Opinion

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  • Horseplay in the workplace leads to damages

    6th May 2021

    Emily Wittig from Stacks Collins Thompson discusses a case where a ‘bit of fun’ at work goes too far and leads to serious injury. She highlights the duty of care owed by employers to provide competent supervisors and a safe workplace, and the significant dangers of injury and death when this duty is breached.

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  • Compensation, risk and the NDIS

    29th Apr 2021

    Pursuing compensation can be expensive and stressful. Might injured Australians decide it’s better to just receive full Centrelink and NDIS? Jane Campbell explains the issues at play, including repayments and reductions, and highlights the enduring importance of securing proper compensation.

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  • BYO bandages: The case for regional and rural health reform

    22nd Apr 2021

    Catherine Henry discusses the impact that inequitable health resourcing and services has on those living in rural, regional and remote areas. In particular, she addresses key issues including shortages of specialist practitioners, lack of regional cancer centres, and the unacceptably wide gap in the health outcomes of First Nations communities.

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  • Spy apps: Privacy protection or illegal surveillance?

    15th Apr 2021

    In the past few years, a growing number of free spy apps have appeared on the market. What is most alarming about this phenomenon is the blurred line of legality in these apps which have a wide range of uses, from offering anti-spyware that protects a user’s private information to enabling illegal surveillance. Nick Burton provides an overview of the most commonly used spy apps and discusses the legalities of using these apps.

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  • Fighting racism in the healthcare system

    8th Apr 2021

    Despite the common belief that the Australian health system treats everyone equally, George Newhouse and Karina Hawtrey argue that the system operates in a way that disproportionately excludes and harms First Nations people. They discuss the ways in which legal advocates can recognise and assist in fighting racism, including by implementing firm-wide anti-racism policies and taking on cases of medical negligence faced by First Nations clients.

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  • Facilitated conclave conferences

    1st Apr 2021

    Where there is a divergence in expert evidence, the experts involved are expected to participate in a conclave conference. Kirsten Van Der Wal and Kathryn McMillan QC discuss the role of an independent facilitator in this process, how to appoint a facilitator as well as practical considerations for legal practitioners.

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  • Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act provisions replaced by new legislation in NSW

    25th Mar 2021

    The introduction of the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020 (NSW) provides courts with better guidance when diverting a criminal defendant into mental healthcare and treatment. Mark Warren discusses the new Act’s provisions in regard to mental health definitions, the ‘fit for trial’ test, and the replacement of the ‘not guilty’ verdict with ‘not criminally responsible’.

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  • How the law could permit the standing down of Christian Porter

    18th Mar 2021

    The standing down of a public service employee during an investigation into their conduct is provided for under Australian industrial relations law. Giri Sivaraman examines previous decisions featuring suspensions of highly skilled professionals in which the courts considered whether the suspension improved the integrity of the investigation and the potential risks to the employee’s health and career.

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  • Protecting everyone’s rights benefits us all

    11th Mar 2021

    Australia’s human rights performance was closely scrutinised in the UN’s recent Universal Periodic Review. Hugh de Kretser discusses the review’s recommendations to improve our rights protection, and outlines its concerns on issues including Australia’s low age of criminal responsibility, economic hardship during COVID-19, the Government’s response to climate change, and the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and of refugees and people seeking asylum.

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  • Police found to have conducted unlawful stop and search

    4th Mar 2021

    Mark Warren discusses a case involving an unlawful stop and search conducted by NSW police and highlights the important powers under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), in particular exploring what constitutes ‘reasonable grounds’ to stop and search under the Act.

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  • Posting defamatory conspiracy theories online can cost you

    25th Feb 2021

    The Federal Court awarded damages of $875,000 in the case of Webster v Brewer (No. 3) [2020] FCA 1343, which involved defamation and online conspiracy theories. Geoff Baldwin discusses the Court’s reasoning and the likelihood that social media publishers will be held more accountable for material that is published on its platforms.

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  • Avoid autopilot when using expert evidence

    18th Feb 2021

    Having a solid understanding of expert evidence law and the common law rules is a powerful weapon for a litigator. Anna Morgan provides an overview of the rules of expert evidence, discusses recent cases where expert opinion evidence was rejected, and offers tips on using expert evidence effectively.

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  • Government’s response to dying man’s plea ‘patronising, insulting’

    11th Feb 2021

    There are thousands of people living in Tasmania who are opting to break an absurd and cruel law which criminalises the use of cannabis. In a passionate plea to Premier Peter Gutwein, Mr Fielding, a dying cancer patient, has highlighted the inhumane lack of availability of medicinal cannabis products in the state.

    Greg Barns SC calls for the Tasmanian government to show compassion and recognise the increasing evidence supporting the use of medicinal cannabis.

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  • Juror misconduct leads to quashed conviction and retrial

    4th Feb 2021

    When considering their verdict, jurors may think that it is helpful to conduct an internet search on the case, on the accused, or even on the finer points of jury service. Peter Schmidt discusses the ways in which improper juror behaviour can cause unnecessary cost and burden to the court and the victim.

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  • Dispute over fate of deceased’s body determined by consulting Facebook

    28th Jan 2021

    Joshua Crowther discusses the importance of having an up-to-date will. He refers to the case of Dragarski v Dunn [2019] NSWSC 300 where, in the absence of a will, the judge looked to the deceased person’s social media accounts to decide on precedence among her relatives and the fate of her body.

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  • Enormous power of police must be kept in check

    20th Jan 2021

    Police wield enormous power. It is absolutely critical that this power is checked and where it is abused, that the police officers are held to account. Jeremy King discusses the implications of the inquiry into the external oversight of police corruption and misconduct in Victoria, which acknowledged the significant failings of Victoria’s police complaints system and recommended the strengthening of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).

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  • Continuing grim reality of work-related fatalities

    14th Jan 2021

    A total of 3,751 workers were killed in work-related incidents between 2003 and 2018. The number of non-fatal work-related injuries in Australia is also extreme.

    Justin Stack observes that changes in legislation have made it more difficult for injured workers to obtain adequate compensation and he discusses avenues through which NSW workers can challenge an insurer’s decision or dispute the amount of compensation they have been awarded.

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  • Firing an employee who criticises your client is not unfair dismissal

    3rd Dec 2020

    The decision of Rumble v The Partnership trading as HWL Ebsworth Lawyers [2019] FCA 1409 involved a dismissal of the lawyer who led a government-commissioned review into sexual and physical abuse, and refused to stop publicly criticising the firm’s government client.

    Geoff Baldwin discusses how the Federal Court did not consider the lawyer’s dismissal to be unfair as the lawyer had failed to follow management directions to not criticise a client of the firm.

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  • The high cost of classifying bus driver employees as contractors

    26th Nov 2020

    Emily Wittig from Stacks Collins Thompson discusses the decision of Fair Work Ombudsman v Eagle Tours Pty Limited [2019] FCCA 2099, where the Federal Circuit Court fined a company for deliberately wrongly classifying employees as independent contractors and precluding them from employee benefits. This decision reflects that in a court matter, the judge will look at the totality of the workplace relationship to determine the status of a person’s employment.

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  • The legacy of the asylum seeker phone ban

    19th Nov 2020

    The proposed Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020, which would have banned refugees, asylum seekers and non-citizens who are held in immigration detention from having mobile phones, failed to pass the Senate by the narrowest of margins.

    Dr Sangeetha Pillai analyses the scope and impact of the proposed law and argues that it will have broad and long-lasting ramifications on conversations around detention search powers, access to legal representation, and government accountability. 

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