Ashley Madison

August 21st, 2015

I’m still waiting for the Ashley Madison avalanche to smother us in new work.  It just can’t be right that 250,000 accounts in Sydney, 213,000 in Melbourne and 118,000 in Brisbane have been opened.  No evidence for this – it just does not feel right.

What is clear is that the digital world provides just a façade of privacy and given its global reach, no recourse for a breach.  It’s no place for a philanderer.

Expanding into Melbourne

July 16th, 2015

Barry.Nilsson. Lawyers has opened in Melbourne and we have attracted three of Australia’s leading insurance lawyers.  Our new office is largely an insurance practice, for now.  I will be visiting and working out of Melbourne regularly, while still looking after my Queensland based clients.

We now have offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and it may not rest at that.  As they say, watch this space!

A lawyer who didn’t know what he was doing!!

July 16th, 2015

A lawyer who didn’t know what he was doing!!

As reported in the national press and the Australasian Lawyer (link) a solicitor in Western Australia has been ordered to repay his client $110,000 of a $330,000 bill.

At one point the lawyer managed to charge for 24.8 hours legal work in 1 day. Collectively the husband and wife incurred legal fees of $1.1 million whilst arguing over the division of $1.8 million of property.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated case.

Bell J. Retirement

April 22nd, 2015

A belated thanks.  Justice Bell’s service covered the 3 generations of Family Court judges.

Justice Bell’s service as a Family Court judge covered the period from its start in 1976 until his recent retirement.  In that time 3 “generations” of Family Court judges have served.  39 years of service made him the second longest serving judge of a superior court in Australia.  His humour and insight will be missed.

Amendments to Act’s Provisions for Financial Agreements

December 10th, 2014

At the recent biennial Family Law Conference in Sydney the Federal Attorney-General announced that he would be considering amendments to the Family Law Act’s provisions relating to Financial Agreement.  As far as I am aware this was the first public announcement that this was on his agenda.  Good thing.

I hope he works closely with the Law Councils’ Family Law Section on this important reform.


December 3rd, 2014

 Last Friday night was the Barry.Nilsson. Christmas party at Cloudland in the Valley.

It has been a good year for us.  Once again our Insurance and Health section were one of three finalists for the Australian insurance firm of the year award.  This is a great achievement as typically the finalists are large national firms.  Our Family Law group picked up a gong as one of two Queensland pre-eminent family law firms.  The Commercial and Property team can celebrate the completion of some huge deals for our clients.

On the technology front we have moved our IT support to the cloud. This gives a flexible base for growth.

To top a busy year, we have opened our Sydney office.

I am looking forward to next year.

Court Delays

November 26th, 2014

The delays in the Family Law Courts remain too long.  I have previously written in this blog about a way to reduce them.  Let’s stop Case Management.  Leave the management of cases to the litigants and only call upon court assistance where that fails.  Granted, that will fail in a number of matter, however, there will be a number of other matters which can proceed based on compliance with the Rules without court directions.  Time and cost saved.

Family Court Appointment

November 18th, 2014

The rumour mill is churning gossip about a new judicial appointment to the Family Court.   Names have been mentioned but I won’t repeat them here.

It’s not clear if there has been any consultation with interested parties.  I can only hope there is before any appointment.

Domestic violence: what is it, what do I do and can the Courts help?

July 30th, 2014

What is it?

Many people think that domestic violence has to involve serious physical violence, but the definition is in fact much broader. The definition of domestic violence is set out in the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Act 2012 (Qld), and includes:

  1.  Physical or sexual abuse;
  2.  Emotional or psychological abuse;
  3.  Financial abuse;
  4.  Threats or coercion;
  5.  Any other controlling or dominating behaviours which cause a person to fear for their safety or wellbeing or that of another person.

This means that anything from yelling or swearing at someone to unreasonably withholding access to finances, monitoring text messages or emails or even injuring or the family pet can all constitute domestic violence.

What do I do?

Your first priority must always be your safety and the safety of any children in your care. If you are experiencing domestic violence, you should:

  1. Contact the police. If you feel unsafe, you should always call 000 immediately. The police can intervene and, if necessary issue a Police Protection Notice on the spot to require a person to leave a property. The police can also bring an application for a Protection Order on your behalf if they consider it appropriate.
  2. Seek a Protection Order. This is also known as a Domestic Violence Order (or, in other Australian States, an Apprehended Violence Order or Intervention Order). You can seek a Protection Order by attending any Magistrates Court during its opening hours and filling in an Application for a Protection Order. If you ask and the Court considers it appropriate, they can issue a Temporary Protection Order on the spot without notifying the perpetrator of the domestic violence and which takes effect immediately. This is usually reviewed at a Court “mention” within a week or two of the Temporary Protection Order being made.
  3. Seek legal advice. We can assist you with preparing your application for a Protection Order and represent you at Court to ensure that the Orders made protect you as completely as possible.

Can the Court help?

The Court can issue a Protection Order only if the domestic violence occurred between persons in a “relevant relationship”, which includes married, de facto and separated couples, or between one of those parties and an a child, relative or associate of the aggrieved.

The person who has experienced domestic violence is known as the “aggrieved”, and the person who has committed domestic violence is known as the “respondent”.

The Court has a range of options open to it. It can either make the standard Order (that the respondent be of good behaviour towards and not commit domestic violence upon the applicant) or add any number of conditions, including:

  1. That the respondent cease living at a property;
  2. That the respondent hand over any weapons in their possession;
  3. That the respondent not come within a certain distance of the aggrieved;
  4. That the respondent not contact the aggrieved; and
  5. That the respondent not locate the aggrieved.

These Orders are generally made subject to any Order of the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court relating to parenting matters, although not always.

For further advice as to whether a Protection Order is appropriate in your particular circumstances, please contact our family law team.

An article by Elizabeth Mathews of our family law team.


July 24th, 2014

Arbitration came to the family law arena as a boom idea that went almost nowhere.

Last week I was contacted by a solicitor asking me if I would be prepared to arbitrate a property matter. It seems the arbitration idea is once again going to be promoted.

As appointments to the family law courts dry up, waiting lists throughout the country will expand.  In some places the wait is now 3 1/2 years for a trial.

Arbitration remains a great idea and like all great ideas they have their time. I suggest it is nearing.