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Ipswich lawyer Cameron McKenzie struck off for extortion

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Cameron McKenzie has been removed from the roll of lawyers after his conviction for extortion.

The facts

Extortion

In 15 January 2017, then Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale had a number of telephone calls with the complainant Xin Li falsely purporting to be a private investigator and demanding that the complainant pay a sum of money to Yutian Li, a woman the complainant had had a relationship with. Pisasale threatened to cause detriment to the complainant, including by having him subjected to court proceedings, being sued for $200,000, incurring costs of $20,000 in court, being subjected to the adverse publicity of court proceedings and being summoned to go to court.

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Peter Dutton wins defamation case

Posted on Categories Defamation Tags , , , , , , , 2 Comments on Peter Dutton wins defamation case

 

The facts

On 25 February 2021 at 11.51 pm, refugee activist Shane Bazzi published a tweet on Twitter containing the words:

“Peter Dutton is a rape apologist.”

This tweet contained a link to an article published online in The Guardian Newspaper on 20 June 2019. The link in that tweet showed a large photograph of Mr Dutton, the name “The Guardian” and the following words:

“Peter Dutton says women using rape and abortion claims as ploy to ge…
Home Affairs minister says ‘some people are trying it on’ in an attempt to get to Australia from refugee centres on Nauru.”

The first of these lines comprised part of the headline to The Guardian article. The second constituted the whole of the first sentence in the article.
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Former Labor MP Craig Thomson arrested and remanded over visa fraud allegations

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The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

“Former federal Labor MP Craig Thomson will spend the night behind bars after he was arrested over allegations he facilitated more than 130 fraudulent visa applications over four years, resulting in more than $2 million of financial gains…

“Mr Thomson was arrested at his Terrigal residence on Wednesday and charged with multiple offences, including 19 counts of providing false documents and false or misleading information, five counts of a prohibition on asking for or receiving a benefit in return for the occurrence of a sponsorship-related event, two counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception and one count of dealing with proceeds of crime.

He was refused bail at Gosford Police Station and his matter will be heard before Gosford Local Court on Thursday.”

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Winning Winner Douglas Dinner loses corruption conviction appeal

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The facts

At about 1.00 am on Sunday 17 February 2019, police were patrolling in Rockhampton when they saw a car driving erratically and knocking over a street sign. They pulled the car over and found the driver was Douglas “call me Doug” Winning, a local solicitor.

What transpired was recorded on the officer’s body-worn cameras. All class, Winning was wearing only a pair of shorts. His vehicle had sustained damage on the bonnet where the sign had hit and there was damage to a front tyre. When asked that he had been drinking, Winning nominated the amount as “a bottle of rum”, explaining that he had had a sleep since finishing it. He was slurring his words. He twice said “You’re not going to pinch me”.

One of the officers said she was going to administer a roadside breath test. Winning was in the car holding his passport and $300 in cash, made up of six $50 notes. At the conclusion of the roadside breath test, Winning lifted his hands. He put his passport down on the seat beside him, and held up his right hand with the notes in it, saying: “Can’t pay my way out this, can I?”.
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The problems with section 102NA of the Family Law Act 1975

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“During the longest period of human history—so-called prehistorical times—the value or disvalue of an action was derived from its consequences: the action itself was considered as little as its origin, it was rather the way a distinction or disgrace still reaches back today from a child to its parents, in China, it was the retroactive force of success or failure that led men to think well or ill of an action… In the last ten thousand years, however, one has reached the point, step by step, in a few large regions on the earth, where it is no longer the consequences but the origin of an action that one allows to decide its value… one came to agree that the value of an action lay in the value of the intention. The intention as the whole origin and prehistory of an action: almost to the present day this prejudice dominated moral praise, blame, judgment, and philosophy on earth.— But today—shouldn’t we have reached the necessity of once more resolving on a reversal and fundamental shift in values, owing to another self-examination of man, another growth in profundity—do we not stand at the threshold of a period which should be designated negatively, to begin with, as extra-moral: today, is not the suspicion growing, at least among us immoralists, that the decisive value of an action lies precisely in what is unintentional in it, while everything about it that is intentional, everything about it that can be seen, known, “conscious,” still belongs to its surface and skin—which, like every skin, betrays something but conceals even more? In short, we believe that the intention is merely a sign and symptom that still requires interpretation, moreover, a sign that means too much and therefore, taken by itself alone, almost nothing—that morality in the traditional sense, the morality of intentions, was a prejudice, precipitate and perhaps provisional, something on the order of astrology and alchemy, but in any case something that must be overcome.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1886)
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High Court holds contact with Counsel amounts to apprehension of bias

Posted on Categories civil litigation, Family law 2 Comments on High Court holds contact with Counsel amounts to apprehension of bias

 

The failure by a judge of the Family Court of Western Australia to refrain from communicating with Counsel for one of the parties in a matter he was to deliver judgment in has resulted in the High Court reaffirming the principles set out in Ebner v The Official Trustee in Bankruptcy.
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Sterling Law gets costs order against solicitor

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This week, Sterling Law obtained a costs order on the indemnity basis against a solicitor in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

The Facts

Sterling Law acted for the father in a parenting matter. The mother had prior to proceedings relocated from Katoomba NSW to Queensland without notice to our client. Our client the father sought a relocation order so that the child could have a meaningful relationship with both parents.

After the Federal Circuit Court trial, judgment was reserved. The mother then sought to re-open the evidence by filing an Application in a Case instead of complying with the Court’s Orders for the filing of written submissions. Solicitor for the mother said that the Application in a Case was filed on Senior Counsel’s advice.

The Application in a Case was dismissed at the first return date on 16 July 2021. The solicitor for the mother appeared without Counsel and sought an adjournment so that Senior Counsel could argue the Application. Sterling Law also appeared without Counsel and pointed out the ‘new’ evidence was not germane to the child’s best interests, nor was it likely to change the result. Furthermore, the mother was not a credible witness, and this had been demonstrated when she was extensively cross-examined at trial, so a hearing with further cross-examination would be required if the evidence was reopened. The ICL noted the ‘new’ evidence could have been adduced at the trial.

Judge Tonkin dismissed the Application in a Case later that day. Sterling Law then sought indemnity costs on behalf of the father against the mother, her solicitor and Counsel. We submitted that the Application in a Case was bound to fail, had caused undue delay and expense and had been filed for the ulterior purpose of delaying judgment so that the mother could remain in Queensland for longer. Furthermore, an offer of compromise was imprudently not accepted. None of those submissions were challenged on behalf of the mother or her lawyers.

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The perils of social media for twits

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The laws of defamation apply to social media as much as they apply anywhere else:

A FORMER high school student has been ordered to pay $105,000 to a teacher for writing defamatory remarks about her on social media in what is believed to be Australia’s first Twitter defamation case to go to trial.

Former Orange High School student Andrew Farley, 20, made “false allegations” about music teacher Christine Mickle on Twitter and Facebook in 2012, a year after he had left school.

Mr Farley, who had never been taught by Ms Mickle, seemed to bear a grudge against the 58-year-old based on a belief that she had something to do with his father, also a teacher, leaving the school, District Court Judge Michael Elkaim said in his ruling.

“There is absolutely no evidence to substantiate that belief,” Judge Elkaim said. “The effect of the publication on the plaintiff was devastating.’’

Anyone who frequents Twitter (or other social media) on a regular basis would know that false and defamatory assertions are often made about people. In some ways it’s a surprise that it’s taken this long for such a case to result in an award of damages in Australia.

Another twitter defamation case that went to court is that of Liberal pollsters Mark Textor and Lyndon Crosby against former Labor MP Mike Kelly for a tweet Kelly published about push polling.

When people go on social media to rant, they would be well advised to be careful that they do not open themselves to liability for defamation. A right to rant is not the same as a right to defame.

High Court upholds freedom to contract casually

Posted on Categories Industrial relations Tags , , , , , , , 2 Comments on High Court upholds freedom to contract casually

The Facts

Robert Rossato was employed by WorkPac, a labour-hire company pursuant to a series of six contracts, or “assignments” between 28 July 2014 and 9 April 2018, when he retired. During that time, WorkPac provided his services to Glencore at one or other of the Collinsville and Newlands mines. Each contract was entitled “Notice of Offer of Casual Employment – Flat Rate” except for the third contract, which was entitled “Notice of Offer of Casual Employment”. At all relevant times, WorkPac treated Mr Rossato as a casual employee.

Most of the time, Rossato worked according to either a “7/7 roster” (seven days on, seven days off) or a “5/5/4 roster” (five days on, five days off, four days on, five days off, five days on, four days off). The only exceptions to these arrangements were when he undertook additional training or inductions, and during mine shutdowns. Rossato was never asked by WorkPac or Glencore whether he intended to attend work on a day he was rostered; nor did Rossato ever enquire whether he would be required to attend work on a day he was rostered.

On 2 October 2018, in reliance on the decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131, Rossato wrote to WorkPac claiming that he had not worked for it as a casual employee, and claiming that he was entitled to be paid for untaken annual leave, public holidays, and periods of personal leave and compassionate leave taken by him during his employment. These entitlements were said to be due under the Fair Work Act 2009 and the WorkPac Pty Ltd Mining (Coal) Industry Enterprise Agreement 2012, which governed Rossato’s employment.
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