The case presented by Eddie Mabo and the people of Mer successfully proved that Meriam custom and laws are fundamental to their traditional system of ownership and underpin their traditional rights and obligations in relation to land.
On 3 June 1992, six of the seven High Court judges upheld the claim and ruled that the lands of this continent were not terra nullius or ‘land belonging to no-one’ when European settlement occurred, and that the Meriam people were 'entitled as against the whole world to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of (most of) the lands of the Murray Islands'.
Walters claims he had been shifting pots to make way for his tinny, or moving those which were disrupting his own gear due to close proximity.
The decision meant the original case could continue.
Justice Moynihan resumed the hearing of the facts in the case presented by Eddie Mabo and the people of Mer, and sittings took place on Murray Island as well as on the mainland.
The Chief Justice, Sir Harry Gibbs sent the case to the Supreme Court of Queensland to hear and determine the facts of the claim on 27 February 1986.
The Supreme Court judge hearing the case was Justice Moynihan.
It also revealed the first opposition from some Islanders to the claims being made: two Islanders were called by Queensland during these sittings to oppose Eddie Mabo’s claims.