This is a three-page typewritten deposition made by Edith Sophie Doris Ruthning, one of three sisters, outlining the legal circumstances leading to a judgement being given against them in the Supreme Court of Queensland in relation to the noisy fowls and roosters kept by their neighbour Thomas Tarran Ferguson. She also identified that the matter at issue between the neighbours was of a value greater than £300. The deposition was sworn before Justice of the Peace, Arthur A Joyce, on 28 February 1930 and forms part of a High Court of Australia file, No. 1 of 1930.
- This deposition was part of the paperwork for the Ruthning sisters' appeal to the High Court of Australia to try to silence their neighbour's crowing roosters and it illustrates how neighbourhood disputes can escalate to the highest court in the nation. By providing the deposition, the sisters were giving notice of an appeal against a decision in favour of their poultry-keeping neighbour Thomas Ferguson that had been heard in the Supreme Court of Queensland on 12 February 1930.
- Although the roosters were probably a long-running issue, once the Ruthning sisters took their neighbour to court, matters escalated quickly and expensively, as described here. In 1929 the sisters were successful in gaining an injunction against Ferguson and costs of 40 guineas. Ferguson then successfully appealed to the full Supreme Court and was awarded costs plus the recovery of the 40 guineas. The High Court appeal followed, with the sisters seeking full costs.
- By 1930 the High Court of Australia had a wide-ranging appellate jurisdiction and a heavy appellate case load, in addition to its work of interpreting Australia's Constitution. The High Court had been formally established in 1901, as provided for by Section 71 of the Constitution, with the dual functions of being Australia's final court of appeal and its Constitutional court.
- It is clear from the deposition that the Ruthning sisters were appealing to the High Court 'as of right' rather than asking for leave or permission to appeal. The right that allowed them to appeal was the proprietary right to reside at their home 'free of the intolerable noises complained of'. In 1930 appeals as of right to the High Court could only proceed if the value of the right at stake was more than £300, hence the reference to this figure. In 1984 such appeals were abolished.
- Although initially caught up in the escalating appeal process, the Ruthning sisters probably received advice that a High Court appeal would either be very expensive or unlikely to succeed and on 14 March 1930 they abandoned their appeal. Substantially out of pocket from their neighbour's successful Supreme Court appeal, they would henceforth have had to put up with the roosters.