When the High Court uses old French

When the High Court uses old French
December 4, 2020 /

Often legal phrases have a latin root, but this one stems from old French! And we still need to know about it…

The High Court has just dealt with a case of property settlement where the parties and their assets span more than one jurisdiction. This can, and does, give rise to arguments about which country’s courts has, could or should determine property settlement.

What are we talking about? Estoppel. Don’t run away just yet…

For non-lawyers, think of it as you are stopped from raising something in court which has already been done or dealt with. For family lawyers, the High Court has given an education in claim or cause of action estoppel and Anshun estoppel (called Henderson extension by the Full Court).

In this case, the High Court endorsed the original decision that Orders made in the United Arab Emirates did not stop the wife bringing a claim for property settlement in Australia.

Given the prevalence of international relationships and overseas assets, disputes about the Court where property settlement should take place are going to keep coming up.

If this applies to you or you need help with property settlement, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced family law team on 5576 9999.

For the very keen, the case is Clayton v Bant [2020] HCA 44

Should you wish to download a copy of this article please click HERE

Supporting our local business community

Supporting our local business community

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Women in Law at the Races!

Pastries and professional development

Ranking by risk, but where are the resources?

Ranking by risk, but where are the resources?
September 11, 2020 /

Prioritisation of children’s cases according to risk level is a laudable step, but where are the resources to actually then deal with the cases before the Court?

Referred to as The Lighthouse Project, a new pilot programme focusing on parenting matters and family violence will be commencing in Brisbane registry this year. The Project involves three fundamental tenets;

  • “screening process” where parents will complete a confidential and inadmissible online questionnaire for children’s matters;
  • “triaging” where the matter will assessed and directed into the most appropriate case management pathway based on the level of risk; and
  • High risk cases will be allocated to a specialist list called the “Evatt List”

The Project will be underpinned by the Family Law Amendment (Risk Screening Protections) Bill 2020, which was created following an announcement in December last year from the Government of $13.5 million in funding for this project, in response to a range of calls to better address domestic violence. The pilot of the new family safety risk screening processes will operate from 2020 to 2022, from the Brisbane, Parramatta and Adelaide court registries, which collectively receive more than 42 per cent of filings.

The underlying premise is that ranking matters according to risk means that the Court’s resources can then be allocated to the most urgent cases, thus improving safety and outcomes for families using the family courts.   

There is heavy emphasis on resourcing the assessment process. The screening process starts with a specially developed questionnaire via a confidential and secure online platform known as Family DOORS Triage. Triage team are to be comprised of highly skilled registrars, family counsellors, and support staff with detailed knowledge in family violence and family safety risks. The Evatt List will be managed by a judge-led support team. The team will again have specialised training and is experienced in working with families where high risk safety issues have been identified.

While a laudable initiative in itself, many issues remain. 

Once a risk level is identified, what happens then? The Evatt List is for high risk cases only, and will require proper resourcing to achieve the stated outcomes. For other matters it’s not clear what other case management “pathways” are going to be available. Having court staff signpost external support services will no doubt be useful, but what about the resources to resolve the dispute before the Court?

All our members of society are entitled to expect prompt and fair access to justice. Matters that are not “High Risk” are still important.  What of the matters which are medium or low risk, what resources will be leftover for those families?   

Fundamentally, the issue is an overall shortage of resources in the Family Law system.  Until this is resolved, any prioritisation of one area (no matter how deserving) will lead to even greater delays in the areas that remain and all of the matters still need access to Judges and other resources.

Should you wish to download a copy of this article please click HERE.

Out and about in the Gold Coast

Out and about in the Gold Coast


We did it again!

We did it again!
July 30, 2020 /

The 2020 listing of “Leading QLD Wills & Estates Litigation Law Firms” is out and Robbins Watson Solicitors landed in the recommended list once again along with our consultant Accredited Specialist Succession Lawyer Christine Smyth as one of the “Leading QLD Wills & Estates Litigation Lawyers” of 2020.

Doyle’s Guide is an independent and highly respected international ratings agency which exclusively focusses on identifying the best in class Lawyers and  Law Firms across the range of practice areas, in Australia and in 5 other countries whose legal systems are founded on the English system of common law. 

Achieving Doyle’s guide listing is very difficult to do – and this is our 5th straight year of Doyles’ guide recognition.

Our lawyers are experts in Estate law and it shows – in the quality of representation and the quality of outcomes.  Equally importantly, however, is the fact that our team are responsive and genuinely care about our clients and the issues they face.   Our clients never have to face these difficult legal challenges alone.

Whether you are an executor trying to complete his or her obligations under a will, and wish to ensure that your actions are not subject to legal challenge, or if you are a person who is concerned that merely following the terms of the existing will lead to injustice, we have the experience and knowledge to help. Contact us today.

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