Slater and Gordon Group recognise high academic achievement on the Sunshine Coast

(left to right) Bronte Newcombe, Sarah Dennis, Kent Olive

(left to right) Bronte Newcombe, Sarah Dennis, Kent Olive

Slater and Gordon Group have donated $1,500 to the highest achieving law students from University of the Sunshine Coast, recognising their outstanding academic results.

Slater and Gordon Lawyer Sarah Dennis presented the donation at the Sunshine Coast Awards Night and congratulated the students on their outstanding efforts.

“Slater and Gordon Group are proud to provide support to excelling students to reward their high academic achievements,” Ms Dennis said.

“Many students go above and beyond during their studies, going that extra mile to ensure they are getting the most out of the opportunities available to them.

“The time and effort that they put into their studies should be commended and exemplified for future students to aspire to.”

Ms Dennis said the 2016 recipients had exceeded expectation and were sure to have prosperous futures ahead of them.

“The two winners were awarded high distinctions in their respective subjects, one scoring a flawless 100% overall,” Ms Dennis said.

“They have both set extremely high standards for their classmates and on behalf of the Slater and Gordon Group, I would like to wish them all the best through their future study and career.”

Each year the Slater and Gordon Group sponsor the Legal Awards, donating two prizes valued at $750 each to two of the highest achieving students.

EMPLOYER LIABILITY FOR SOCIAL MEDIA BULLYING

BullyingIt is well established under Australian Law that an employer can be “vicariously” liable for the mis-deeds of their employees whilst they are performing work in the course of their employment.  And it is also well established that an employer can be legally liable for workplace bullying and harassment where the conduct of an employee is a deliberate course of conduct designed to ridicule, hurt or harm another employee.  But with the advent of social media, the Law has had to develop on a case by case basis in determining whether an employer can also be liable for social media posts made by their employees outside of working hours.

Recently, the Fair Work Commission was called upon to decide this issue in a long running case involving allegations of bullying against some employees of DP World Melbourne Limited.  The particular employees alleged that they had been subjected to bullying conduct which included allegedly offensive posts being made on Facebook.  Those posts had not been made during the working day but out of hours and were in relation to “work” issues.   In handing down its decision, Fair Work Australia has confirmed that for the purposes of the anti-bullying legislation, the term “at work” simply means “whilst performing work”; irrespective of whether it occurs in the workplace or during work hours.

Consequently, it was found that conduct that occurs in the course of an employee’s personal life can expose the employer to being liable for a breach of anti-bullying legislation, if the employee making the post was “performing” work at the time. The DP World Melbourne case has not been finally decided, but it will no doubt be watched with great interest by employers and employees alike.

This development of the Law is perhaps, unsurprising, but has reinforced the need for all employers to craft anti-bullying and harassment policies which also prohibit offensive conduct outside of work hours where there is any connection at all to their place of employment.

Travis Schultz
Practice Group Leader
Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, Part of the Slater & Gordon Group
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958

When is a Marriage a Marriage?

When is a Marriage a Marriage?It may be the 21st century way but the statistics tell us that more and more couples are deciding to live in de facto relationships rather than formalise their union as a married couple. And while there is no longer a social stigma attached to de facto relationships that may have been present a century ago, the status of a relationship can be of some legal significance where entitlements to government benefits, inheritances or even compensation is concerned.

Recently, the Queensland Court of Appeal had to consider the status of a de facto relationship when the de facto partner of Mr Shane Perry was killed in a motor vehicle accident. At issue was whether he was entitled to receive compensation under the Queensland compulsory third party insurance scheme. Under Queensland Law, a de facto partner is entitled to make a claim for compensation for loss of financial dependency and domestic services where their partner dies in a motor vehicle accident, but it must first be established that their relationship was one in which they lived together “on a genuine domestic basis”.

Mr Perry and his late partner had both previously been married and had been living together but maintained separate bank accounts. They held the view that they should keep their assets and bank accounts in their own names and hold them separately but otherwise live together in a relationship. When the case was first heard by the Trial Judge, it was found that the relationship was not one in which it met the requirement that they lived together “on a genuine domestic basis”, but the Court of Appeal overturned that decision finding that even though the couple were not in any hurry to pool their money resources, just because the couple chose to maintain their independence, did not mean that they were not involved in a genuine domestic relationship.

As a result, it was found by the Court of Appeal that Mr Perry was entitled to the benefit of the CTP scheme and damages were awarded.

The decision demonstrates the evolving nature of the Law and its adaption to changes in community standard which are very different in the 21st century to how they may have been generations before.

Travis Schultz
Managing Partner
Schultz Toomey O’Brien
Ph: (07) 5413 8900
Fax: (07) 5413 8958

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

 

Queensland Overtaking Law

Motorists & CyclistsA law has been passed in Queensland whereby drivers will have to provide at least a one metre distance between themselves and cyclists when overtaking.

Initially, there will be a two year trial period and will commence in a months’ time. In a 60km/h speed zone, motorists will need to ensure they keep a one metre distance from cyclists when overtaking and a 1.5 metre distance when speeds exceed 60 km/h.

There has however, been different views on this new law. The RACQ have said that we should be educating our motorists about safe distances when passing or overtaking which would lead to more courtesy on the road between our road users, then just enforcing a law.

The Queensland Transport, Housing and Local Government committee put together 68 recommendations some of these propose drivers be penalised if they breached the safe-distance rule and be fined $4400 and the loss of eight demerit points, and cyclists be able to treat stop signs as give-way signs.

Although it was a cycling committee who initiated the one-metre overtaking distance law, a number of other cycling organisation have opposed the idea of the legislation of a minimum distance and should only be a recommendation as suggested by the RACQ.

Thinking of starting a business?

Business PlanWhen you think of starting a business there can be a number of different ideas running through your head. You really need to ask yourself a number of questions before you start such as:

  1. will people be interested in buying your service or product?
  2. who are your competitors?
  3. what skills will be required?
  4. do you have the financial capacity?
  5. is your product unique?; and
  6. can the business grown in the market?

By conducting this research you can generate an understanding as to whether your business idea is possible and from here you can start creating your business goals.

If you need assistance with starting a business, contact our commercial department today and they will be more than happy to guide you through the process.

New Rules for Older Drivers

As of 1st January 2014, new laws will be put into place for older drivers who are over the age of 75. There are a number of older drivers who are more than capable of driving however, with age physical and mental conditions can start occurring. Therefore, the introduction of a yearly medical check up will assist with diagnosing any problems early and possibly managed sooner.

New Rules for Older Drivers

Currently, older drivers over 75yrs have to carry a medical certificate; however when the new rules are introduced a 12 month maximum will be placed on these certificates.  There is the possibility that some doctors may like to see their patient/s more regularly to ensure their health is ok and may provide a medical certificate for shorter time periods.  Doctors may also put restrictions on the medical certificate if they feel that the patient is unable to drive at night or at certain times during the day.

There is no need for a licence renewal (unless it is due) or to re-sit a driving test. However, the authorities do have the right to investigate a person’s ability to operate a vehicle.

For further information visit http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/odsac

Family Breakdowns

In a situation where there is a family breakdown, unless the child is over the age of 18, parents still have the legal obligation to maintain the health and well-being of that child. In some cases where an agreement cannot be made for the care of their child, the court may step in and make ‘orders’ which could have an effect on how the parents will share the responsibility for the child.

shutterstock_90897701When Parents Separate

When parents decide to separate or already have, there are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration for the child. This includes where they are going to live, who is going to look after them, are they going to stay living with their brothers and sisters, when will they get to see each parent, do they go and live with grandparents or close relatives.

Best Interest for the child

It is in the ‘best interest’ as stated by law, that the parents make the right decisions regarding what is best for their child. The law also says that it is in the child’s best interest to have contact with both of their parents. However, due to family circumstances there may be times when this isn’t made possible for the child.

If the parents are unable to come to an agreement then an outsider might intervene to assist with making the decision and therefore, they won’t have to go to court. Otherwise, if the parents cannot agree, they can apply to the court for parenting orders and they will deal with the following:

  • whether the child will live with one parent or whether they should share the care
  • the time the child will spend with the parent they don’t live with
  • the time the child will spend with other important family members
  • how the parents will make decisions about other important issues like health, education and religion