Category: Article

Tom Burgoyne, Director and Principal Lawyer at our Geelong office has again been recognised for his outstanding service to the legal community, being named as Finalist in the Law Institute of Victoria 15th Annual Law Awards.

The Victorian Legal Awards are the most prestigious legal awards program in the State celebrating the “best of the best” and publicly recognising those who demonstrate excellence in legal practice.

Tom has been shortlisted for his feature article ‘Cyclist Beware’ published in the Law Institute Journal.  His article journaled the legal fight of Drysdale man, Rory Wilson, to highlight an anomaly in the law and seek justice following a devastating cycling accident in 2014.  Rory’s courage and Tom’s unwavering commitment were instrumental in having the law changed to benefit all cyclists injured in these circumstances.

This shortlisting has rounded off an exceptional 12 months for Tom, being named Winner in the category ‘Regional Lawyer of the Year’ in the 2018 Awards.

Our firm, Fortitude Legal, has also been named as a finalist in the category of Boutique Law Firm of the Year.   With a focus on regional Victoria we have adopted innovative initiatives to overcome the geographical challenges thrown up by regional practice, not limited to distance and isolation.

“Bringing to life our vision to provide exceptional legal services to Regional Victoria, I am both humbled and thrilled to have both myself and our entire team recognised in this way” said Mr Burgoyne.

Winners of the Awards will be announced at a gala dinner on 17 May 2019.

 

Recent media coverage reported that a Ballarat construction company was convicted and fined $25,000 for “ignoring WorkSafe directions to fix unsafe scaffolding”.
Employers and others responsible for erecting and maintaining scaffolding cannot cut corners on measures that are put in place to protect our workers.
According to the Safe Work Australia 2016 report “Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia”, in the 14 years from 2003 to 2016, 3414 workers in Australia lost their lives in work-related incidents. This is horrendous.

In 2016 alone that number was 182 with 8% being female and 92% being male workers. 14% of the fatalities in 2016, 25 workers, involved falling from height, and the construction industry finds itself in the top three industries for fatalities.

Whilst the fatality rate has trended downwards since 2007, even one fatality is one too many. That’s one father, sister, son or friend, whose loss will trigger a ripple effect throughout their family, friends and the community.

Your employer has a duty to ensure that your workplace is safe. Falls can occur from areas including scaffolding, ladders, through roofs, and from trucks, to name a few.
If you identify a hazard or risk in your workplace make sure you speak up, let your OH & S representative know immediately. Your actions in assisting to keep your workplace safe may save you or your workmates from death or serious injury.

The DOMESTIC ANIMALS ACT 1994 provides various laws and penalties pertaining to dogs and other animals but the ones we thought you might be interested in include:

– Dogs over 3 months old must be registered with the relevant Council and failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to 20 penalty units;
– Council can refuse to register a dog that is not desexed;
– For dogs found at large, an owner can be fined up to 10 penalty units.
– For dogs that are not defined as a “dangerous dog” or “restricted breed dog” and the dog attacks or bites a person or animal, the person in apparent control of the dog, whether or not the owner, can be liable for a penalty of up to 40 penalty units;
– If a dog rushes or chases any person, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time, whether or not the owner, can be liable for a penalty of up to 4 penalty units;
– Where the dog is defined as a “dangerous dog” or a “restricted breed dog” and it attacks or bites a person or animal, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time of attack or biting, whether or not the owner of the dog, can be liable to a term of imprisonment or a fine of up to 120 penalty units;
– There are some defences that apply.

One penalty unit in Victoria as at 1 July 2017 is $158.57.

The Courts are given quite broad powers in dealing with offences under this legislation, including but not limited to:
– The power to seize, take custody of, dispose of or destroy the dog;
– The power to prohibit ownership;
– The power to order that a person pay compensation for any damage caused by the conduct of the dog.

The CRIMES ACT 1958 also provides penalties for owners who fail to control a dangerous, menacing or restricted breed dog that kills a person or places a person in danger of death. Such penalties can be up to 10 years imprisonment.

LOCAL COUNCIL
Local Councils are required to have in place a Domestic Animal Management Plan. The Ballarat Council Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017 provides that:

– in addition to registration. newly registered animals must also be micro-chipped before registration can be accepted.

Furthermore, where the dog is outside the owner’s premises, Ballarat City Council requires that:
– Council identification tags be worn by the dog;
– The owner must carry a litter device; and
– The person in apparent control of the dog must have the dog on a lead unless the dog is in a Designated Off Leash area.

DOG ATTACKS
According to Ballarat City Council’s Draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2017, there were 116 dog attacks investigated in 2016.
Dog attacks can have devastating consequences both from a physical and psychological perspective and can at times cause death.
In addition to the power of the Courts to award compensation under the DOMESTIC ANIMALS ACT 1994 , a dog attack victim may have the right to bring a claim for damages which may include a claim for medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering.
It does not matter whether or not the owner has been prosecuted in relation to the attack.
A dog owner’s home and contents insurance, sometimes provides cover for circumstances such as this, even if the incident occurs off the owner’s premises.
As a dog owner it is your responsibility to ensure that you have control of your dog, whether that be at home, or when out walking.