Australian News Roundup: Norton Rose Fulbright announces new chairman

by NZ Lawyer07 May 2014
New chairman for Norton Rose Fulbright

International firm Norton Rose Fulbright has announced that the chairman of Norton Rose Fulbright in South Africa, Sbu Gule, has also become global chairman, effective May 1.

Gule is an employment and labour partner and is based in Johannesburg.

He takes over from Adrian Ahern, whose term as global chairman expired by rotation on April 30, 2014.

Ahern continues as chairman of Norton Rose Fulbright in Australia and as a vice-chairman of Norton Rose Fulbright globally.
Firms seek competitive edge in infrastructure boom

The two latest billion dollar infrastructure sales are further proof that the sector will deliver highly lucrative work for lawyers in years to come, a leading infrastructure partner has told NZ Lawyer sister publication, Australasian Lawyer.

Last week’s announcements of the A$1.75 billion sale of Newcastle’s port and the sale of the Queensland government’s toll roads for nearly A$7 billion demonstrates the ongoing strong interest from investors in government-owned projects.

“The sale of infrastructure projects will continue for many years, because there just haven’t been enough assets for sale in the past,” Gilbert + Tobin partner Damian McNair said.

However, as Australia’s transport and service needs are now a political priority, with Tony Abbott himself declaring he wants to be known as the ‘infrastructure Prime Minister,’ the number infrastructure deals is expected to increase sharply.

A particular area of growth will come from governments wanting to unlock capital for future projects by divesting its assets through privatisations and sales.

The NSW government’s sale of Newcastle’s port to the Hong Kong based China Merchants group saw King & Wood Mallesons and Minter Ellison take leading roles.
King & Wood Mallesons also advised the consortium, led by Australian road operator Transurban on its acquisition of regional competitor Queensland Motorways.
Controversial lawyer ratings to hit Australia

The world’s largest lawyer ratings website could be coming to Australia, bringing its controversial scoring system in tow.

The US company Avvo, which gives lawyers a score out of ten, has raised US$37.5 million, which the company will use to fund its international expansion plans.

Avvo’s scoring system is controversial as the company does not disclose precisely how it operates and critics allege the system is open to manipulation and that its scores can be inconsistent or inaccurate.

After it launched the company faced legal action from lawyers who were unhappy with their ratings, however approximately 160,000 lawyers – or 20% of lawyers in the U.S now use Avvo.
Anti-bullying rulings ‘difficult’ and ‘invasive’

The Fair Work Commissions’ (FWC) first ever anti-bullying orders show that they could potentially create invasive and difficult workplace conditions, an employment lawyer has told Australasian Lawyer.

Gadens’ employment partner Nicholas Linke said that such rulings could be difficult to manage and enforce due to their very specific nature.

In March the FWC made its first ‘stop bullying’ orders in a case where an employee was found to have bullied another applicant, which included the following strict conditions:

The employee shall complete any exercise at the employer’s premises before 8.00a.m.

Shall have no contact with the applicant alone.

Shall make no comment about the applicant’s clothes or appearance.

Linke said that the orders, which were designed to keep a pair of warring colleagues far apart, could be very impractical in everyday workplace situations.

“I think it’s clear from the sorts of orders that we have seen, that they have the potential to be very invasive.  It can make things unworkable for an employer,” Linke said.
“It’s one thing to have a situation where employers need to keep people apart, but with the force of a FWC order, it’s elevated to the next level.”

The FWC has released its first quarterly report on the anti-bullying jurisdiction, which revealed that it dealt with 151 claims.

Amongst these, 23 matters were withdrawn early in the process, 16 were resolved during proceedings, five were withdrawn prior to proceedings and four were withdrawn after proceedings but before a decision.