HWL Ebsworth was pleased to once again present its Government Lawyers’ Conference series last month which was attended by close to a hundred public sector legal professionals. The seminar is presented twice a year in both Melbourne and Geelong, with a focus on current topics of importance for government lawyers in today’s legal and political landscape.
Chaired by Corporate and Commercial Partner Laura Young, HWL Ebsworth was joined by representatives from a range of government departments and agencies, including the ATO, DHHS, WorkSafe, TAC and NDIA.
Tony Lawrence from our Workplace Relations team presented on the perils of social media for public sector employees. Tony explored two recent cases to demonstrate the risks involved for both employees and employers when it comes to finding the balance between maintaining a private life and performing any public duties.
In the Privacy Law session, Tim Lee provided guests with an overview of Victoria’s Public Service Data Reform Strategy and the challenges that are faced by government departments when utilising data assets. Gina Tresidder then spoke about the limitations of current intellectual property laws in Australia when it comes to data ownership and control. The session highlighted important matters that lawyers should consider when preparing contracts that deal with data.
Insurance partner, David Guthrie, presented the insurance session and covered recent cases which highlighted issues in liability claims against public authorities. David spoke about the duty of authorities to take positive steps to prevent harm, what the threshold for bringing a claim was and recent damages payouts in this area.
Anthony Seyfort and Laura Young jointly presented a highly interactive session in relation to current issues in contracting by government. Anthony highlighted a number of contracting issues that were unique to government contracts as a result of the intersection of the general law of contract with regulations, administrative law principles and statutory powers. Laura detailed the circumstances in which the Australian Consumer Law could apply to government contracting situations, before providing attendees with an Australian Consumer Law refresher, and an overview of the unfair contract terms regime.
The final session was presented by Litigation partner Polat Siva, who explored the changing role of in-house lawyers from an ethical perspective. Polat asked attendees to consider the changes as an opportunity and provided handy hints for lawyers who find themselves in challenging situations in future.
Our next Government Lawyers’ Conference will be held in August 2020. Please contact Anthony Seyfort at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to put you down on the invite list.
This article was written by Gina Tresidder, Special Counsel and Sanela Osmanovic, Senior Associate