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Having worked for a range of Commonwealth Departments and agencies, Ian Temby is highly regarded for his technical skill, judgment and attention to detail, and considered one of Australia's leading lawyers in public law.

As a Commonwealth Government public law specialist, Ian has a focus on administrative law advice, litigation and dispute resolution, but also regularly advises Commonwealth clients on contractual, tort and risk management issues, including liability claims, and the conduct of inquiries and investigations. Ian’s dispute resolution methodology is to attempt resolution of claims at least cost to his clients, including by refining complex issues, managing disputes efficiently and by the use of alternative dispute resolution processes wherever possible. 

He has represented his clients in major Commonwealth, NSW, ACT and Victorian courts and tribunals and has appeared as a solicitor advocate in the High Court, the Federal Court, the Federal Circuit Court, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. 

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Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Administrative and Public Law

Government client: Ian has represented the Minister in a large number of proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court/Federal Circuit Court, the Federal Court and the High Court. The proceedings involved applications brought by failed visa applicants for review of decisions of the Minister, the Migration Review Tribunal and the Refugee Review Tribunal. Ian appeared as an advocate in a large proportion of his matters and has been successful in each of his court hearings (totalling approximately 50 final hearings).

Government client: Ian has represented this client in numerous Federal Court first instance and Full Court appeal proceedings involving applications by medical practitioners pursuant to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth) and the Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth) to set aside the decisions of various bodies operating under the PSR Scheme. Many of these cases involved complicated statutory interpretation issues and complex administrative law questions, including the application of statistical sampling methodologies and the use of implied powers.

Government client: Ian acts on behalf of the Minister and the Anti-Dumping Review Panel in several proceedings challenging the calculation of dumping duty imposed on the import of particular goods under the Customs Act 1901 and the Customs Tariff (Anti-Dumping) Act 1975. These matters require an understanding of technical and detailed evidence regarding the method for calculating dumping margins, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the application of administrative law principles to complex factual scenarios.

Government client: Ian acted on behalf of the Minister in politically sensitive Federal Court proceedings challenging the Minister’s decision not to grant an application for a declaration under section 10 or 12 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act. The application had been brought on behalf of a group of Aboriginal people to protect certain trees and their surrounding area, which the applicants claimed were of cultural significance to Aborigines and would be impacted by road works planned by the Victorian State Government with respect to the Western Highway. The matter garnered significant media interest, particularly in the context of large public protests against the road works.

Government client: Ian acted for the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia (the Commonwealth Minister member of the Commonwealth-Western Australia Offshore Petroleum Joint Authority) in Federal Court proceedings brought by the former holder of oil and gas exploration permits, which were not renewed as a result of a failure to comply with certain conditions of the permits. Ian was able to assist the Department to resolve the matter following mediation, and subsequent negotiation with the applicant and the State of Western Australia.

Government client: Ian represented the Department in Federal Court proceedings brought by Senator Brown against Forestry Tasmania. Ian assisted the Commonwealth to join the proceedings as an intervener in order to make submissions in relation to the interpretation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and certain forestry agreements entered into between the Commonwealth and the State of Tasmania.

Government client: Ian acted in a number of AAT proceedings involving merits review applications brought by applicants who have had their visas cancelled on character grounds due to a substantial criminal record. Ian appeared as a solicitor-advocate in each of these matters.

Government client: Ian has represented the Board of Innovation and Science Australia in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in proceedings brought in relation to decisions made by Innovation and Science Australia under the Industry, Research and Development Act 1986 in relation to the registration of research and development activities for the purpose of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, which has involved consideration of a range of claimed activities including software development, computing, biochemical products, treatment of addiction, production of energy from municipal solid waste, coal mining and clean coal production. Several of these proceedings were significant and complex and involved large volumes of evidence. One involved over 150,000 pages of evidence and 6 expert witnesses and concerned the largest ever claim brought under the legislation.

Government client: Ian represented the Minister in AAT proceedings brought by a public interest group with respect to a decision to allow beach-cast wrack to be harvested and exported from beaches in south-east South Australia. The proceedings involved complex issues concerning the nature of the protection given to the foraging and roosting habitat of potentially affected birds, and expert evidence on that question, and the application of particular provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (Cth) in the context of that evidence. Ian assisted the Department to resolve the matter at a conciliation conference on the first day of the hearing.

Government client: Ian has successfully represented the Secretary in several AAT proceedings for the remission of HECS and FEE-HELP debts on the basis that there were exceptional circumstances why the applicants did not withdraw from their courses before the census date, including as solicitor-advocate. Ian also appeared as solicitor-advocate in a Federal Court appeal from a decision of the AAT in one of these matters.

Government client: Ian has successfully represented the Secretary in several AAT proceedings challenging decisions of the Secretary to cancel an applicant’s childcare operator’s licence, including as solicitor-advocate.

Government client:: Ian successfully represented the Secretary in proceedings concerning a decision not to grant approval to a company to be an approved aged care provider under the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth).

Government client: Ian represent the Department in AAT proceedings brought against the Minister by an e-waste recycling company for the refusal of an application for an e-waste export permit. The matter involved a wide range of issues relating to the environmental effects of recycling processing options, the economic viability of those options and insurance requirements for waste exports.


Commercial disputes

Government client: Ian represented the Commonwealth in the defence of a multi-million dollar claim brought against it and one of its contractors in the commercial list of the NSW Supreme Court. The claim related to a large-scale services contract and involved alleged misrepresentations and negligent representations on the part of the Commonwealth, as well as alleged breaches of contract and claims in restitution. Ian was able to resolve the matter at mediation. 

Government client: Ian represented the Commonwealth in relation to a series of disputes arising out of the Department's provision of funding to a number of education providers to provide training to aged care workers, including in regional and remote areas of Australia. Disputes arose when the providers failed to achieve all of the milestones set out in the funding agreements and one of the providers subsequently became subject to external administration. Ian advised the department in relation to its entitlement to withhold money under the agreements and in relation to its potential recovery rights.

Government client: Ian advised on the Department’s rights in relation to two funding agreements the Commonwealth entered into under the Empowering YOUth initiatives scheme, including on termination rights and claims for compensation.

Government client: Ian advised on:

  • the Department’s termination rights pursuant to a Contract concerning the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Site;
  • the Department’s rights pursuant to a Deed to reclaim uncommitted funds given to the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute;
  • the Department’s termination rights pursuant to a Funding Agreement for the Innovative Prefabricated Building Systems project.

Government client: Ian advised on the interpretation of a contract entered into with a Defence contractor for the development of certain electronic support measures equipment, including the contractor's obligations in relation to the functionality of the equipment, its failure to meet certain contractual milestones and the need to adopt risk management strategies to protect the Commonwealth's commercial interests.


Infrastructure/property disputes

Government client: Ian represented the Commonwealth in defending a claim brought by a building contractor for approximately $1.5 million which, the claimant alleged, was owed to it either under contract or on a quantum merit basis for work performed in relation to the fit out of Centrelink's national office building. Consideration of the claim required assessment of a considerable volume of documents and numerous interviews with Centrelink staff to assess Centrelink's position. Ian assisted the Commonwealth to settle the claim in a way which was compliant with the Legal Services Directions, which avoided escalation of the dispute to court proceedings, and which allowed the Commonwealth to retain the right to bring proceedings against the contractor in the future in relation to certain counter-claims it sought to raise in response to the contractor's claim.

Government client: Ian advised on a lease dispute with its landlord concerning its national office building. Ian advised in relation to the interpretation of the Department's entitlement to withhold rent as a result of breaches of the lease by the landlord and the Department's capacity to recover rent mistakenly paid in excess of its obligation to pay rent in the context of the landlord's failure to provide premises which were fit for the permitted use under the lease from the lease commencement. Ian provided advice to the Department in relation to the compliance of a settlement agreement reached with the landlord, with the Legal Services Directions.

Government client: Ian advised on the interpretation of its make good obligations under a number of leases it sought to terminate, including whether the payment of compensation would be in accordance with the Legal Services Directions.


Liability claims and risk management advice

Private client: Ian acted in an application under the Jurisdiction of Courts (Cross-Vesting) Act 1993 (ACT) to transfer proceedings from the ACT Supreme Court to the NSW Supreme Court. The case involved complex issues concerning the jurisdiction of the ACT Supreme Court to apply Federal Law (the Civil Aviation (Carriers Liability) Act 1959 (Cth)) in circumstances where the tort had occurred overseas and neither the plaintiff nor the defendant were resident in the ACT.

Government client: acting in a large number of public liability and professional indemnity claims, including:

  • a class (representative) action brought against the Department of Home Affairs on behalf of approximately 10,000 former immigration detainees for the release of their personal information in an online report published by the Department. The claim involved complex questions regarding the evidence required to establish loss on the part of the complainants, and the appropriate methodology to assess loss in the context of a representative complainant where the impact of the breach was not uniform across the complainants.
  • a claim made on behalf of the Palmer United Party for expenses incurred as a result of having to recontest the Federal Election for the WA Senate following the loss of ballot papers during the original election in 2013. The case raised complex, and novel, issues, regarding the duty of care owed by an electoral authority for the conduct of an election in Australia (resolved on the basis that the Plaintiff withdraw his claim) 
  • several claims from former immigration detainees for psychological harm suffered during their detention, which the claimants allege resulted from inadequate measures being taken for their health and welfare 
  • several claims from former immigration detainees for alleged unlawful imprisonment 
  • two separate claims where the claimant alleged that he had been assaulted by AFP officers (both claims successfully defended at trial); and
  • numerous personal injury claims.

See Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Administrative and Public Law

Judicial review proceedings

Government client: Ian has represented the Minister in a large number of proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court/Federal Circuit Court, the Federal Court and the High Court. The proceedings involved applications brought by failed visa applicants for review of decisions of the Minister, the Migration Review Tribunal and the Refugee Review Tribunal. Ian appeared as an advocate in a large proportion of his matters and has been successful in each of his court hearings (totalling approximately 50 final hearings).

Government client:  Ian has represented PSR Committees in numerous Federal Court first instance and Full Court appeal proceedings involving applications by medical practitioners pursuant to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth) and the Judiciary Act 1903(Cth) to set aside the decisions of various bodies operating under the PSR Scheme. Many of these cases involved complicated statutory interpretation issues and complex administrative law questions, including the application of statistical sampling methodologies and the use of implied powers.

Government client: Ian acts on behalf of the Minister and the Anti-Dumping Review Panel in several proceedings challenging the calculation of dumping duty imposed on the import of particular goods under the Customs Act 1901 and the Customs Tariff (Anti-Dumping) Act 1975. These matters require an understanding of technical and detailed evidence regarding the method for calculating dumping margins, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the application of administrative law principles to complex factual scenarios.

Government client: Ian acted on behalf of the Minister in politically sensitive Federal Court proceedings challenging the Minister’s decision not to grant an application for a declaration under section 10 or 12 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act. The application had been brought on behalf of a group of Aboriginal people to protect certain trees and their surrounding area, which the applicants claimed were of cultural significance to aborigines and would be impacted by road works planned by the Victorian State Government with respect to the Western Highway. The matter garnered significant media interest, particularly in the context of large public protests against the road works.

Government client: Ian acted for the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia (the Commonwealth Minister member of the Commonwealth-Western Australia Offshore Petroleum Joint Authority) in Federal Court proceedings brought by the former holder of oil and gas exploration permits, which were not renewed as a result of a failure to comply with certain conditions of the permits. Ian was able to assist the Department to resolve the matter following mediation, and subsequent negotiation with the applicant and the State of Western Australia.

Government client: Ian represented the former Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Federal Court proceedings brought by Senator Brown against Forestry Tasmania. Ian assisted the Commonwealth to join the proceedings as an intervener in order to make submissions in relation to the interpretation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and certain forestry agreements entered into between the Commonwealth and the State of Tasmania.


AAT proceedings

Government client: Ian acted in a number of AAT proceedings involving merits review applications brought by applicants who have had their visas cancelled on character grounds due to a substantial criminal record. Ian appeared as a solicitor-advocate in each of these matters.

Government client: Ian has represented the Board of Innovation and Science Australia in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in proceedings brought in relation to decisions made by Innovation and Science Australia under the Industry, Research and Development Act 1986 in relation to the registration of research and development activities for the purpose of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, which has involved consideration of a range of claimed activities including software development, computing, biochemical products, treatment of addiction, production of energy from municipal solid waste, coal mining and clean coal production. Several of these proceedings were significant and complex and involved large volumes of evidence. One involved over 150,000 pages of evidence and 6 expert witnesses and concerned the largest ever claim brought under the legislation.

Government client:  Ian represented the Minister in AAT proceedings brought by a public interest group with respect to a decision to allow beach-cast wrack to be harvested and exported from beaches in south-east South Australia. The proceedings involved complex issues concerning the nature of the protection given to the foraging and roosting habitat of potentially affected birds, and expert evidence on that question, and the application of particular provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (Cth) in the context of that evidence. Ian assisted the Department to resolve the matter at a conciliation conference on the first day of the hearing.

Government client: Ian has successfully represented  the Secretary in several AAT proceedings for the remission of HECS and FEE-HELP debts on the basis that there were exceptional circumstances why the applicants did not withdraw from their courses before the census date, including as solicitor-advocate. Ian also appeared as solicitor-advocate in a Federal Court appeal from a decision of the AAT in one of these matters.

Government client: Ian has successfully represented the Secretary in several AAT proceedings challenging decisions of the Secretary to cancel an applicant’s childcare operator’s licence, including as solicitor-advocate.

Government client: Ian successfully represented the Secretary in proceedings concerning a decision not to grant approval to a company to be an approved aged care provider under the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth).

Government client: Ian represents the Department in AAT proceedings brought against the Minister by an e-waste recycling company for the refusal of an application for an e-waste export permit. The matter involved a wide range of issues relating to the environmental effects of recycling processing options, the economic viability of those options and insurance requirements for waste exports.


Administrative law/Statutory interpretation advice

Ian provides advice on statutory interpretation and the scope of statutory powers, across a wide range of legislation, including in a regulatory context, principally to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Home Affairs, Comcare and APVMA.

  • Government client: Ian gave administrative law advice in relation to applications for redress of grievance made by members of the ADF under the Defence Force Regulations 1952 and the Defence Regulation 2016, including the preparation of draft statements of reasons. The grievances raised a wide range of issues concerning the conditions of the members’ service, from entitlements to termination of service decisions. 
  • Government client: Ian gave administrative law advice and prepared statements of reasons in relation to claims for compensation under the act of grace scheme and applications for the waiver of debts owed to the Commonwealth.
  • Government client: Ian has given numerous administrative law advices and draft statements of reasons with respect to applications for reconsideration of decisions to refuse compensation under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.
  • Government client: Ian has provided a number of advices on the operation of the Biosecurity Act 2015, including advising on the capacity of the Director of Biosecurity to suspend an approved arrangement under the Act.
  • Government client: Ian has advised on the performance of statutory functions and the exercise of power in the context of the National Redress Scheme.

Ian advises on major projects, including:

  • on the implementation of new legislation, including the preparation of decision maps, cost recovery impact statements and draft regulations
  • involving a review of all of its delegations, the preparation of updated instruments of delegation, the preparation of an electronically searchable table of delegations and the provision of advice in relation to the scope of the powers being delegated
  • preparing a handbook setting out the requirements for the exercise of compliance powers of the MDBA, including the preparation of draft notices
  • regarding its functions as the operator of the Community Grants Hub, including the preparation of a report identifying strategies for managing legal risk in the performance of its statutory functions and the exercise of delegations, and the preparation of template instruments of delegation; and
  • regarding the preparation of a handbook to guide the exercise of compliance powers under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.

See Administrative and Public Law

Government Services

Inquiries and investigations 

Government client: Ian acted as an Inquiry Assistant in an Inquiry Officer Inquiry, appointed by the Chief of Navy under regulations 69 and 70A of the Defence (Inquiry) Regulations 1985, to inquire into whether a naval legal officer was subject to improper influence from his chain of command in the execution of his duties. Ian assisted the Inquiry Officer to review a large number of documents and interview several witnesses, as well as in the preparation of the Inquiry Officer's report. 

Government client: Ian acted on an Inquiry being held by the NSW Coroner into the 2013 bush fires in the Blue Mountains. This involved briefing witnesses, preparing for court hearings; liaising with the Coroner's Office and Counsel Assisting, obtaining evidence, briefing counsel and strategic planning. 

Government client: Ian has undertaken investigations, as an authorised officer under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. This required reviewing a large number of documents, interviewing a large number of witnesses and preparing a detailed report which made findings in relation to a wide range of allegations. 

Government client: Ian has provided several advices to the Department on the application of the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

Home Insulation Program Royal Commission: Ian advised and represented two of the witnesses, which involved advising the witnesses as to the Royal Commission process, preparing witness statements and preparing submissions to the Commission. 


Debt recovery 

Ian's debt recovery experience includes advising on the recoverability of debts for the purposes of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (previously the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997) and the pursuit of recoverable debts. He has done so successfully for a number of agencies, both through informal and formal court processes (including enforcement proceedings such as applications for garnishee orders and winding up proceedings), in State and Federal courts: 

  • advising several government departments on a range of debts, including debts arising from costs orders, salary overpayments, statutory charges, and contractual breaches (including breaches of funding agreements);
  • Government client: acting on a winding up proceedings to recover a debt owed by an aircraft company. Ian was able to recover the full sum owing through negotiation and the entering into by the parties of a six month repayment deed. 

Document production and discovery

Government client: Ian assisted the Department it its discovery of documents relevant to the Oakey class action (concerning PFAS contamination of land), which involved manual and electronic review of hundreds of thousands of documents over a short time period.

Government client: Ian advised the Department and representing the Secretary in relation to several summons (and notices for non-party production), including in civil proceedings and under the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 (Cth), including advising on appropriate objections under the Evidence Act 2011 (ACT), the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991 (ACT) and under the common law, appearing before the relevant civil and military courts and providing support to Defence witnesses summonsed to giver oral evidence.

See Government Services

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