Civil

Civil Law.
After establishing Canberra’s largest specialist criminal law firm, pressure mounted for us to extend our practice into civil law.

About

After receiving countless enquiries from clients requesting us to represent them in civil matters, we answered the call. The result has been the establishment of Canberra’s leading boutique civil law practice with a well-earned reputation for excellence, displaying the same commitment, rigour and enthusiasm for justice of our much-celebrated criminal law arm.

Coming freshly to civil law, our approach to civil matters is based on fearless and dedicated representation. We earned our stripes in law pursuing cases against the might of the various government authorities, and now you can engage the same level of professionalism to work for you, with a specialist civil team handling personal injury compensation, defamation, commercial law and civil disputes.

Services

A dedicated civil team by your side

Over the past few years, we’ve sharpened our swords and strengthened our shields (both are needed in civil law) by recruiting the best minds in the areas our clients demand.

The only thing that’s indisputable is our credentials.

Aulich civil lawyers are some of the best in the field, which means that we’re more aware than most of how time consuming cases can be. You can take comfort in knowing we understand the imperative of resolving disputes with the greatest efficiency, through mediation or arbitration or skilled negotiation; and, failing that, winning for our clients in a timely manner.

Whether we act for you or your company as defendant or plaintiff, we are bound by the duty and drive of our firm to provide only the most dedicated and thorough legal assistance for you.

What is a civil dispute?

The term refers to disputes or contests between two or more parties – individuals, groups of individuals or companies. It’s differentiated from a criminal matter in that it does not involve a prosecution by the authorities of a State or Territory.

Types of cases

The variety of civil disputes is infinite, ranging from the negligence of a doctor, consumer claims, injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents, suits for defamation, other personal injuries, breach-of-contract disputes and building disputes. That list is far from complete!

Who we represent

We act for both defendants and plaintiffs. Whichever side of the proceedings they’re on, our clients receive only the most professional, dedicated and thorough legal advice, assistance and advocacy. This sees us regularly taking on government bodies and insurance companies. If you’d like more information on our services, please get in touch for an obligation-free consultation.

When you come to see us, you’ll find that at Aulich the corridors of legal knowledge aren’t lined with cold marble. We’re warm, and we’ll fight for you like you are family. Unlike the old guard of Canberra’s stuffiest law firms, we won’t charge for hidden extras.

Our team take the time to “get” you and your business. If you want practical and to-the-point advice to achieve your business goals or to have us with you in a dispute likely to involve the Court, then we’re the firm for you. We’ve acted for families, public and private companies, partnerships, joint ventures, not-for-profit organisations and national and local businesses and can help with:

  • Corporate structuring and restructuring
  • Shareholder’s Agreements, Partnership Agreements, Joint Venture Agreements, Trust and Unitholder Agreements and Trusts
  • Business sales and purchases including due diligence
  • Drafting and negotiating contracts
  • Franchise Agreements
  • Competition and Consumer protection law

Debt Recovery

Debt is a fact of life in contemporary commerce.

When it comes to debt recovery, wisdom demands that clients choose a team that can quickly and efficiently force payment. We work closely with clients to achieve timely and favourable results in debt recovery against individuals and corporations.

Over the years we have developed a streamlined and established process of getting money for clients who are owed it. If you have a debt you would like recovered, get in touch. Choosing us won’t just make you dollars, it makes a lot of sense.

There’s more and more of it about! Libel and slander (defamation) is a very complicated area of law and it’s essential to deal with specialists, whether you are on the attack, or defending what you published.

Even “publication” is a tricky concept that can’t be left to novices with so much – reputation and damages – at stake. As leading defamation lawyers in Canberra (Ben Aulich contributes commentary on the op-ed pages of the Canberra Times), we have access to the best barristers in Sydney and across the country including Queens Counsel and other senior barristers.

If you believe your reputation has been harmed in some way due to hurtful or damaging published content, then you have a potential case to receive compensation. The same applies if you’ve been responsible for any form of communication that your opponent consider to be actionable for damages.

We’re not talking only about the mass media: today, most defamation is being published on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Few people using those social media appreciate the significance of what they’re doing – even with a negative review of a local business, or their dentist.

We provide experienced defamation lawyers who will work closely by your side every step of the way to ensure you receive the result you’re entitled to. Our lawyers can help repair damage to your reputation by having a party retract a harmful statement and issue an apology in its wake.

Having represented many clients in high profile defamation cases, we know what it takes to win these matters.

Alternatively, if you have been accused of making a defamatory statement, you should seek legal advice immediately as there may be repercussions for not responding appropriately and quickly.

What is defamation?

The classical definition is: any statement that tends to lower a person in the opinion of reasonable people.

Plaintiffs sue for damages as compensation for damage done to their reputations caused by material in any form of medium – from graffiti scrawled on a wall, through social media, to national television current affairs programs. The legal rules are the same – and they’re very, very technical.

But there are defences, ever more arcane – and our consultant QC always lectures his clients that there’s really only one defence you can always count on: truth!

Defamation cases are usually settled, and our experience in mediation assures our clients of the best possible outcomes, short of a full-blown trial.

Social media counts

With the enormous popularity of social media platforms, it’s possible to claim compensation for damaging comments posted on the internet, using websites such as Twitter or Facebook.

Our team of defamation lawyers can help clarify whether an online post is defamatory and offer valuable advice. There are some things to consider determining whether you should commence a claim for defamation, or seek the best possible compromise if you’ve acted unwisely in posting an attack.

Even if an individual was not responsible for creating the harmful post they can still be held accountable if they share the content. Although cases involving the Internet are still relatively new, the same legal principles of defamation are applicable to these types of publications. Defaming an individual is not limited to print and can be acted upon whether through photos, blog posts or otherwise. There have been plenty of cases about theatrical skits and cartoons.

The bottom line is that free speech isn’t as free as most people believe.

Employment law is strewn with hazards.

Given this landscape, practical and strategic advice is essential. We work alongside our clients to implement proper workplace practices to prevent potential claims arising from unsafe systems. For those employers and employees where a claim is unavoidable, we can help to resolve the situation quickly, discreetly and efficiently. We’re well versed in the following areas:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Adverse action claims
  • Bullying, harassment and discrimination matters
  • Employment contracts and policies
  • Workplace investigations
  • Work health and safety

We offer thorough and diligent estate planning services. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a kilogram of cure.

Proper estate planning lays the foundation for preserving your wealth values and wishes. Our solicitors plan meticulously to assist you in managing everything life has to throw at you – from complex relationships and blended families to longevity, diminished capacity and disability.

A full suite of services is available, including fixed fee rates for:

  • Wills
  • Testamentary trust wills
  • Superannuation binding death benefit nominations
  • Self-managed superannuation nominations
  • Enduring powers of attorney
  • Guardianship guidelines

We can guide you through this complicated and technical area.

Disputes between directors or shareholders within a company or between a company and creditors – including the Australian Tax Office (ATO) – are usually very stressful for those involved. There are often strict timeframes, which parties must act before significant consequences are imposed, such as winding up of a company or being declared a bankrupt.

If you’re involved in a corporate dispute or you or your company are being pursued by the ATO or other creditors, the sooner you find out what your rights, obligations and options are, the better you can manage.

If you are trying to recover a debt owed to you, the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) provide options for creditors to force debtors to come to the table or face insolvency.

A number of our solicitors sit on not-for-profit boards and committees giving them a unique understanding of issues in this area.

Combined with our expertise in handling commercial and corporate matters, we have experienced lawyers experienced in advising not-for-profit organisations.

We have a genuine concern for these altruistic organisations and our team is eager to help you meet your objectives and to ensure that legal and compliance issues are not too burdensome.

We deal with:

  • HR and employment
  • Board governance and compliance
  • Restructure and incorporation
  • Contracts
  • Risk management
  • Commercial
  • Bequests
  • Taxation advice including applications for tax exemptions or deductible gift recipient status
  • Policy advice or preparation of policies such as workplace policies, member protection, child protection and child protection
  • Investigations into breaches of policies

Usually when a person dies, they leave behind a will specifying what is to happen with their assets.

In many cases, probate needs to be obtained from the Supreme Court before anything can be done with the estate. In such matters, our solicitors compassionately and efficiently guide clients through the process.

We handle:

  • Grant of probate
  • Application for letters of administration
  • Estate administration

But sometimes things are not so straightforward – especially where a family member or dependant feels they have been excluded or not properly provided for, or the circumstances surrounding the will are dubious. This may be because the will-maker’s mental capacity is questionable or there may have been undue influence of others. We can help in the following areas:

  • Family provision applications
  • Estate administration disputes
  • Reviewing a suspicious will

It is important to know strict time limits apply in this area of law so you should seek legal advice from us as soon as possible so we can take action to look after your interests.

From commercial leases right through to large-scale development contracts, our reputation is built on sound advice to public and private clients.

They include government, developers, landlords, tenants, owners’ corporations and strata managers, commercial and residential property buyers and sellers.

Our services extend to:

  • Commercial and retail leases including preparing leases for landlords or negotiating for tenants, agreements for lease, surrender of leases and lease assignments
  • Building contract advice
  • Advice on retirement village contracts
  • Advice on loan, mortgage and guarantee documents
  • Property developments
  • Planning and regulatory advice including interpretation of Crown Leases, variation of Crown Leases and other planning and development requirements
  • Business Structure

The Team

The Civil Law team – locked and loaded

Each member of the our civil law team has been individually and carefully chosen. Each solicitor packs their own unique brand of firepower to achieve one outcome: winning.

Ben Aulich

Partner

Less More about Ben

As founding partner of the firm, our Principal Ben Aulich has established himself as Canberra’s most reputable criminal lawyer.

The word ‘tenacious’ is an understatement. For Ben, winning is everything. If he is quiet in court, it’s not because he is lost for words. He’s fond of saying that one must never interrupt an enemy when they are making a mistake.

After graduating from Flinders University in South Australia with an economics degree, a law degree from Canberra University and a graduate diploma in legal practice from ANU, Ben was admitted to legal practice in 2000. Initially working at a boutique law practice for three years solely in crime, Ben then joined a large commercial litigation firm, practicing in corporate law and commercial litigation. That gave Ben a well-rounded exposure to Court matters and litigation.

Ben’s passion for his client’s rights is infectious. It’s the reason our team is so close-knit, and so committed. It’s helpful that Ben’s fixation with winning is also motivation for clients. He’s certainly not afraid of sleepless nights … if it ensures they ultimately get some sleep.

Bridie Harders

Senior Associate

Less More about Bridie

Bridie is one of our most highly-admired and determined lawyers. She prides herself on fighting tooth and nail for clients, and has the special attribute of working in both the civil and criminal areas of our practice. Yet another first-class honours graduate from the Australian National University, Bridie has been in practice in Canberra for over 8 years.

As a generalist, her expertise is in criminal law, defamation, personal injuries, corporations law and insolvency, bankruptcy, commercial and contractual disputes, and debt recovery.

Bridie has worked on everything from appeals in the High Court of Australia to advising large corporations and property developers, and individuals charged with serious criminal offences. Bridie is assertive without unnecessary aggression (but it’s true to say that she’s the only person our Partner Ben has had to pull back from a fight).

Bridie has been a member of the ACT Law Society’s Complaints Committee since 2012, and is an inaugural member of the ACT Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, having held that position since 2012.

Erin Taylor

Senior Associate

Less More about Erin

Community-minded, sports mad dynamo Erin gives all new meaning to the term ‘all rounder’. After completing a double degree of a Bachelor of Applied Science (Sports Administration) and a Bachelor of Laws followed by a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at ANU, she applied her athletic sense of justice at the Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

She then moved over to the ACT Government followed by the ACT Academy of Sport, until the siren call of the legal profession proved too strong. After all, Erin did tell her year two teacher that she wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up. We chose Erin to be part of the battle ranks at Aulich due to her unrivalled knowledge of each and every commercial area, as well as her thorough understanding of the issues facing sporting and government bodies on all levels.

Never one to rest on her laurels, Erin is the proud holder of various board and not-for-profit section appointments such as being the Chair of Touch Football ACT as well as the Chair of the Touch Football ACT Judiciary and has, until recently, also been a Director on the Board of Netball ACT. She also likes to whip the Aulich team into shape at our weekly gym session, and has been known to spearhead our involvement in charitable sporting events.

Rachael Hyde

Senior Associate

Less More about Rachael

An Arts/Law graduate from Sydney University, Rachael is currently completing her studies for a Masters of Law at the Australian National University.

Commencing her legal career in a boutique Sydney law firm specialising in intellectual property, advertising and marketing law, she then took a graduate position at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, working as a specialist in governance and policy areas, before moving to the Attorney-General’s Department. Rachael was handpicked to join our team because of her ready familiarity with the otherwise labyrinthine processes of government.

With us, Rachael’s skills are applied across a range of practice areas, including commercial and contractual disputes, employment, and estate planning.

Coming from a creative family, Rachael broke the mould ‘to rebel and do something boring’. She now appreciates that working with us is anything but boring.

A keen contributor to the culture at our firm, Rachael insists that she never believed she would work at a law firm where people laugh so much.

Kate Gunther

Lawyer

Less More about Kate

Kate graduated from university with first class honours and went on to receive the University Medal for the highest academic results of all undergraduate students in the faculty of Business, Government and Law. That’s why we wanted her.

Headhunted from the Fair Work Commission because of her sharp mind, academic determination and achieving the standing of her University’s best student in law, Kate practises in personal injury and criminal law and relishes our ‘go hard or go home’ culture– even if that means she often leaves work in the early hours of the morning. It’s her dedication to clients that sees her achieve remarkable results.

Her successes include securing significant financial settlements for personal injury clients, the dismissal of all charges for a mentally impaired client, a non-conviction order for charges commanding a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, and the acquittal of a client charged with 14 serious offences in the ACT Supreme Court.

Kate is an avid reader, eager writer and, much to our benefit, she enjoys talking a lot too. She was drawn to law by the prospect of a profession in which she could enjoy all three of her ‘passions’. Her clients can attest that her wit is given daily exercise with us.

Kate clocks off by reading Harry Potter. Fair enough, Kate.

Zoe Jones

Lawyer

Less More about Zoe

Zoe commenced her legal career on the other side of the Bench, working as an Associate to a Judge in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Zoe’s wealth of experience is invaluable as she works in both the civil and criminal areas of our practise.

She studied Law at the Australian National University and was awarded the University prize for the highest academic results in one of her course.

Zoe is passionate about ensuring those in authority exercise their authority lawfully particularly the Government and Police.  She takes great satisfaction in telling authorities to find someone else to pick on. She enjoys the thrill of litigation, and like all of our lawyers doesn’t accept anything but a win.

If she was not busy enough already, Zoe is also a professional ski instructor and has taught lessons in Canada and Japan. She says teaching is a lot like litigation – she is always right.

Stefan Russell-Uren

Lawyer

Less More about Stefan

Stefan is a graduate of the University of Canberra and a recipient of the coveted Dean’s Excellence Award.

Prior to joining the Aulich team, Stefan worked in the trade union movement as a legal officer for United Voice. This is where Aulich came across Stefan, when he was on the other side of a matter.  We were pretty impressed with his knowledge, skill and dogged approach to litigation and we knew he’d fit in extremely well here at Aulich.  Stefan has a keen interest and extensive experience in industrial law and workplace health and safety.

Stefan also has a decade’s worth of experience as a chef and baker, before he found his true calling and joined the law.

When Stefan isn’t whipping up a batch of his world-famous Friands for his co-workers, he blows off steam in the boxing ring and enjoys spending his time with his lovely wife and two beautiful kids.

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