Since TMR’s last post on the QUT section 18C case, some have speculated whether Ms Prior was funded on a no-win, no fee basis. TMR puts this theory to the test.
Firstly, going to page two of the summary judgment, we can see that Ms Prior’s solicitors were Susan Moriarty & Associates.
On top of this, we can also see that ‘Ms Anderson’ also appeared as counsel on the summary dismissal application for Ms Prior. I am not sure whether Ms Anderson is an external barrister from chambers or whether she is an employee of Susan Moriarty & Associates. Obviously, if Ms Anderson is an external barrister and did not agree to act pro bono, then we can assume that her time didn’t come cheap. As a brief aside, paragraph 43 of the judgment does not paint Ms Anderson in the most shining of lights:
Mr Wood was responsible for one post to QUT Stalker Space Facebook group. His post consists of two sentences. The first sentence consists of the following words: “Just got kicked out of the unsigned indigenous computer room.” It is a statement of fact. It is an accurate statement of fact. It is difficult to see how, and counsel for Ms Prior made no attempt to demonstrate how, that statement was reasonably likely to infringe the prescription of s.18C(1)(a).
Next, a quick trip to the website of Susan Moriarty & Associates, shows the following about Susan:
Susan Moriarty, in her role as political advisor to the then Qld Attorney-General, was responsible for sponsoring and promoting Queensland’s first civil rights legislation including Freedom of Information, Judicial Review, Street Marching, Anti-Discrimination and Penalties and Sentences laws.
In 1993, she was appointed as a policy analyst to the Freedom of Information and Administrative Law Division. In 1996, she was appointed Principal Legal Adviser to the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Karen Walters.
In February 1998, she was promoted to Executive Manager, Human Rights and Administrative Law where she administered the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme on behalf of government.
In May 1999, she left the department to set up her own law firm specialising in workplace bullying in the Qld public sector. Since then she has worked tirelessly for the rights of her clients.
Susan Moriarty is a well-respected, highly successful senior lawyer specialising in the employment, human rights, anti-discrimination and industrial spheres of law. She has over 14 years’ experience andremains [TMR: sic] very passionate about securing the best possible outcome for her clients.
Susan’s personal aim is to help her clients reach a timely resolution, allowing them to deal effectively with a difficult and emotional situation and move on to better times.
However, more interesting than Susan’s bio is her firm’s policy on no-win, no fee matters:
Susan Moriarty and Associates do not operate on a no win, no fee basis. There are several reasons no we do not offer this service. No win, no fee is based on a number of assumptions. Firstly, NWNF means that you only pay the lawyer/solicitor if you win. No payments are made for a lost claim except in some cases where additional fees are involved as per the agreement with your legal representative. Legal submissions and ‘external’ fees can be costly and you should consider these when you are considering NWNF.
It is also important to recognize that you may also lose your case and be required to pay the opposing party. This alone can be costly. It is often that NWNF cases are “long shots” – that is there is only a small probability of winning but the “rewards” to both yourself and your legal team may be large.
You should also be careful thinking that any legal firm is suitable if you choose NWNF. It is important that you deal with a reputable, experienced firm and you should read the firm’s testimonials. This is a good way to determine whether your chosen firm is suitable.
So again, I ask: who the hell funded this disgrace?