Australia updates

Arbitration & ADR

Subpoenas in aid of arbitration
  • Australia
  • 02 August 2018

The Supreme Court of Victoria recently approved the issuance of subpoenas compelling two witnesses to attend before an arbitral tribunal seated in Melbourne and give evidence pursuant to Section 23 of the International Arbitration Act. The application arose out of a long-running dispute concerning the sale of a food business. The court's judgment provides useful guidance on the circumstances in which it will issue subpoenas in aid of arbitration as well as the meaning of Section 23(4) of the act.

No requirement to provide evidence or documents in foreign-seated arbitration
  • Australia
  • 09 November 2017

The Federal Court recently declined an application for leave to issue subpoenas pursuant to Section 23 of the International Arbitration Act 1974 on the basis that Section 23 of the act did not give the court jurisdiction to do so in aid of an arbitration seated outside Australia. While some practitioners will agree with the court's strict interpretation of the act, others – particularly those engaged in international arbitration in Asia-Pacific – may find the decision less satisfactory.

Nothing to get wound up about: Federal Court refers Masters case to arbitration
  • Australia
  • 12 October 2017

In a recent case, the Federal Court stayed the proceedings brought before it and referred the dispute to arbitration, save for the ultimate question of whether a winding-up order against the first defendant should be made. Among other things, the decision illustrates the policy of minimal curial intervention that the Australian courts follow where arbitration is concerned. It also confirms the arbitrability of certain claims under the Corporations Act 2001.


Employment & Benefits

Contributed by Lander & Rogers
Get your hands off my… data! Employer's request for biometric data deemed unlawful
  • Australia
  • 07 August 2019

The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission recently found that the direction given to an employee regarding the solicitation and collection of his biometric data was unlawful because it was inconsistent with the Privacy Act. The decision is a reminder to employers that directions to employees must be lawful and reasonable. If not, dismissal of an employee for failing to follow such direction will likely be unfair.

Court rules that industrial action must be taken by parties to employment relationship
  • Australia
  • 31 July 2019

A recent Full Court of the Federal Court decision is significant in shedding light on what constitutes 'industrial action' as defined in Section 19(1) of the Fair Work Act. Specifically, the decision establishes that industrial action can be taken only by parties to an employment relationship. It also highlights that, under the Fair Work Act, industrial action does not capture instances where a subcontractor's employees down tools on site with the support of their direct employer.

The untouchable employee and dangers of playing office politics
  • Australia
  • 15 May 2019

Following a recent Federal Court decision, a power solutions company was forced to reinstate a senior employee who it had fired three years previously and pay him A$1.1 million in back pay. This case serves as a reminder that employers must be aware of the dangers of unlawfully terminating an employee, particularly given that the employee may be reinstated into their position should it be held that they suffered adverse action.

#MeToo inspires employees to act: Fair Work Commission upholds dismissal of Coles manager
  • Australia
  • 17 April 2019

The Fair Work Commission recently considered whether a Coles employee, whose conduct had been found to breach the chain's code of conduct and equal opportunity policy, had been unfairly dismissed. The commission noted that the #MeToo movement had commenced and gained traction in late 2017 and was likely to have encouraged the initial complainant and other complainants to report the employee's conduct.

Worker sacked for taking Nurofen Plus – how does your drug and alcohol policy stack up?
  • Australia
  • 10 April 2019

The Fair Work Commission recently confirmed that it would be inappropriate to reinstate an employee who had tested positive for Nurofen Plus after failing to declare that he had been taking it, as required by his employer's drug and alcohol policy. The decision highlights that non-compliance with a drug and alcohol policy can be a valid reason for dismissal and that employers must closely consider mitigating circumstances before deciding to dismiss an employee.


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