Zanker v Vartzokas

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Citation: Zanker v Vartzokas (1988) 34 A Crim R 11

This information can be found in the supplementary materials to LAWS1052 - Introducing Law & Justice.


Background facts

  • Plaintiff (young woman) accepted a lift from the defendant in his van.
  • Once driving in the van the defendant offered her money for sexual favours which she refused.
  • Defendant then increasingly accelerated while the plaintiff demanded to be let out.
  • Defendant said 'I am going to take you to my mate’s house. He will really fix you up'.
  • Plaintiff jumped out of the car at 60 km/h and was injured.


  • The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s behaviour constituted assault and thereby caused her to apprehend immediate harm.
  • The defendant argued that the violence threatened was not immediate but instead violence in the ‘indefinite future’ and therefore did not constitute assault.

Legal issues


  • The fear in plaintiff’s mind was 'immediate and continuing… so long as she was imprisoned by the defendant'.
      • Because the plaintiff was 'at the mercy' of the defendant (since she was imprisoned), the threats of future harm were effectively imminent.


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