October Young Achiever – Tigi Johnson

Tigi johnsonOn Friday 7th November, we congratulated and awarded 15yr old Tigi Johnson of St John’s College Nambour for her Community Achievements. Tigi is very community focused and spends a lot of her time volunteering with fundraising for different organisations. Tigi has applied for a Rotary exchange to New Zealand in 2015 in which she hopes will provide her with more opportunities with helping others.

Manage Your Facebook Page Carefully

shutterstock_170062403The ease, comfort and informality of social media makes it a very convenient way to keep in touch with family and friends, but it also comes with a level of risk, which is even greater for the careless user.

Defamation laws apply to any means of publication and comments made on social media sites are undoubtedly capable of defaming a person. A person, who makes derogatory comments on a Facebook page, will clearly expose themselves to a potential defamation action if their comments are likely to cause injury to the reputation of the person at whom they were directed. But, what is less clear is the potential liability of the person on whose page the comment is made.

As a matter of legal principle, a person who ‘republishes’ a defamatory comment is equally liable to an action in defamation as the person who, made the comment originally. It is for this reason that the print media in particular is very cautious about how and when it publishes comments made by others where they concern another person.

And there is probably no reason why these same principles regarding ‘republication’ cannot apply to social media. If a conversation takes place on your personal social media page and one of your ‘friends’ posts a comment which is defamatory of another person, a potential exists for the person whose page hosts the comment, to be seen to be ‘republishing’ the comment if they respond to the defamatory post and cause a notification of the comment and the comment itself to again be distributed to all social media ‘friends’.

I have not yet seen a case where this argument has been raised or the host of a social media page sued for republication of a defamatory comment, but I would have thought it is only a matter of time before a test case is run.

If you’re a player in the world of social media, the safest course is to manage your social media page carefully and to immediately delete any offensive or defamatory comments that might be made by others where they concern another person, and always ensure that your own posts do not speak ill of a person who can be readily identified in the comment.

By Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Managing Partner Travis Schultz


University of the Sunshine Coast – Sponsorship

On Tuesday 8th April, the University of the Sunshine Coast held their annual Arts and Business Awards Ceremony. Each year we (STOLAW) sponsor the awards by offering a prize/s to outstanding students. This year the prize went to ‘Blake Crook’, who was the highest achieving student in course ACC220 Law of Business Associations. Congratulations Blake!

(Image provided by USC: Mr Paul Kusy of STOLAW and Blake Crook)


Helping Law Students

Peta Yujnovich of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers and Vice-President of Suncoast Community Legal Services, will be helping train Law students of the University of the Sunshine Coast when students commence legal work at the legal services. Students will assist staff and lawyers provide advice and case work services to disadvantaged people.

Peta Yujnovich

Legal Secretary – Family Law

Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers are seeking a Legal Secretary (Family Law) to commence at their Sunshine Coast office (located in Birtinya).

Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers is the Sunshine Coast’s largest legal firm with offices also located at North Lakes and Kedron.

For more information on the firm, please visit www.stolaw.com.au.

The position is full time and the successful applicant will need to have some previous experience in a Family Law support role.

Duties in this role will include:

•    General secretarial tasks
•    Diary management
•    Dictation
•    Producing and amending documents, including letters, faxes, etc.
•    File management, including opening and closing matters
•    Billing – preparing and issuing bills at the end of each month
•    Preparation of Court documentation
•    Preparation of Briefs to Barristers
•    Legal Aid matters

The successful applicant will:

•    have some previous experience in a similar role
•    have strong organisation and communication skills
•    have good computer and typing skills (with high degree of accuracy)
•    have excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation
•    possess a flexible and proactive approach
•    have a calm demeanour
•    be open to learning new tasks to increase their knowledge
•    be open to working within a small team environment

Working hours are 8am to 5pm with a 1 hour lunch break.   Start date – asap.

Salary will be determined according to the experience of the successful applicant.

To apply for this position, please forward an up to date resume to our Practice Manager, Wendy Faithfull, at wfaithfull@stolaw.com.au.

Langmeil Barossa Bella Rouge 2012

Langmeil Bella RougeI’ve never been a devotee to the Rosé style, but then again, until last week I’d never partaken of the Langmeil Bella Rouge.

While my experience with Rosé had made me believe that the style is typically light, dour and rather dry, in stark contrast the Bella Rouge is vibrant, youthful and overwhelmingly fruity.  There’s a fleshy substance to the raspberry overtones as the wine glides its way across your palate, but enough fine tannin and acid from the Barossa Cabernet fruit to deliver a respectable crispness to an otherwise blackcurrent sweetness at the back end.

At around $18 to $20 a bottle, winemaker Paul Lindner has created an ideal summer red to wash down your Sunday lunch!

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

Taylors Jaraman Shiraz 2012

Taylors JaramanBy Travis Schultz

If the purists of the wine drinking community still resent the blending of grapes from different regions, they probably haven’t discovered the Taylors Jaraman Shiraz 2012.

While it’s the 66% Clare Valley fruit that dominates with its elegant violet aroma and understated finesse, the 34% McLaren Vale fruit ups the ante with power and the persuasion of rich plums, blackberries and a hint of dried strawberries.  It’s a marriage made in heaven as the boldness of the McLaren Vale fruit is harnessed by the austerity of the Clare and the influence of substantial American oak.

In its youth, the tannins are still chewy and the result is coffee, spice and cassis on the finish, but with time that will undoubtedly settle and create a subtle but silky smooth finale.

You can rely on Taylors to produce a wine of both quality and value and at around $20.00 a bottle the 2012 Jaraman Shiraz is certainly no exception.

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

“Secret Stone” Sauvignon Blanc 2009

BSecret Stone Sauv Blancy Travis Schultz

Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of the New Zealand’s North Island, may be Australia’s biggest selling white wine, but I remain at a loss to understand the attraction.  Take, for example, the Secret Stone from 2009.  For all the promise of its ripe tropical fruit and herbaceous nose, the grassy passionfruit flavors manage only to whimper their way across the palate and while the wine shows purity and an acidic fortitude, the concentration of fruit that made a name for the style seems to have been diluted in the pursuit of volume of output.

At least the Secret Stone has enough acid to prevent the flabby mouth feel of some of the cheaper versions of the Marlborough savvie!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good stand-alone drink at around $15.00 a bottle, but to me, it lacks the integrity of structure that distinguishes a 5 o’clock tippler from a table wine of distinction.

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



Redundancies Can Be Expensive

RedundantBy Travis Schultz

A Sunshine Coast business has recently been ordered by the Fair Work Commission to pay six months wages as compensation for a “redundancy” because the worker’s dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy. The employee who had worked for a shade shed business at Landsborough was made redundant after the business had two consecutive months of losses and elected to terminate the particular employee because he was the highest paid production worker. He had worked for the company for a period of over four years and he was simply paid two weeks salary in lieu of notice.

At the hearing, the shade shed business called only limited evidence to demonstrate that it had two suffered months of losses prior to terminating the employee. It was not disputed by the employer that there had been no consultation with the employee concerning any prospective redundancy or retrenchment and that no discussion took place about any possible redeployment within the organisation or a related company. There was no discussion of any possible transfer, part-time employment or reduction in wages.

In the circumstances, Senior Deputy President Drake found that the employee had been unfairly dismissed and as reinstatement was not appropriate, because he had made attempts to find alternate employment and had suffered great disadvantage as a result of being dismissed, six months compensation was appropriate. To rub salt into the employer’s wounds, it was also ordered to pay the employee’s legal costs.

The message to employers facing challenging economic times is simple – any redundancies have to be carefully considered and undertaken in strict compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009 and if you are at all uncertain as to your obligations, seek advice.

No Tree Is Safe

Tree disputeBy Travis Schultz

When the previous State government introduced the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act in November 2011, it was intended to clarify the law with respect to neighbourly obligations to maintain and prune and vegetation, but given a recent decision of the Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal, it seems that the new laws will do anything but reduce the frequency and scope of neighbourhood disputes.

Prior to the legislation being introduced, a land owner was responsible for trees and vegetation on their property, but at common law, a neighbour could trim overhanging branches though not force their neighbour to remove trees that were creating a nuisance rather than damage.

The new legislation however, gave QCAT the ability to order the removal of trees where they affected their neighbours’ enjoyment of their land or obstructed a view that they once had.  In handing down its recent decision, QCAT ruled that the legislation introduced in November 2011 has retrospective application in the sense that the Tribunal can order removal of trees and vegetation to reinstate a view that might have been enjoyed by a neighbour decades before.  In the particular case being considered, QCAT ordered the owners of a property at Greenslopes in Brisbane to remove trees and vegetation to allow their neighbour to once again enjoy a northerly view from the Chatsworth Road Ridge which had existed in the 1980’s when they purchased the property but which had been lost due to vegetation growth.

The consequences of the decision are both obvious and significant.  It seems inevitable that neighbours who may once have enjoyed a better outlook, view or even sunlight, but which has been impeded by a neighbour’s growing trees or landscaping, can apply to QCAT for an order that the trees be removed.  Given the increase in value to properties that can be achieved through having a better view or outlook, it seems inevitable that we will see a rash of these “View Improvement Notices” being served between neighbours with the resulting disputes tying up QCAT resources and destroying neighbourly relations.

I wonder whether some times our politicians need to be reminded that – if it isn’t broken, don’t try and fix it?