2005 Aramis O’Aristocratis Sparkling Syrah

O'Aristocratis Sparkling Syrah (2)By Travis Schultz

At up to $65 a bottle, the 2005 Aramis O’Aristocratis Sparkling Syrah competes at a French bubbly price point, but take one sip of this rich Methode Traditionelle borne from the vineyard’s best McLaren Vale Shiraz, and you’ll appreciate its value.

As a wine, it’s soave yet charming, as the obvious quality and power of the spicy fruit is alluring (if not mouth-filling) across the palate, yet there’s just enough sweetness and gentle tannins to allow a gracious exit at the back.

The O’Aristocratis once again proves that a sparkling wine doesn’t have to be French, to be sophisticated!

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is managing partner of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers and lover of fine food and wine

Commonsense Outcome to Discrimination Claim

1-189By Travis Schultz

In what might seem to be little more than an application of common sense to a delicate social issue, the Queensland Court of Appeal has recently overturned a decision of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal which found that a motel operator had unlawfully discriminated against a prostitute when it refused her accommodation and charged a higher rate than normal on the basis that higher “cleaning costs” would be incurred.

In Dovedeen Pty Ltd v. GK, the prostitute (whose name was suppressed for family reasons) had regularly used a motel near Mooranbah to ply her trade when on 28 June 2010, she was told when checking out of the motel that she was not welcome to attend again and she was charged $200.00 for her accommodation when the usual nightly rate was only $135.00.

She then commenced proceedings in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal alleging that the refusal to supply accommodation by the motel operator invoked the (then) prohibition in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 of direct discrimination in the supply of accommodation on the basis of “lawful sexual activity”.

Her complaint was initially rejected by the Tribunal member but an appeal to the Tribunal itself was upheld. That then resulted in the matter reaching the Queensland Court of Appeal which, perhaps not surprisingly, recently found that the complainant had not been refused accommodation because she was a sex worker but rather, was refused because she wished to engage in a series of sexual encounters in the motel room with persons coming and going on a constant basis.

The evidence of the complainant had been that she would see up to 8 clients a day and that she earned more than $2,000.00 per day.  The directors of the motel worker gave evidence about complaints being received from other guests about the comings and goings of her clientele.

The relevant provision of the Anti-Discrimination Act has since been amended so that these circumstances are unlikely to arise again, however, it will be a relief to businesses operating in the accommodation sector to know that they are entitled to refuse accommodation where there is a good reason for doing so despite the occupation of the prospective guest.

Taylors 80 Acres Classic Dry White

2b58c943d9586a5ebf520d1d9691afb2By Travis Schultz

There are times when the palate craves a really good white but the wallet calls for restraint, and if you’ve discovered the Taylors 80 Acres Classic Dry White, you’ve probably found the perfect compromise.

The 2008 release has now lost its greenish tinge in the glass and the tropical fruit nose is now even more pronounced.  Although the blend is primarily Riesling, the small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer make it an aromatic style and add guava and dried pawpaw characters to the middle, before the steely flintiness of the Clare Valley Riesling provides an acidic crispness to the finale.  At only around $15 a bottle, I doubt there’s better value on the shelf!

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is managing partner of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers and lover of fine food and wine



Abel’s Tempest Chardonnay 2011

Abels Tempest ChardonnayBy Travis Schultz

Given the 21st century bias against Chardonnay, they really should come up with a new name for the style given that the fresh modern examples are an entirely different proposition to the highly oaked, flabby and oily styles that saw Kath & Kim make “Chardy” a part of the Aussie vernacular.

Fortunately, most Australian winemakers are now creating a more elegant style which, consistently with the type of wine found in its (French) homeland in Bourgogne, are generally slightly leaner in body but more refined and well balanced than the typically nineties style.

In the $20 to $25 range, a great example of modern Chardonnay is the Abel’s Tempest 2011 (by Heemskerk) which shows hints of stonefruit and peach blossom on the palate with the slightest suggestion of toasty nuttiness on the edges.  The crisp acidity at the back focuses the stonefruit flavours and balances the smoky characters that work their way through the middle.  It’s my kind of wine and ideally suited to supporting most chicken and pork dishes and even spicy ones at that!

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is managing partner of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers and lover of fine food and wine


Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 2011

 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 2011By Travis Schultz

By its very nature, viticulture is one of those industries that suffers more ups and downs than the Australian Cricket Team, and Fox Creek in South Australia’s McLaren Vale is no exception.

Having bagged their 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon only a couple of years ago, the worm has turned with the recent release of the Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 2011 which flies the wineries’ colours with all the finesse that you’d expect of their flagship offering.

The latest ambassador for the Fox Creek range is all about power and finesse.  Up front, there is the typically fruit driven black fruits and Christmas cake flavours that are often found in McLaren Vale Shiraz, but the 2011 vintage exhibits none of the over-ripeness or headiness that sometimes accompanies a Shiraz from the region.

There is a touch of vanilla bean and spicy sweetness through the middle, but a delightfully charismatic, though subdued tannic elegance through the finish that hints of a cellaring potential of more than ten years.

While it might be a little pricey at up to $70 a bottle, I suspect it is a wine that we will be hearing a lot more about as the 2011 vintage seems destined to be an award winner!

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is managing partner of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers and lover of fine food and wine 

Side Businesses Must Not Conflict

Small BusinessBy Travis Schultz

It is not unusual, particularly in the trades and services sector, for company employees to also run their own small business “on the side”. These small enterprises are often run at a relatively low level with the work being done on weekends or out of hours and is little more than a means to supplement to household income. While, with employer consent, there is rarely any difficulty from an employers perspective in permitting staff to have a second source of revenue, the arrangement becomes problematic where the side business competes in a direct or indirect way with the employer’s own enterprise.

Recently, the Fair Work Commission rejected a claim for unfair dismissal brought by a senior designer who had worked at an architectural and design company. He had, with the employer’s consent, operated a small design business “on the side” which had undertaken smaller projects of a type that the employer did not normally take on. The relationship soured quickly however, when the designer sent a message through his Linked-In account to a group of people that included existing clients of his employer, announcing that he was looking to expand his own private business to take on larger projects and to develop it into a full-time business and that he would do so at cheaper rates. Unsurprisingly, that message earned the ire of his employer who terminated his employment as the employer believed that it breached his contractual terms and the obligation of upmost good faith and as the employer felt it could no longer trust and have confidence in the employee. The Fair Work Commission found that in the circumstances, the termination was not unreasonable.

While in circumstances like this, the conflict is obvious, there can be various shades of grey where the conflict caused by a “side business” is a potential, rather than actual one. For employees, the best advice is to always be up front with your employer about what your side business entails and obtain consent before actively promoting it.

Neighbourhood Disputes Can Get Ugly!

1-189By Travis Schultz

While it may be a very unusual set of circumstances, a neighbourhood dispute on Brisbane’s southside has resulted in the owner of an adjoining property and their “tenants”, being ordered to pay over $150,000.00 in compensation for nuisance, trespass and as restitution.

In the recent judgment of District Court Judge Dearden, an award of $155,573.00 was made in favour of Dragan and Vesna Bilic whose neighbours had terrorised them over a period of many months.  The dispute started over a small block dividing wall between the neighbouring properties and escalated when the tenants of the adjoining property (who were in the process of buying it from the owner), began severely harassing and threatening them.  Their conduct included excavating on their property, throwing mud at the house, erecting offensive signs, making numerous unsubstantiated complaints to the council, death threats and ongoing video surveillance.

When Mr and Mrs Bilic could bear it no more, they sold their property at a significant loss and sought compensation from the owners.

In his judgment, Judge Dearden not only awarded damages for the loss on sale of the property but also aggravated damages to compensate for the hurt and ridicule which had been suffered by Mr and Mrs Bilic and exemplary damages to punish the wrongdoing of the tenants, for whose conduct the owner was found to also be liable.

While the case may be an extreme one, it certainly highlights the legal principle that a property owner is entitled to quiet enjoyment of their land and deliberate acts of trespass, harassment and intimidation which are designed to harm the neighbour and their ability to enjoy their property, can be compensable at the expense of the offending neighbour.

Grandparents Rights

Leisa ToomeyThe relationship between a grandchild and a grandparent can be a wonderful thing. In our busy world they are often a necessity as well, particularly when both parents work. However, what happens when the parent’s relationship fails and one of them decides they no longer wish the grandparents to be involved in the children’s lives?

Aside from the hurt the grandparents will feel, the children may also be left bewildered and upset that they can no longer see a person who was so important in their lives. Sadly, for many grandparents this is a reality that they have little choice but to accept.

Whilst the concept of Grandparents Rights is relatively new it has been proven on a number of occasions that grandparents do have rights and many are now seeking legal avenues to assert them.

In 2009 the Federal Government implemented changes that were designed to encourage grandparents to maintain links with their grandchildren, particularly where there were messy family breakups. Under the changes grandparents are able to obtain advice on family law issues and potentially become involved in court proceedings if they believed it would benefit the interests of the child.

Many judges believe that grandparents can often provide a solid foundation for children, particularly where the parent’s relationship is dysfunctional. Grandparents can provide real alternatives as far as living arrangements and child care is concerned and can offer the child or children some stability when their world appears to be crumbling around them.

Grandparents now have access to the Parenting Order Program where families, that are separating and who are going through difficult disputes, are given access to counseling and dispute resolution services. Grandparents also have the right to participate in counseling and family dispute resolution with the children’s parents.

However, it should be noted that a court will consider all aspects of the role a grandparent has played in a child’s life prior to the separation of the parents. Factors such as a documented relationship with the child and whether the grandparents have served as custodial parents or served the role of parents all strengthen their claim to see their grandchildren. If the relationship between the primary caregiver and the grandparents is so bad that it will adversely impact the child the court may not allow the grandparents rights particularly if prior to the separation of the parents the grandparents played no role in the child’s life.

As much as the courts would love to see stability and family in the lives of children, who are going through the traumas of their parent’s divorce or separation, a parent’s rights will generally be greater than that of a grandparent unless the parent is proven unfit. However, for the sake of the children, allowing grandparents to be part of children’s lives can be a beneficial and enriching experience and if


Overseas travel and relocating with children

Leisa ToomeyWhen relationships fail it can a difficult time for all involved. Children in particular will feel the stress of having to potentially change homes and schools. And if sorting the day to day issues aren’t complicated enough throw into the mix one parent wanting to relocate or another wanting to take the children on an overseas holiday and issues are bound to arise.

Relocating the children

If you are planning on moving and relocating children to another town, city, state or country you should try and discuss this with the other party to attain their permission. You should also apply for consent orders before you move.

You should not assume you have the right to just move the children with seeking consent from the other party as a court may require you to return until it has considered the case. In the situation where there is already a court order in place, if you relocate the children without consent, you will be breaking that order.

If you cannot agree, you can apply to a court for a relocation order to allow you to move. You will need to bear in mind that if moving the children is going to limit the time the children live with or spend with a parent or another significant person in their lives, a court may not give permission for you to move them. When reviewing your case the Court will consider what is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

Overseas Travel

If you are planning a holiday, you should advise the other parent (and any other person with parental responsibility) of your intention to travel as soon as possible. It is important that you trip is well planned so that you can provide the other parent with as much detail as possible. Things to include will be where you are going, where you will be staying and all relevant contact details. A copy of your itinerary should also be included.

When applying for a passport for a child written consent is required by both parents. If written consent is not provided by all parties with parental responsibility, you can make a written request to the Approved Senior Officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to consider issuing the passport due to ‘special circumstances’.

Sometimes I see cases where there is legitimate concern that a child may be taken out of Australia without permission and not returned. It is important that in these circumstances legal advice should be sought as soon as possible.

To prevent this from happening we can apply to the Court for an order that will prevent a passport being issued for a child. If a passport has already been issued we can apply for an order that requires a person to deliver a child’s or accompanying adult’s passport to the Court. An order can also be made that will prevent a child from leaving Australia.

Infidelity – of the financial kind

Leisa ToomeyFinancial Infidelity is the new phrase for when one spouse secretly spends family money or creates debts without the knowledge of the other spouse. This can be anything from secret shopping, gambling addictions, secret credit cards or compulsive ebay purchasing.  Such spending is normally funded from family savings, hidden credit or store cards or even from using the redraw facility on the home loan.

Essentially this, for many people, is a breach of trust which often results in separation. With separation comes property settlement and divorce.  It is still common in relationships for one party to be the “financial controller” and in these relationships it is particularly easy for such behaviour to occur.   Sometimes this is one of the causes of a separation.  If the financial infidelity is not discovered until after separation it is commonly referred to as a STD or “Sexually Transmitted Debt”.

As a general rule any spending during the relationship will be born equally by the parties regardless of who did the spending and who did the earning.    There are ways you can protect yourself before the event such as by having a carefully drafted “pre-nuptial” (before marriage) or “post-nuptial” (during marriage) financial agreement.

Parties who fall victim to financial infidelity need to take steps, pre and post separation to protect and preserve the remaining family assets.  Sound legal advice early on or even prior to separation can give a person tools and techniques to protect assets and discover financial infidelity before there is nothing left to divide.

Some hints and tips to uncover and avoid financial infidelity:

  • Become actively involved in family finances;
  • Watch the mail – be aware of sneaky behaviour eg opening mail in private;
  • Go through the filing cabinet – become aware of what the family finances consist of;
  • Get on internet banking and regularly check statements and transaction histories;
  • If you discover financial infidelity – keep copies of the evidence it may just come in handy in your property settlement;
  • Change permissions on redraw facilities and credit cards to restrict spending limits;
  • Protect savings by creating an account with limited access – eg passbook only;
  • If it is necessary to preserve funds, transfer them to an account that can’t be controlled by the irresponsible party.
  • Seek legal advice and counselling.