From the fowl house to the High Court

Case number 1 for the High Court of Australia in 1930 was not a run-of-the-mill court case, but it was one to crow about.

As a result of a Brisbane backyard brawl over noisy chooks, Edith Ruthning (and two other Ruthning women) sought an injunction against their neighbour, Mr Ferguson.

Finding the noise from next door 'intolerable', they wanted to prevent him from ‘keeping fowls and particularly roosters’. At issue, writes Edith later in her affidavit, is ‘the health of the appellants’.

The case was on appeal from the Queensland Supreme Court, which found in favour of the Ruthnings, only to be overturned when Mr Ferguson appealed to the Full Court, which also ordered that he recover from the appellants his costs of the action fixed at 40 guineas.

  • read caption below
    Notice of the appeal to the High Court, 1930
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    Sworn statement of Edith Ruthning, 28 February 1930
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2018