Welsh Rare Bit of Fun

cardiff_crownIt is rare for court transcripts to be all that amusing, but this one, from a court in Wales, is.259519829-The-Harry-Potter-case (2)

The advocate for the defendant was a solicitor called Alan Blacker, who practices under the name Lord Harley. It appears that he subsequently made a complaint against the judge!

It would be fun if there was more of this sort of thing. But unhappily, real cases involve real people, who can get really badly Continue reading

Even Less Support for the Bust

bustI posted last month about the question of whether an insolvent company may avail itself of the security of payment legislation; see Support for the Bust? It was a topical question because of the increasing number of liquidators who are now seeking to use the legislation, and I concluded that the answer is “no” based on a decision of Young CJ in Eq in and Brodyn Pty Ltd v Dasein Constructions Pty Ltd[3] some 11 years ago. Little did I know that on the very same day as I put that post up, Justice Vickery was busy coming to exactly the same conclusion in Victoria in Facade Treatment Engineering Ltd the Brookfield Multiplex Constructions Pty Ltd [2015] VSC 41.

There were some who doubted my conclusion in a LinkedIn discussion, but this latest decision seems to drive a very firm nail into the coffin of liquidators who seek Continue reading

Appointed to Avoid

QVB_carousel_04-06-2014_2It was both a privilege and a pleasure last month to be formally appointed to chair the Dispute Avoidance Board for the Sydney Light Rail project, which will run from Circular Quay in Sydney to connect with Randwick and Kingsford. It is a substantial PPP project worth a little more than $2 billion, and I have been hard at work recently getting my head around the contract documents.

The track record for these review boards in Australia is brilliant – now 60 projects without a single one of them having Continue reading


legalwiseI was asked by Legalwise Seminars if I could present the paper for them at their Contract Law Masterclass at 7.30 tomorrow morning. That was rather too early for me; I’m doing it instead at the slightly later time of 8.50 at the Stamford Plaza in Adelaide.

My paper has the rather odd title  Rap Your Way to the New Beat: A New Approach to Contract Drafting. It has nothing to do with rap music at all, of course. Instead, it is an acrostic for review boards, adjudication and preaction protocol.

The general drift of my paper is that it is dumb for those who draft contracts to ignore any of these things. Review boards, or Dispute Avoidance Boards as they are often now known in Australia, are a hugely successful way of managing out the risk of disputes on Continue reading

Firm Bases


Michael Battye soon to rejoin Pinsent Masons

Before I launched what is now Fenwick Elliott LLP, which is now the largest construction law specialist firm in the UK, I worked as an assistant solicitor with Masons, which was then an out-and-out construction law specialist firm in London.  The firm later merged with a general practice to become Pinsent Masons, which in turn has grown hugely, now with some 20 offices around the world.

Anyway, Pinsent Masons is about to open for business in Australia.

Australia is lovely, but a bit weird. It punches hugely above its weight in some areas, such as sport, but way below its weight in others, such as international law. Part of the problem, perhaps, is the State system, which is just too hard for the international mind.  So South Eastern Asia tends to go all round the world to London for specialist law, rather than to the much closer Australia.  It is not that Australian is devoid of good lawyers. But with some notable exceptions, it is short on specialist construction law firms (by international standards, a lot of work still goes to the big general practices) and hence it tends to be rather expensive. And it is a shade parochial (there are still people who say that you need a “home town” counsel if you want to win a court battle).

Instead, there has been a plethora of mergers and alliances.  Australia is a fairly big market of itself.  And its major contractors have a substantial reach.

Pinsent Masons have recruited some senior lawyers from other firms for their new offices in Australia. Of the Adelaide crop, Pinsent Masons have garnered Michael Battye’s QED Legal.  Michael has been busy Continue reading