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CLIENT PROFILES

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CONTRACTS

Contracts are part of everyday life. They come up in all sorts of contexts

FAMILY LAW

My Relationship is definitely over and it’s time to move on

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BUSINESS START UP

I am starting my own business – what do I need

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BUSINESS GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

I’ve got traction, loyal customers, work flow

EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE MANAGEMENT

My staff are vital to my business success and I cannot afford

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WILL AND ESTATE DISPUTES

My father has recently passed away and I am upset that his last will and testament doesn’t fairly

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SHAREHOLDER DISPUTE

The six of us set up a business together using a standard

BUILDING DISPUTE

My husband and I engaged a builder to do a major $250,000 renovation

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RESTRICTED DRIVER LICENCE

I am the owner of a small but very busy boutique hotel.

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CRIMINAL CHARGES

The police showed up at my house accusing me of stealing

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

I have spent years building up my business and its brand,

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RESTRAINT OF TRADE

I have invested over 3 years and heaps of money into training

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Profile 1: CONTRACTS: Is This A Good Contract?
Contracts are part of everyday life. They come up in all sorts of contexts and circumstances –
You want to sell or buy goods or services.
You want to sell our buy a business.
You want to make a deal with another person or business.
You want to form a business relationship.
You want to create an employment relationship.
You want to engage someone as an independent contractor.
You want to invest in something.
You want to purchase some valuable insurance cover.
What could go wrong, if you don’t have the right sort of contract?
You are exposed to risks and liabilities that you should have been protected from.
You don't acquire rights and safeguards that you could have acquired.
The agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on.
You fail to get the best possible agreement you could have got.
Neither party is clear on his/her rights and obligations increasing the chance of future disputes.
You end up paying more than you should have had to pay.
The outcomes/results fall far short of your expectations and there is nothing you can do.
The deliverables are too vague and imprecise to be enforced.
You fail to protect your valuable intellectual property and allow others to profit from it without you being suitably compensated.
If a dispute breaks out, you are faced with expensive, time consuming and stressful litigation, because your contract lacked the right suite of clauses to promote fast, effective and efficient out of court options to manage and resolve the dispute.

Review and advise you regarding any contract;

Having quality effective contracts in place puts you ahead of the game and gives you peace of mind.
What We Can Do For You –

Improve and upgrade poorly drafted contracts;

Draft the right contract to suit your needs;

Protect your interests and safeguard you from avoidable risks.

Assist you to resolve contract disputes more quickly and cost effectively using out of court strategies.

Litigation v Non-Litigious dispute resolution options – Contract disputes argued in court can easily cost each party over $50,000 and sometimes much more.
Litigation can take 1-3 years to complete, including possible appeals.
In contrast, early intervention using alternative dispute management and resolution techniques and strategies (e.g. assisted negotiation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration) can have disputes resolved within 8 weeks within a typical cost range of $5,000 -$10,000 shared between the parties.
Profile 2: FAMILY LAW
My Relationship is definitely over and it’s time to move on – how do I secure a just and equitable property settlement?
Divorce and de-facto relationship break ups are unfortunately all too common. Feelings are hurt, and defences are up.
Getting early access to the right sort of competent, rational and balanced advice is really important and can make a huge difference to outcomes.
Rushing into the arms of “white knight” lawyers to engage in hard fought litigious “lawfare” is often not the right decision to make, as it may prove very time consuming, costly and stressful.
Working out shared parenting arrangements at the same time as trying to agree on property division can easily heighten the tensions and increase the risk of giving away a lot of your time and money to lawyers and the court system.
There are often better ways, choices and options open to you, if you get to the right advice and guidance soon enough.
Most judges and experienced lawyers will urge you to make going to court your very last resort. We believe this, and don’t just pay it lip service.
So How Can We Help?–
Let us triage your case, explore the relevant interests and issues, and present you with a total blueprint to achieve property settlement in the shortest possible time and at the lowest possible cost to you;
Use our skills and experience to extract the maximum cooperation and collaboration from the other party and his/her lawyer substantially minimising your legal costs;
Employ our negotiation skills to get you results as good as or better than if you spent years in court;
Provide mediation services in cases where both parties are willing to opt in to a mediation process before making any choice to go to court or not;

Initiate court action on your behalf at any time we believe this is justified and in your best interests.

Under the Family Law Act there are ways to resolve and settle property disputes out of court using binding financial agreements. However, in more complex cases, we will encourage the parties to agree on a set of final consent orders and then apply to the Court to review and approve them as orders of the court. Warning – Beware Expensive Lawyers Who Push You Into Court!
On 14 December 2017, the following headline appeared in The Australian newspaper “Judge slams obscene legal fees”. A family court judge accused a number of lawyers of charging obscenely high fees in family law disputes. He said their attitude and approach was “win at all costs, concede little or nothing and chase every rabbit down every hole”. He said this attitude and approach is destructive of the emotional, social and financial wellbeing of the parties and their children.”
We are the antithesis of this criticised approach.
Profile 3: BUSINESS START UP
I am starting my own business – what do I need to do to protect it and avoid future problems?
Starting a new business can be exciting but it raises a whole lot of important legal needs that if not attended to at the right time may sow the seeds for later troubles and disappointment.
Some Of The Key Issues At Start Up Stage –
Entity choice and set up – e.g. sole proprietor, partnership, company or trust or combination of company and trust.
Tax minimisation.
Creating and protecting intellectual property.
Contracts with joint venture partners, suppliers and staff.
Finance agreements.
Privacy law issues if you will be collecting personal information from potential or actual clients or customers.
If you can get all this sorted out early, all the better. It will give you peace of mind and more confidence to pursue your business goals.
Don’t fall into the trap of getting so caught up in getting things started and chasing deals and revenue that you neglect these legal issues that are so vital to protect and safeguard your business from problems and threats down the line.
Profile # 4: BUSINESS GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
I’ve got traction, loyal customers, work flow, staff, increasing net profit and I am ready to do some deals to further grow and expand the business – what do I need to pay attention to in order to manage my risk and protect my interests?
You have been in business more than a year and have traction in your chosen market. You are going places. Now is the time to give careful attention to properly managing the growth cycle.
Growth And Expansion Can Raise The Following Issues For Your Business –
Negotiating good supplier agreements;
Effective employment and/or independent contractor agreements;
Intellectual Property protection;
Building up IP assets for eventual commercialisation and to improve the value of your business for possible future sale;
Securing sound agreements with joint venture partners;
Understanding Workplace and Employment laws and minimising risks of being sued;
Gaining a strong grasp of consumer protection laws and ensuring all your internal policies and contracts are in harmony with those laws;
Risk management and protecting your business against all potential risks via good contracts and proper insurance cover;
Website content and online marketing and ensuring your business does not breach consumer laws, third party intellectual property rights, privacy laws and electronic personal information protection laws.
We can do a full audit of your business in these key areas and identify any gaps requiring your attention and advise you on implementation steps.
Profile 5: EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE MANAGEMENT
My staff are vital to my business success and I cannot afford to get caught up in messy and expensive disputes – what can I do to mitigate this risk?
Any business that neglects this area of prudent business management is “an accident waiting to happen”. The smaller businesses are most at risk because employee law suits can become a major distraction, a huge drain on cash flow and potentially damage your business reputation.
Prevention is the key.
Prevention And Risk Management Are Mainly Achieved Via –
Getting effective employment contracts drafted, or upgrading existing ones, that will include well drafted dispute identification, dispute management and dispute resolution clauses;
Effective internal policies and procedures;
Well drafted internal staff management and staff supervision policies and procedures;
Building a vibrant and attractive internal culture within the business and getting everyone on board with it;
Strong governance and oversight.
We Can Help You Achieve This. Specifically, We Can Help You By –
Reviewing and upgrading your contracts;
Drafting new contracts where necessary;
Offering on tap advice and guidance;
Offering our early intervention dispute management services to nip employment disputes in the bud, saving you time, stress and money.
Offering our mediation services where both parties agree to it;
Offering in court/tribunal legal representation as needed.
Profile 6: WILL AND ESTATE DISPUTES
My father has recently passed away and I am upset that his last will and testament doesn’t fairly distribute his estate between my brothers and I. Mum passed away before Dad, so it is just the three of us children left. Dad appointed my two older brothers as joint executors and they are about to apply for probate of the Will. What can I do?
The law respects the right of a person who owns assets to make his or her own last will and testament to say how his or her estate should be distributed after death. However, the law also expects a testator to act fairly and reasonably in how he/she disposes of the estate, and if the Will fails, without proper justification, to provide or adequately provide for legitimate needs of the surviving spouse and/or children, the law can intervene to correct that unfairness.
This area of law is called family provision and maintenance.
Sometimes the validity of the Will is called into question and there are grounds to challenge the Will.
If a person dies without having made a Will (intestate), it can raise its own special legal issues. Each State and Territory has its own laws that apply on intestacy, but if the statutory formula will lead to unfairness amongst the possible beneficiaries of the estate, an eligible person can still make application to the court to intervene and adjust how the estate is apportioned between the eligible statutory beneficiaries. We are specialists in this area and can advise and recommend the best options to protect and safeguard the rights and interests of eligible claimants.
Specifically, We Can Help You In The Following Ways –
Reviewing any Will and giving advice regarding its validity;
Advising you on how to challenge a Will, if we advise the Will is likely to be held to be invalid;
Advising you regarding potential claims for family provision and maintenance out of a deceased estate, whether or not there is a Will;
Assisting you to negotiate out of court settlements in cases of disputed Wills and/or claims for family provision or maintenance;
Offering our mediation service where all parties to agree to it;
Offering in court legal representation as necessary.
Estate disputes that end up being litigated are notoriously long, stressful and costly. The high legal costs whittle away the value of the estate, leaving less for all beneficiaries.
Hence, we employ our skills and experience in non-litigious dispute management and resolution methods and strategies to secure fair and equitable outcomes in the shortest possible time and at the least expense. Out of court settlements will usually need to be approved by the court.
Estate disputes that end up in court can easily cost the estate over $50,000 in legal costs and sometimes much more.
To help keep money in the estate, and not let it be squandered in court proceedings, we have become specialists is helping parties reach negotiated out of court settlements at a fraction of the time and cost of litigation.
Profile 4 : SHAREHOLDER DISPUTE
The six of us set up a business together using a standard shareholders agreement – the business is now worth over 5 million dollars and we are being offered some lucrative deals – problem is that we have lost our unity and common vision and waste so much time fighting each other and having disagreements – the business management is dysfunctional and we are at risk of self-destruction and loss of the business and its market value if we don’t sort this out fast. What can we do?
Very Often The Seeds Of Destruction In Shareholder Disputes Come From –
Poorly drafted shareholder agreements;
Lack of effective dispute management clauses that bind the shareholders;
Poor and ineffective internal company policies and procedures.
Shareholder disputes often end up in Court costing substantial legal fees and resulting in the destruction of relationships essential for the survival of the company and the forced sale of the business assets.
After creditors and lawyers have been paid, there is often little, if anything, left over for the shareholders.
We Can Help In The Following Ways –
Drafting effective shareholder agreements;
Installing effective dispute management and dispute resolution clauses;
Providing assisted negotiation services to help nip disputes in the bud early and restore harmony;
Provide Mediation and/or Arbitration services where appropriate to minimise the risk of damaging and costly litigation;
Drafting revised shareholder agreements as part of the resolution process;
Drafting termination and dissolution agreements where parties agree to end the business relationship, accompanied by a sale of the business wherever possible.
Profile 8: BUILDING DISPUTE
My husband and I engaged a builder to do a major $250,000 renovation to our home. We borrowed to the max and we cannot afford any major overrun on the lump sum contract price. We are renting whilst the building works are being done. We need the renovations finished on time as we cannot afford to rent for too long. 5 weeks into the build everything seems to be going wrong. We are having constant fights with the builder over delays, defective work, deviation from the design plans, installing fixtures different to what we asked for and a constant stream of unexpected extra costs the builder is asking us to pay. We have put our foot down and refused to pay the last instalment to the builder until he fixes things up to our satisfaction, and he is now threatening to suspend the building works until we pay up. We are under enormous stress! What can we do?
Building disputes can quickly become nasty, acrimonious and costly to both the home owners and the builder. A lot is at stake for both parties. The owners have taken out loans that must be repaid, and are often renting whilst the works are in progress. Their financial resources are limited and a building dispute can put them under immense financial pressure. For the builder, disputes put pressure on cash flow and ability to pay employees and contractors. Builders want to and often need to finish jobs on time to make ends meets.
So a long, emotional and costly building dispute is in neither party’s best interest.
The Genesis Of Such Disputes Often Comes From –
Choice of building contract;
Misunderstanding certain clauses in the building contract;
Communication problems;
Personality clashes;
Lack of proper legal advice.
Typical Owner Complaints –
Unexplained delays;
Defective work;
Incomplete work;
Non-conforming work with the plans and drawings;
Installing sub-standard appliances;
Unjustified claims for additional payments beyond the lump sum contract price;
Payment claims before stage of work properly completed;
Undocumented variation payment claims.
Typical Builder Complaints-
Owners don't understand their obligations under the contract;
Undue interference from the owners;
Failure to meet progress payment claims on time;
Insufficient or poor instructions to the builder;
Failing to respond to builder enquiries on time;
Changing their instructions too often re variations;
Getting in the way on site.
We Can Offer The Following Suite Of Services –
Review and advice on building contract before signing the contract;
Early intervention services – assisted negotiation, mediation, conciliation – to help parties resolve disputes fast and without stress and major expense;
Legal advice
Legal services
Our preference in this area is to work with both parties in a creative and collaborative way to promote quick, low cost resolution and avoid protracted, costly and stressful litigation.
However, if that is not possible, we can only have one party as a client to avoid any conflict of interest, but whoever we are representing, our primary aim will still be to promote early dispute resolution and make litigation to last resort.
Profile 9: RESTRICTED DRIVER LICENCE
I am the owner of a small but very busy boutique hotel. It was run by my wife and I but since our separation I am doing it all on my own. I have a staff of 7 and multiple suppliers to meet our needs. With all the running about in my car I have accumulated too many demerit points for minor speeding offences and the Motor Registry has written to me that my licence is to be suspended for 6 months. Losing my licence will kill my ability to manage my business, get to my medical appointments and meet my obligations to my young children under family court parenting orders. What can I do?
Having our licence suspended due to too many demerit points can happen to the best of us as drivers. We can all have those days when we are too busy and distracted and exceed the speed limit by over 10 km/h. Lost points are accumulated in Tasmania over a period of 3 years.
Serious drink driving offences, or driving under the influence of any drug, will make it more difficult for you to get a restricted driver licence.
Whatever the case, the keys to success are to show unusual hardship to you and/or your dependents if you lose your licence altogether and to show that allowing to you still drive with specified restrictions will not pose a threat to the public. If you are eligible to apply for a restricted driver licence we can get one for you.
Profile # 10: CRIMINAL CHARGES
The police showed up at my house accusing me of stealing and handed me a Summons to appear in Court. It definitely wasn’t me. They have mistaken me for someone else. I am an honest law-abiding citizen and I am deeply embarrassed. I need to protect my good reputation. What can I do?
Criminal work is not our central focus. However, our firm has highly experienced barrister advocates who can ably represent you in any court in connection with any summary offences dealt with by the local magistrates.
If you are the subject of a more serious charge, we have the means to engage on your behalf the best criminal law barristers in the State. We will work closely with the lead barrister to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
Profile 11: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
My husband and I engaged a builder to do a major $250,000 renovation to our home. We borrowed to the max and we cannot afford any major overrun on the lump sum contract price. We are renting whilst the building works are being done. We need the renovations finished on time as we cannot afford to rent for too long. 5 weeks into the build everything seems to be going wrong. We are having constant fights with the builder over delays, defective work, deviation from the design plans, installing fixtures different to what we asked for and a constant stream of unexpected extra costs the builder is asking us to pay. We have put our foot down and refused to pay the last instalment to the builder until he fixes things up to our satisfaction, and he is now threatening to suspend the building works until we pay up. We are under enormous stress! What can we do?
Theft of a business’s valuable IP can happen at any time, and all businesses that are “in the money” need to be vigilant to protect their IP and be ready to take swift action to stop those who will try to use your IP without your written permission. This includes any copyright you own, trademarks, designs and so on.
Competitors who see your success, may try in different ways to pass themselves off as you to gain more trade and sales at your expense.
There are laws available to protect your IP and to stop those who try to steal your IP or make improper use of it for financial gain or in ways that might jeopardise your business reputation.
We have the skills and experience to be on your side when needed to protect and safeguard your IP rights and interests.
Profile 12: RESTRAINT OF TRADE
I have invested over 3 years and heaps of money into training one of my best senior sales people, and she now accounts for about 25% of our gross revenue. She is also very popular with both other staff and our clients. I am having nightmares about her possibly leaving my company, joining one of our competitors, or setting up on her own and enticing away some of our best staff. What can I do to protect my business from this ever happening?
Investing in staff and then losing them to a competitor or to the free market where a former high-performance employee can set up shop to compete against you is a regular threat to up and coming businesses.
It is a real downer to invest years of time, training, mentoring and cash flow to train someone up to a vitally important position in your company and then have them leave and take with them other members of your staff and commercially valuable and sensitive information and data that can be used to compete against your business.
It is a double whammy to have to re-invest in replacing that person and also experience a loss of trade and revenue due to their setting up in competition to you.
How do you stop this from happening?
There Are Ways, And We Can Show You Those Ways.
We can –
Draft strong and effective employment contracts that will make it impossible for this risk to materialise and damage your business;
Ensure that your restraint of trade and competition clauses in your contracts conform with the law so that they will be enforceable;
Take swift and effective action to restrain any ex-employee who acts in breach of restraint of trade terms in their contract made with you;
Recover damages and seek compensation where appropriate.
Negotiate out of court settlements.