Canberra Frolics

November 11th, 2015

Information out of Canberra is that the Attorney-General’s Department has been working on material amendments to Part VIII of the Family Law Act (the property and spousal maintenance provisions).

I’d suggest that their toils are misplaced. Part VII of the Act (the parenting provisions) needs to be simplified. The legislative maze of the existing legislation leads to time consuming processes and inefficiency.

The property and maintenance provisions of the Act are understood by experienced advisors. Outcomes are usually predictable. A change to the substance provisions will lead to substantially fewer settlements (at least in the short term) until a level of predictability can be restored as a result of court determined precedent.

With the court delays as they are, this could take many years and a marked upswing of work for the under resourced family law courts.



More Regulation

October 30th, 2015

A central part of a privatised family law dispute resolution system will be arbitration. I hear that the Family Court Rules Committee is considering material changes to the arbitration provisions of the Act. The changes encompass a series of rules going to procedural matters. Why?

The essential feature of the existing provisions is that the parties, in consultation with their arbitrator, can determine their own processes. Essentially well advised adults can agree to their own rules for an arbitration.

A nanny state intervention will introduce the many failings of our existing system. And why do Judges believe they are qualified to determine this?



Family Court Delays

October 26th, 2015

We are now told by the Family Court Registry that Judges are now undertaking case management and not Registrars.

An attempt this week to obtain trial directions resulted in a likely listing in “mid 2016” before a Judge who will then make trial directions.

Our best guess is a likely trial in 2017.

Why do lawyers continue to use this broken system?

It’s time we privatized the family law dispute resolution system.  More to follow.


2015 Specialist Accreditation

October 21st, 2015

2015 Accreditation candidates have received their results. A 22% pass rate has led to much disappointment. The pass rate has gradually reduced over the past several cohorts.

Is it tougher standards or candidates with inadequate experience?

With such a low pass rate, it’s time that the guidelines be reconsidered to make candidate eligibility tougher.

Domestic Violence

September 30th, 2015

Domestic violence has always been a major problem, but it seems the politicians are now keenly aware of it. Barry.Nilsson. Senior Associate, Kirstie Colls has her say here.

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.