Councillors and Officers Councillors and Officers

Councillors and Officers

Barry.Nilsson. has extensive experience and expertise in managing claims on behalf of local councils, including councillors and officers, as the ‘go-to firm’ in a number of states for many years. To protect the interests of councils, councillors and officers, BN has built a team of genuine experts Australia wide, who provide exceptional legal advice to resolve claims quickly and sensitively. 

BN has particular expertise in four key claims areas, namely:

  • Employment and discrimination claims
  • Defamation claims
  • Investigations, inquiries and prosecutions, and
  • Statutory liability claims

The rise in defamation claims within Local Government has been well documented. The increased use of social media platforms by councils and a greater awareness of rights afforded to individuals to protect their reputation, has meant that councils, councillors and officers often find themselves in the firing line. Barry.Nilsson.’s national team of defamation law experts is on hand to work with councils to develop a defence strategy in what is niche and highly-specialised area of the law. Working with the key-stake holders, we explain the process in plain English, provide balanced advice and otherwise work to ensure that our clients’ interests remain protected at all time. 

Employment and Discrimination

Social media and a changing cultural landscape have seen a rise in employment related claims and a rise in the potential financial and reputational damages councils can face. To support councils in resolving these claims, a key component of Barry.Nilsson.’s offering is our experienced and well credentialed Employment Practices Liability (EPL) team. The team has managed and defended in excess of 100 EPL claims Australia wide. 

Drawing on our extensive experience in the employment, discrimination and work health and safety fields our EPL specialists assist Councils with claims relating to, amongst other things:

  • unfair dismissal and unlawful termination
  • adverse action
  • bullying and harassment, and
  • discrimination claims.

We regularly prepare for and appear before, the:

  • Fair Work Commission
  • Federal Court of Australia
  • Federal Circuit Court
  • State and territory anti-discrimination tribunals, including the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), Equal Opportunity (Tasmania) and Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
Investigations, inquiries and prosecutions

Local Government is the subject of great scrutiny to ensure that its participants comply with their extensive obligations, in particular those set out in each State and Territory’s local government legislation. As a result, councils, councillors and officers often find themselves the subject of investigations and complaints which, from time to time, give rise to prosecutions. Unsurprisingly, this often fast-paced process is stressful and early and clear advice is critically important. To defend councils and minimise the personal impact on those involved, Barry.Nilsson. has a team of dedicated experts to provide assistance including in defending complaints made to:

  • the Councillor Conduct Panels
  • investigations by Local Government Inspectorates
  • State and Territory Ombudsman and anti-corruption agencies, and
  • Commissions of Inquiry.
Statutory liability

Councils are often the subject of claims concerning their alleged failure to comply with their broad statutory obligations and powers, ranging from obligations under occupational health and safety legislation to powers convened under planning and environment legislation. Unsurprisingly, these claims vary in size, nature and complexity although all require due consideration and a proactive approach to ensure that they are resolved on the best possible terms. Barry.Nilsson.’s team of experts has a wealth of experience in dealing with common as well as unique claims in this space. This experience allows them to quickly identify the key issues and prepare a resolution strategy focused on protecting their interest and minimising adverse publicity.

Need assistance?

Submit an enquiry online and we will be in touch as soon as possible, or call one of our national offices directly.