ALA announces winner of Queensland Civil Justice Award 2014

14th Feb 2014

A man who spent five years tirelessly defending the innocence of an Australian man facing criminal charges overseas has been announced as the winner of this year’s Australian Lawyers Alliance Queensland Civil Justice Award.

John Sneddon, a partner at Shand Taylor Lawyers in Brisbane, accepted the award at the Australian Lawyers Alliance Queensland Conference at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa on the Gold Coast, today.

Mr Sneddon told a crowd of 320 lawyers and academics that he was honoured and proud to receive the award, which was presented in recognition of his pro bono representation of Marcus Lee during his criminal trial in the United Arab Emirates.

Marcus Lee had been unexpectedly arrested while working in Dubai in 2009 and was imprisoned pending the Dubai authorities’ investigations. Granted bail in 2009, he endured near to five years of house arrest with his family, and was unanimously acquitted of all charges by a panel of judges in November 2013. He was only allowed to return to Australia on 20 January 2014, less than a month ago.

Over five years, Mr Sneddon made several self-funded trips to Dubai and worked across time zones to represent his client, sometimes at midnight and the early hours of the morning. Despite his practice being largely founded in commercial law, Mr Sneddon compiled Mr Lee’s defence, liaised with his Dubai barristers and succinctly explained the complex case to the Australian media.

Mr Lee attributes much of the reasoning for his acquittal to the ‘tireless and unselfish devotion of Mr Sneddon to my case and my plight.’

“I am so honoured and proud to receive this award and to be associated with an organisation committed to justice,” said Mr Sneddon.

Every year, the Australian Lawyers Alliance awards the Queensland Civil Justice Award which recognises those that go beyond the call of duty in the pursuit of justice, freedom and the rights of the individual.

“Mr Sneddon has persistently fought for the legal rights of an Australian citizen, Marcus Lee, to return to his home and family,” said ALA Queensland President, Michelle James.

“Seeing freedom come to fruition is its own reward. However, we also wish to acknowledge his persistence, determination and commitment and commend his work to all Australians,” ALA Queensland President, Michelle James, said.

Previous recipients of the Queensland Civil Justice Award include:

  • Mr Peter Boyce, lawyer (2013), in recognition of his assistance to the Morcombe family, including establishing the Daniel Morcombe Foundation to improve Queensland children’s safety.
  • Mr Paul Pisasale, (2012) Ipswich mayor, recognising his assistance to communities affected by Queensland floods.

Pictured: Michelle James, Queensland President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance with Queensland Civil Justice Award Recipient John Sneddon.

Tags: Queensland Civil Justice Award