Working on Kaurna lands (Adelaide)
Since migrating from the United Kingdom, I have worked across Australia and grown my expertise in Aboriginal land rights and native title, defamation and commercial law.
Starting his working life as a commercial lawyer, Richard initially practised in England and Wales. He migrated to Australia in 1978 and, after three years practising commercial law in Sydney, was appointed a senior legal officer (and subsequently the principal legal officer) of the Pitjantjatjara Council (APY) based in Alice Springs.
There he advised the Council, APY and Ngaanyatjarra Council on land, mining, commercial and other legal issues. Richard joined Johnston Withers in 1990 and became a director of the firm in 1996, bringing with him his expertise in Aboriginal land rights and native title, defamation and commercial law.
Richard works with Aboriginal groups in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. He:
Acts on behalf of claimants in native title claims (including compensation claims)
Negotiates mining and petroleum exploration and production agreements in relation to Aboriginal freehold and native title land
Negotiates joint management agreements and ILUAs in relation to national parks and other conservation areas
Negotiates with governments, mining companies and other bodies
Advises Land Councils and other representative bodies on land rights, native title and related commercial issues
Advises on laws for the protection of Aboriginal heritage
Richard’s other primary area of practice is defamation law. He was involved in the landmark Chakravarti High Court decision, which resulted in our client being awarded what was at the time the state’s highest defamation payout. He has represented a number of high profile clients (including South Australia’s then Premier, Mike Rann) in their defamation actions.
Richard has authored and presented many papers on land rights and native title, and also on defamation.
“Intuition suggests that the remarkable features of the Internet (which is still changing and expanding) makes it more than simply another medium of human communication. It is indeed a revolutionary leap in the distribution of information, including about the reputation of individuals.."
Parliament has for some time been facing increased pressure from media publishers to amend Australia’s uniform defamation laws to strike the right balance between a person’s right to freedom of speech and the need to protect a person’s reputation from slander.
Our firm has been involved in two actions before the South Australian Supreme Court in which the Court has been prepared to make findings and orders protecting defamed plaintiffs.