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Duped 'dad' to fight court ruling

The Age, By Peter Gregory, Chief court reporter, April 16, 2005

A Melbourne man who found he was paying maintenance for another man's children is challenging a court decision that removed a $70,000 damages payout earlier awarded to him.

Liam Neal Magill, 54, has lodged an application for special leave to appeal to the High Court against a ruling made last month in favour of his ex-wife, Meredith Jane Magill, 38.

Mr Magill took legal action in January 2001 after DNA tests proved he had not fathered two of the couple's three children.

A County Court judge awarded him damages for pain and suffering and economic loss, but the Court of Appeal overturned the decision.

Yesterday Mr Magill's solicitor, Vivien Mavropoulos, said the appeal court had given a valuable ruling that the law of deceit was not confined to a commercial context.

She said it had also rejected a view that legal action, such as in the Magill case, would cut across the no-fault approach to family law and open the floodgates to litigation.

The Court of Appeal said Mr Magill was awarded damages on the basis of misrepresentations made on birth forms by his then wife about the paternity of the two children. But it said evidence showed the discovery of Ms Magill's adultery and the paternity of the two children were Read More ..jor causes of her husband's mental illness than the misrepresentation.

The special leave application said the Court of Appeal erred in law by failing to find that the birth form representations induced Mr Magill to financially support the children, and aggravated his illness. It said the County Court proceedings were fought on a broader basis than the birth form representations.

No date has been fixed to hear the application.

Yesterday, Mr Magill's girlfriend, Cheryl King, said Mr Magill wanted Ms Magill to be held accountable for her actions through a civil court.

According to the Court of Appeal judgement, Ms Magill began an affair five months after her first child was born. The judgement said Mr Magill paid support for all three children, but the payments were adjusted and arrears wiped when DNA tests showed he was not the father of the two younger children.