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The familiar legal adage "Hard cases make bad law" dates back at least as far as the early 1800s. It points to the danger of reacting to an extreme case by making a general, harsh and inflexible law to cover all cases. Wisdom dictates, the adage suggests, that laws are better drafted to target the average - and therefore more common – cases, rather than the extreme ones.
Between 1905 and 1970, generations of First Nations children were forcibly removed from their families, under a policy of so-called ‘protection.’ The 1995 Bringing Them Home report estimated that between ten and thirty-three per cent of all First Nations children were taken from their loved ones.
Confidential communications between lawyers and their clients are sacrosanct. They are subject to legal professional privilege, which means they cannot be disclosed by anyone – including the lawyer – to anyone else - including the government, the courts, the police, or anyone at all - without the client’s express authorisation. That principle has been around for about 500 years, and remains a fundamental tenant of our legal system. But it has, at times, been sorely tested.
This week, as we paused to remember, on the 102nd Remembrance Day, those who fell in foreign fields to defend and preserve our liberties, hopefully we also reflected on a great deal more.
The latest Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, serves up a thought-provoking critique of the unethical and largely unregulated tactics employed by social media platforms, namely surveillance capitalism and data mining, in order to exploit users for commercial benefit. The doco’s director, Jeff Orlowski, seeks to draw a causal link between the rise of these tactics in the 2010’s and broader social, political and economic concerns such as mental health issues, the spread of misinformation/conspiracy theories, and election tampering.
Is it just me, or are we maybe making things just a little more complicated than they really need to be? In the context of litigation, lawyers sometimes need to access and disclose copies of their clients’ financial and other records held by various government bodies. That means getting the client’s written authority to access their records, and then getting in touch with the relevant government institution. That should be pretty simple, right?
Perhaps not surprisingly, I've been deluged recently with enquiries from small business operators and commercial space landlords about rental relief in the time of COVID-19. For those affected, here's a quick snapshot of what's on offer.
Last week was Privacy Awareness Week, which is a curious irony, given the current dilemma faced by millions of Australians – to download or not to download the Federal government's CovidSafe App.
Nyst Legal Associate Jonathan Nyst was this week shortlisted as one of 10 finalists in the Criminal Law division of the national Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards.
With COVID-19 directives flying thick and fast from both federal and state institutions, many of us may be getting a little confused about precisely what we can and can’t do, as a matter of law. Every day, someone asks my advice about the fine detail – "Can I drive in a car with my friend/spouse/lover/sister/workmate?", "Can I walk on the beach with a friend?", "Can I stroll in the park for fresh air?" – and it's not always easy to give a definitive answer. The reason is the day to day requirements at law are not set in stone but rather, like the crisis itself, they’re in a state of continual flux.
Biologist, historian and futurist H G Wells, author of the sci-fi classic The War of the Worlds - a tale of alien invasion and annihilation by pathogen - once famously wrote “Adapt or perish, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” It could be very good advice in today’s troubled times.
It's sometimes said that one man's loss is another man's profit, and that's evidently true, even in these strange and troubled times. Just ask all those previously-struggling toilet paper and face mask makers. One curious example has even arisen in the criminal courts.

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