When the firm established itself we chose not to represent corporate organisations, such as insurance companies, local government and the like. We have generally stuck to that. We do, however, represent a large range of community groups and incorporated associations. Beyond that, the family law practice means that we represent lots of children and people involved in family law related litigation.
In recent years, the firm has represented former Tasmanian Police Commissioner, Jack Johnston, in criminal proceedings in the Supreme Court, and subsequently in the High Court.
FitzGerald and Browne represented Senator Bob Brown in the Wielangta case, which was commenced in the Federal Court of Australia in 2005. That case involved proceedings against Forestry Tasmania for breach of the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, as a result of logging and proposed logging operations in Wielangta State Forest, near Hobart. The case was run on the basis that the forestry operations were likely to have a significant impact upon three listed threatened species, being the Wedge Tailed Eagle, the Wielangta Stag Beetle and the Swift Parrot. Senator Brown was successful in those proceedings and obtained injunctions preventing any further logging in the Wielangta area by Forestry Tasmania. That case was argued on the basis of the terms of the Regional Forest Agreement 1997, between Tasmania and the Commonwealth. Immediately after the announcement of the judgment, the Federal Government and the State of Tasmania amended the terms of the RFA and then filed an appeal against the judgment of the trial judge. The Full Court of the Federal Court found in favour of Forestry Tasmania.
This firm also acted for The Wilderness Society Inc. in proceedings in the Federal Court against the Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, and Gunns Limited in relation to the process to be adopted for the approval of the proposed Gunns pulp mill in the beautiful Tamar Valley.
In 2008, we represented Environment Tasmania Inc. and three Tamar Valley landholders in further proceedings in relation to the proposed pulp mill, this time in the Supreme Court of Tasmania. These proceedings were unsuccessful, with the Supreme Court finding that s. 11 of the Pulp Mill Assessment Act precluded any court challenge to any issue arising out of the decision to grant the permit for the construction of the pulp mill.
The firm represented the Triabunna 13, who were sued for trespass arising out of a protest in January 2009 at Gunns’ woodchip mill at Triabunna. The Triabunna 13, or at least 11 of them, counterclaimed against Gunns, alleging that Gunns Limited and its employee, Calton Frame, engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in asserting that no old growth tree or no old growth forests will be used in the construction of the proposed pulp mill. That litigation settled..
More recently, we have taken on a case for a girl who was meant to be under the supervision of her guardian, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She is intending to sue the Secretary (and others). Because the government would not agree to fund her in obtaining medical reports, we launched a public fund. As at November 2010, the fund has raised over $10,000.
In October 2011 we launched proceedings in the Supreme Court against Gunns Limited on behalf of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust Inc. (TCT) alleging the permit issued to Gunns under the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 was invalid, as there had been no substantial commencement of the project by Gunns. An application by Gunns that TCT pay security for its costs was dismissed by the Court in April 2012. Gunns’ appeal to a Judge was dismissed in August 2012. Gunns went into administration and receivership in September 2012.