whom had allegedly contracted a smoking-related disease. The applicants alleged that the tobacco companies had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in contravention of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and/or that they had committed common law negligence, by remaining silent about the health risks of smoking and inducing the applicants to smoke.

In a previous decision, the Full Court of the Federal Court struck out the applicants' claim and refused them leave to replead. The Full Court found that it was inappropriate for the case to proceed as a representative proceeding, among other things because it would be impossible to determine which aspects of which respondent's conduct influenced which group member and to what degree. However, the Full Court gave leave to each member of the group to file a statement of claim on an individual basis.

The applicants applied to the High Court of Australia for special leave to appeal. They said that it was not feasible to bring individual proceedings for both financial reasons and because many of the plaintiffs were terminally ill and would not survive long enough to see out a case.

In this decision, the High Court refused the applicants' appeal, finding that there was no reason to doubt the correctness of the Full Court's decision.


Nixon v. Philip Morris (Australia) Ltd & Ors [2000] HCATrans 368

  • Australia
  • Jun 21, 2000
  • High Court of Australia



  • Alex Talay
  • Gregory Durkin
  • Michael Christopher Nixon
  • Robert Milne
  • Sandra Shepherd
  • Victor Bruce Williams


  • Philip Morris (Australia) Ltd
  • Philip Morris Ltd
  • Rothmans Holdings Ltd
  • Rothmans of Pall Mall (Australia) Ltd
  • WD & HO Wills (Australia) Ltd
  • WD & HO Wills Holdings Ltd

Legislation Cited

Related Documents

Type of Litigation

Tobacco Control Topics

Substantive Issues

Type of Tobacco Product