Posts Tagged lawyer
By Joe Palazzolo
Since Australia’s high court in 2006 gave litigation funding its stamp of approval, the industry has grown significantly.
In a new report sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, an Australian law professor takes a look at how the practice — where businesses invest in high-stakes legal disputes, sharing the risks and potential rewards — creates conflicts of interest.
The conflict argument has been made in the U.S., which is still feeling its way in the field, but Australia’s track record is longer. and the report concludes that the country’s experience should be a lesson to the legal community here.
The conflict is one of loyalty: as a lawyer, is it possible to make decisions based entirely on the best interests of your client when you have to answer to someone else who is paying the bills?
The report, by Michael Legg of the University of New South Wales, says most of the reported
Australia’s newest media mogul might need a crash course on new media. It appears her grasp of it is, shall we say, about as poor as some of the intra-family relationships she’s trying to keep from scrutiny.
Attached to the affidavit from Gina Rinehart’s lawyer outlining why she fears the lifting of the suppression order could jeopardise the safety of her family are a number of examples from … the internet. Including, ahem, us.
We in the media collectively hand-wring over how horrible comments can be under online stories. But there is a significant difference between nasty, crude and at times not particularly witty, and a genuine threat to someone’s life or property.
Exhibit A: yes, that’d be Crikey commenters. As usual everyone cops a serve, including the Labor government for watering down the mining tax. But no one’s threatening anyone’s safety here:
Then there’s someone’s Tumblr with a rather colourful word starting with “c”. Not very nice, no. But a rather amusing sub-heading: ”and Solomon Lew is stealing your dreams, one swimming-pool sized piece of land at a time.”
Someone’s also been trawling Twitter and then, in a fine tribute to the analog era, photocopying it. (A big hello to everyone out there on the #auspol hashtag.):
Then there’s more from our faithful comment crew:
Oh, and something from the guys at BigFooty:
On it goes. OK, so you’d expect Rinehart’s lawyers to go looking for every possible skerrick of evidence that someone, somewhere might not like their client. Imagine all the billable hours racked up by Corrs’ lawyers surfing social media looking for people calling their client nasty things. Must’ve made a welcome change from their usual jobs.
But then there’s the separate matter of the security report that Rinehart commissioned, by former Army officer and security professional Michael Humphreys, which purports to detail the nature of the threats to Rinehart that make it necessary that no one know stuff about her. This is where the internet really comes in for a shellacking.
For example, did you know that “a feature of media reporting that has rapidly emerged in past few years is ‘crowd sourcing’ by ‘citizen journalists’”? Yes. according to Humphreys’s report: “‘Crowd sourcing’ is where individuals using mobile phones pursue reports on incidents and the activities of other individuals by feeding real time information to social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. People with high media profiles are particularly vulnerable to this type of reporting and for them it has security implications because their movements and activities can be tracked by members of the public and criminals.”
Not merely are those pyjama-clad “citizen journalists” putting real journalists out of work (via, presumably, their “weblogs”), they’re putting Rinehart in danger! “Crowdsourcing provides the media with powerful information collection capabilities that may raise profiles to the detriment of victims,” the lawyers complain.
What were we saying about élite victimhood a few weeks back?
The security report concludes that if the Rinehart suppression order was lifted, “it is also likely to be widely discussed in social media and on blog sites. Social media is likely to rapidly amplify and sensationalise issues.” and there you were thinking amplifying and sensationalising issues was the job of the mainstream media. like any good beat-up job on the internet, the report also mentions the threat of cyber-attacks on Rinehart from “issue-motivated groups”.
Don’t let anyone suggest, however, that Humphreys didn’t do a comprehensive report. in trying to establish the media profile of John Hancock — born John Rinehart — Humphreys professed difficulties, because “John Hancock was one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, and is therefore extensively mentioned in articles and web news discussing American history” and “‘John Hancock’ is a colloquial expression for the signature of a person” (indeed, Humphreys might have worked out those two things are related due to Hancock’s rather large signature on the Declaration of Independence …).
Joking aside, bear in mind the logic of Rinehart’s suppression order: that no one should know anything about her because if they do, they might discuss her online, and therefore the risk that “organised criminals”, “petty” criminals, “deranged persons”, “issue-motivated groups”, “foreign governments” and “terrorists” might harm her or her family is increased.
On that basis, no wealthy individual or company should be discussed anywhere, ever. And this woman fancies herself as a media mogul?
Masterchef series 2 finalist Claire Winton Burn, who captured our attention last year when her entanglement in an office tryst with a married Clayton Utz colleague was revealed by the Daily Telegraph, told SMH at the time of her eviction from the show that a return to her former career as a Clayton Utz lawyer was unlikely: Charlie is also keen to celebrate returning to work
It’s something I’ll have to think about…I haven’t worked out whether living the dream is viable yet, but I’m really focused on trying to make the most of the opportunity I’ve been given. It’s all about the cooking and the writing at the moment.
Indeed, Claire worked hard at exploiting the opportunities that arose because of her involvement in Masterchef; she made a foray into food writing, with several of her articles published by Fairfax media. but regrettably, as reported by our friends at Reality Ravings, it now seems that Claire’s Masterchef “dream is over”.
Ms Winton Burn made the following comments to TV Week a few days ago:
I have gone back to the law, but I don’t want to make a song and dance about it … I’m still doing freelance food writing, so I haven’t thrown in the towel, but I have to make a living.
It is unclear whether she has gone back to Clutz, but if so, she follows the footsteps of fellow Masterchef contestant (and Lander & Rogers lawyer) Peter Kritikides in going back to her former employer. If the winner of Masterchef series 2 (Adam Liaw – also a lawyer) went back to his former employer, Claire, Peter and Adam could have a “back to the law” party, which might include Masterchef favourites like:
Forget Masterchef, let’s all get master plastered!!
VN:F [1.9.13_1145]VN:F [1.9.13_1145]Master Plastered; Claire Winton Burn Returns to Work (Clayton Utz?), 3.8 out of 5 based on 6 ratings
With the former health minister already preparing for a High Court battle with tobacco companies over plain packaging legislation, Ms Roxon said yesterday she would approach state governments to “consider whether there are options” for a separate legal challenge, with the possibility of individual suits or a class action by states a real possibility.
“we are looking at options for what is an appropriate way to reduce levels of smoking in Australia and we can look at whether the tobacco companies are appropriately being held to account,” Ms Roxon said.The minister said the government “had been taking legal advice, and will be taking legal advice” on the possibility of a lawsuit, but would not specify a timeline for any action. “I don’t think this is the sort of thing that you need to make a decision about in a hasty way,” Ms Roxon said.“I would welcome individual states considering the issue of whether they might take some action. they, of course, do bear a lot of the health costs caused by tobacco-related disease.”
Yesterday, she met US lawyer and anti-smoking lobbyist Matthew Myers, who advised 50 US state attorneys-general in lawsuits against Big Tobacco for smoking-related healthcare costs in the late 1990s. The outcome of what was called the Master Settlement was a $US246bn payout over a 25-year period to the 50 US states involved in the action.
On Monday, mr Myers met Victorian Health Minister David Davis, who told The Australian the Victorian Health Department was now assessing the applicability of the legal arguments used in the US matter for the Australian system.
Mr Myers, who has also advised Canadian provinces in legal action, met NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant yesterday and will meet the South Australian Health Minister and Acting Attorney-General John Hill today.
In his discussions with the incoming Attorney-General, mr Myers said Ms Roxon “asked a lot of probing questions on the issue” and their talks “would begin the conversation” about an Australian lawsuit against Big Tobacco. “Minister Roxon asked me to raise these issues to begin to generate a conversation both with her and a number of state officials,” mr Myers said.
“The governments of Victoria or NSW did not decide to smoke or not, but it’s obligated to pay medical costs of its citizens under certain circumstances. and that was a core legal theory that underpinned the cases in America, and is currently underpinning a series of cases in Canada.”
Mr Myers said while there were differences between the Australian and US legal systems, he believed common-law principles would aid the possibility of successful legal action in Australia.
“What we talked about were the legal principles that underpinned them, that frankly apply to all common-law nations around the world . . . some core principles about the right of government to recover when another party engages in fraud, deceptive behaviour or illegally fails to make their product as safe as they can make it.”