Local Government Law

Our experience working for Local Councils executive and team members is broad and deep.

RMB Lawyers has long been regarded as a prominent firm in the area of Local Government Law. We act for a significant number of Local Councils in NSW. We advise on the full spectrum of legal issues facing modern Councils. Our work is split approximately 50% advice and 50% dispute resolution.

We understand the legislative framework and risk profile which governs Councils’ activities. We understand the cost shifting that Councils continually have to bear, along with the competing interests of stakeholders including residents, ratepayers, developers, interest groups and other tiers of government.

What we do for Councils?

  • Planning and environmental law
    • Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
    • Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997
    • Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016
    • Class 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 proceedings in Land & Environment Court of NSW
    • Remediation and contamination
    • Orders and enforcement
    • Physical commencement
    • Existing use rights
    • Certification of development
    • Exempt and Complying Development
    • Affordable housing
    • Voluntary Planning Agreements
  • Property development
    • Conveyancing and property transfers – small and large scale
    • Joint ventures
    • Section 88B instruments
  • Local Government law
    • Contract law including leasing and licencing
    • Commercial transactions
    • Tendering
    • Rates and charges
    • Land identification and acquisition including compulsory acquisition
    • Re-zoning advice and gate way proposals
    • Codes of conduct
    • Delegation rights and responsibilities
  • Local, District and Supreme Court proceedings
  • NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
  • Construction law
  • Public liability
  • Insurance law
  • Industrial and workplace law
  • ICAC inquires
  • Negotiation with other Government instrumentalities
  • Strategic planning and governance advice

Our Local Government Team Click to view resume

Local Government Portal

An information portal to assist Local Council executives and team members perform their day to day roles. Our Local Government clients may enter our Local Government Portal which has been developed by our team from the ground up. The Portal includes:

  1. A summary of 20 plus key planning principles
  2. A series of advices that we have provided to various Local Councils over the last two years tailored to protect confidentiality
  3. A summary of key cases as they arise
  4. Articles written by various members of our team that are of relevance to the Local Councils

Name

Josh Bignell

Qualifications

  • Qualifications Bachelor of Laws (Syd) (2002)
  • Admitted as Solicitor in NSW (2002)
  • Law Society of NSW Accredited Specialist – Property Law (2007)
  • Admitted to practice in United Kingdom (2007)

Position

Partner, Divisional Leader of Property & Town Planning

Practice Areas

  • Planning, Local Government and Environment Law
  • Local Government Property Law
  • Conveyancing

Work Examples

  • To act as the main point of contact for the referral of any matters which may arise
  • To triage matters referred to our office and allocate appropriate lawyer(s) whom will assume the day to day carriage of the file
  • Provide general supervision and assistance to lawyer with respect to matters under their carriage
  • Ensure that reporting and preparation timelines are met
  • Quality assurance
  • Act and advise in matters over which I will have carriage

Personal

On top of Josh’s busy workload and family schedule, Josh was selected and competed for Australia in triathlon at the 2019 World Championships (half ironman distances) held in South Africa and on the Gold Coast (short course distances). Josh has also recently qualified to compete at the Ironman World Championships to be held in Hawaii in October 2019.

Name

Tanya Emmett

Qualifications

  • UOW - Bachelor of Commerce (Management) 2004
  • UOW - Bachelor of Laws 2004
  • UOW – Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice 2004

Position

Associate

Practice Areas

Experienced in the areas of planning, local government and environmental law, property law, contracts and commercial law including:

  • Advice and advocacy in NSW Land and Environment Court, Local Court, District Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal proceedings
  • General planning and development advice
  • Drafting and reviewing orders, agreements and contracts and advising in relation to same
  • Advice with respect to interpretation of legislation including Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Local Government Act 1993, Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, Crown Land Management Act 2016, Roads Act 1993, regulations, environmental planning instruments, development control plans and related legislation and policies
  • Property transactional and related commercial work including residential, rural and commercial conveyancing, easements, subdivisions, possessory title, public land management issues
  • Leases and licences of land including of public and Crown land
  • Advice and drafting of agreements with respect to matters under the Roads Act 1993
  • Compulsory acquisition negotiations and procedures

Work Examples

Proceedings in Class 3 of the NSW Land and Environment Court’s jurisdiction involving the assessment of compensation in a compulsory acquisition matter where Council was the acquiring authority. Proceedings involved various case management conferences and the involvement of experts in the fields of town planning and valuation.

Successful proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court’s Class 5 criminal jurisdiction, involving development without consent where financial gain was a significant contributing factor.

The production of lease (including for commercial and retail uses) and licence templates for council’s ongoing use.

Personal

Cooking, yoga, stand up paddle boarding, snowboarding.

Name

Robert Foster

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Laws (2008)
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (2008)
  • Lieutenant, Royal Australian Navy Reserve

Position

Associate

Practice Areas

  • Commercial litigation
  • Civil litigation
  • Contract review, including construction/works contracts, mergers, employment contracts
  • Employment law

Work Examples

  • Large scale commercial contract review for the merger and privatisation of NSW Government services
  • Urgent/large scale commercial litigation in the Supreme Court of NSW and various other jurisdictions
  • Lodgement and removal of caveats
  • Contested unfair dismissal applications
  • Pre-employment contract review

Personal

  • Robert grew up in the Shoalhaven region, and continues to reside there with his partner
  • He enjoys visiting the region's many wineries, as well as recreational activities such as kayaking and bush walking.

Name

Michael Lewis

Qualifications

Solicitor

Position

Partner

Practice Areas

  • Leasing
  • Sale of Businesses
  • Review of Contracts
  • Drafting of Contracts

Work Example

  • Drafting and advice on waste management contract

Personal

Surfing, spending time with the family and reading.

Name

Craig Osborne

Qualifications

Degrees in Commerce and Law, UNSW 1987

Position

Managing Partner since 1999

Practice Areas

  • Design Best Practice continuous improvement models
  • Employment Contracts
  • Delegation Powers
  • Public Liability
  • Strategy for Business Plans
  • Strategy for Litigation
  • Dispute Resolution and Negotiation

Work Examples

  • Contracted to advise Council as to significant risk management issues concerning serious injuries to several invitees to the Mermaid Pool area
  • Advice to resist State Government Council merger proposals
  • Acting against Council – significant shop top housing developments on Flinders Street Wollongong DA Refused. Litigation taken on constructive basis with full visibility and transparency with Wollongong Council. DA Declined was moved to DA Approval following dispute resolution processes

Personal

  • Sport and Sport Administration
  • Soccer, cricket, Rugby League
  • Nickname OZZIE “not a bad coach”.

Name

Harley Purnell

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Laws, University of Wollongong
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Australian National University
  • Admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW

Position

Associate

Practice Areas but in the Local Council context only

To provide Council with advice and assistance in relation to the following practice areas:

  • Commercial Law
  • Building and Construction
  • Planning
  • Green Field Development
  • Real Property
  • Intellectual Property
  • Native Title
  • Roads
  • Compulsory Acquisition
  • Public Private Partnerships and Infrastructure Delivery

Work Examples

  • Harley provided Orange Council with assistance in connection with the Macquarie Orange Pipeline Project throughout 2014 – 2018
  • Harley provided Forbes Council with assistance in connection with Native Title, Compulsory Acquisition and Real Property transactions throughout 2014 – 2018
  • Harley provided Blue Mountains Council with assistance in connection with Building and Construction (front end and back end), Asbestos Liabilities, Security Cameras, Roads Act - Acquisitions and Liabilities and Waste Management/Disputes

Personal

Harley (Harls) grew up in the Kiama and Gerringong area and has been a member of, and rowed surfboats with, Gerringong Surf Club since 2007.

Name

Chris Sheppard

Qualifications

  • Batchelor of Laws (Honours)
  • Batchelor of Commerce (Industrial Relations)
  • Registered to Practice in NSW and the High Court of Australia
  • Law Society of NSW Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law

Position

Equity Partner

Practice Areas

  • Workplace Relations and Employment Law
  • Personal injury / insurance claims

Work Examples

Workplace Relations and Employment Law

  • Pre-employment procedures
  • Employment contracts and agreements
  • Award interpretation and compliance
  • Confidentiality agreements and restraints of trade
  • Workplace health and safety – including the investigation and management of critical incidents, advice, policy implementation and defending prosecutions
  • Development of workplace policies and training
  • Disciplinary action and dismissals
  • Defending all types of employment related litigation in the Fair Work Commission, all state and Federal courts and tribunals
  • Defending discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment claims

Personal Injury / Insurance claims

  • Workers’ compensation / work injury damages claim advice and management
  • Public liability claim advice and management

Personal

  • Nineteen years experience in legal practice
  • Multiple directorships in law, legal/business process outsourcing and football
  • Current director who is heavily involved in the operation of the Wollongong Wolves Football Club
  • In 2019 I led the Wollongong Wolves Football Club’s application for entry into the Hyundai A-League.

Name

Steve Warwick

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Law – University of Sydney
  • Bachelor of Arts – University of Sydney

Position

Salaried Partner

Practice Areas

  • Land development (industrial, commercial and residential) including advice regarding subdivision plans, section 88B instruments and contracts for sale
  • Land subdivision sales – drafting contracts for sale, implementing and supervising multi lot projects
  • Elder Law – advising Council in relation to retirement village and related contracts attached to Council owned retirement facilities
  • Drafting and implementing land leasing agreements

Work Examples

  • Elambra Subdivisions (stages 1 -7) at Gerringong for Kiama Council (residential)
  • Woollamia Subdivision for Shoalhaven Council (industrial/commercial)
  • Sales of commercial/industrial land (& facilities) for Shoalhaven Council
  • Purchase of commercial real estate (Shoalhaven Street, Kiama) for Kiama Council
  • Bluehaven Retirement Village advice and contract drafting for Kiama Council (resident and caretaker contracts)

Personal

  • Board member for Kiama & District Business Chamber
  • Stage acting/directing - have appeared in numerous productions for Illawarra and Sydney Theatre companies as well as directing two plays
  • Touch football – play socially with Kiama Rugby Club.

Name

Rebecca Watts

Qualifications

  • Admitted as a Lawyer to the Supreme Court of NSW and High Court of Australia
  • Graduate Diploma in legal practice at the Australian National University
  • Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts distinction average, with a major in sociology and a minor in philosophy at the University of Wollongong
  • Summer Law School Program at the University of Oxford, England with a High Distinction in International Criminal Law and Legal Theory and Intellectual property rights

Position

Lawyer

Practice Areas

Advising on commercial matters including negotiation and preparation of legal documents such as:

  • Licence agreements
  • Leases
  • Contracts and subcontracts
  • Sponsorship agreements
  • Sale and purchase of business and land

Work Examples

  • Presenting seminars on unfair contract terms and work health and safety to councils
  • Drafting and negotiating contracts for council such as council project agreements
  • Reviewing and negotiating license agreements

Personal

Enjoys reading fiction and tries to read every day.

Name

Olivia Yeatman

Qualifications

  • UOW - Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Management) with Distinction
  • UOW - Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
  • ANU – Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice

Position

Associate and Local Government Coordinator

Practice Areas

  • Advice and advocacy in Class 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 proceedings in Land and Environment Court of NSW
  • Advice and advocacy in Local Court, District Court, Supreme Court and NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
  • Planning and development advice and interpretation of legislation including Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, Local Government Act 1993, Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, regulations, environmental planning instruments, development control plans and related legislation, orders and enforcement, voluntary planning agreements
  • Local government advice including tenders and procurement, rates and charges, codes of conduct, delegation rights and responsibilities
  • Property advice including subdivisions, joint ventures, Roads Act agreements and advice, Public and Crown land advice, airports, compulsory acquisitions
  • Commercial law advice including leasing, licensing and other agreements/contracts, civil disputes

Work Examples

  • Saffioti v Kiama Municipal Council [2019] NSWLEC 57
  • Saffioti v Kiama Municipal Council [2018] NSWLEC 1426
  • Alora Davies Developments 104 Pty Ltd v Wollondilly Shire Council [2018] NSWLEC 1379
  • Shoalhaven City Council v Luke Anthony Hayes [2018] NSWLEC 65
  • MKD Architects v Kiama Municipal Council [2018] NSWLEC 1169
  • Parker Logan Property Pty Ltd v Kiama Municipal Council [2017] NSWLEC 1630
  • Precise Planning v Wollondilly Shire Council [2017] NSWLEC 1142
  • Precise Planning v Wollondilly Shire Council [2017] NSWLEC 1143
  • Saffioti v Kiama Municipal Council [2017] NSWLEC 65

Personal

I am also a pilates teacher which is completely different to being a lawyer.

Name

Jodie Pearson

Position

  • Knowledge Management Leader
  • I commenced working in Law in 1987 and joined the RMB team as a result of a merger between RMB Lawyers and Kearns & Garside in 2005
  • I have a Cert IV in Leadership and Management

Technical Skills

I have a high skillset in managing RMB’s knowledge bases including but not limited to Local Government and Town Planning Portal, advice banks, precedents, electronic law library.

I have also developed over time significant skills in software development and one of my major roles for the firm is to assist in continuously improving and automating the firm’s systems to deliver outstanding rapid results for its extensive client base.

I also manage the firm’s ISO 9001:2015 Best Practice system.

Experience in Law

The main areas of my legal experience are in all aspects of Local Government work.

Personal

I was born in Kiama and have lived locally all of my life.

My interests include spending time with family, coastal walks, weekends away and catching up with friends. My ideal weekend is going to a winery with friends to attend a Day on the Green.

My favourite holiday destination is Bali but going back to New York is definitely on my bucket list.