Advocate for Timor-Leste people – Bernard Collaery – wins national justice award

19th Oct 2018

Lawyer Bernard Collaery has won the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) 2018 Civil Justice Award, recognising his work in fighting for justice for the Timor-Leste people.

Mr Collaery was presented with the Civil Justice Award at the ALA National Conference in Melbourne today.

ALA National President Noor Blumer said Mr Collaery has spent many years advocating on behalf of the people of Timor-Leste and was legal adviser to the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CRNT) in the critical period leading up to formal independence in 2002.

“Bernard Collaery is a truly deserving recipient of our 2018 Civil Justice Award,” Ms Blumer said. “He has shown great courage and integrity in his dealings on behalf of the Timor-Leste people and more recently in acting for Witness K.

“Mr Collaery’s work in fulfilling his professional obligations to Witness K has resulted in significant and ongoing personal cost. He has been the subject of a prosecution and he has been denied his right to make public comment on the administration of justice in relation to his case.

“His commitment to ensuring justice for his client and the people of Timor-Leste, in light of the personal risks involved, is admirable.”

In addition to his international work, Mr Collaery has a long history of representing plaintiffs in Australia to ensure they receive justice. Mr Collaery represented the families of the deceased in the 1997 Thredbo landslide coronial inquiry, he represented various landholders in the compensation claims after the 2003 Canberra bushfire and argued for damages for the family of the deceased after the Royal Canberra Hospital implosion.

Mr Collaery is the principal of Collaery Lawyers, a Canberra-based law firm with an international law division, a civil law division and a criminal law division.