Public Law – Issue 15


In the latest bumper edition of Public Law, we hear from Parks Victoria about their award-winning public spaces that are accessible to all – including the Grampians Peaks Trail and Dementia Friendly Forest; we catch up with Bass Coast Shire Council about why they won their recent employer of choice accolade; and we introduce pro bono partner HalfCut, which hands land titles in the Daintree Rainforest back to the Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. You can also read about the latest developments in climate change law; and gender equality in male-dominated industries. Then have your imagination teased with a book review, and your taste buds tantalised with a favourite recipe.

As always, Public Law is best read with a cuppa. Relax and be inspired.

Kathryn Howard

Kathryn Howard

Head of Hall & Wilcox Public Sector Industry Group
and Editor of the Public Law newsletter    

Kathryn Howard
Kathryn Howard

Kathryn Howard
Partner, Head of Hall & Wilcox Public Sector group

and Editor of the Public Law newsletter

Since I last put pen to paper for Public Law, we have been so inspired by the great work our clients are doing.

In June, we hosted a social and affordable housing luncheon (our first since the pandemic!) where the CEO of NHFIC was in conversation with Andrew Cairns, Haleh Homaei and Katrina Reye about how we can work together with government to solve Australia’s housing shortage.

In July, we toured HousingFirst’s properties where they provide homes for our most underprivileged, together with wrap-around support services that empower their residents.

In August, I addressed the Women of AIRAH leadership breakfast, and was delighted to hear the stories of how female engineers are being embraced and contributing so much to traditionally male-dominated workforces.

Most recently, we caught up with the CEOs of Parks Victoria and Bass Coast Shire Council, and heard about how they drive inclusion and equality.

The theme running throughout these encounters? How much we can achieve when we really see, and empower, each other.

Malcolm Gladwell's Blink discusses how we, as humans, make snap judgements automatically and without even knowing we're doing so. Did you know the average CEO in America is male and three inches taller than the average male? This data shows we associate leadership with imposing physical stature – but who would have said that they refuse promotion on the basis of height?
No one. We do it unconsciously.

So how do we see clearly? By bringing awareness to our unconscious reactions, and consciously applying the same standard to everyone. By recognising each other’s skills, and actively building each other up. By calling out, respectfully, behaviours that fall short.

We hope that you will read on to find practical inspiration in this edition for how we can lead empowered lives. 

Matthew Jackson
Matthew Jackson

By Kelsey Essex Senior Associate Public Sector

Parks Victoria were recently honoured with an impressive nine awards at the 2022 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Victoria and National Architecture Awards. Here we chat to their CEO, Matthew Jackson, about the great work that created this success.

Congratulations! What do you put this success down to?

We are so delighted to have received these awards, which recognise not only the work that Parks Victoria have done but also the work of our many partners. Projects like the ones that received these recent awards take a big team to achieve. Parks Victoria are a ‘we’ organisation, not an ‘I’ organisation, and we rely on the work of our passionate staff, Traditional Owners, community groups, volunteers and government to deliver these ground-breaking projects.

The Grampians Peaks Trail won the Victorian Architecture Medal, the highest honour awarded each year to the most outstanding project across all categories. Tell us about the Trail.

The Grampians Peaks Trail is one of the largest builds in Victoria’s history. It is 160km long and has involved decades of work, involving three local councils, state and federal governments and of course the Traditional Owners of the land. The Trail demonstrates what can be achieved in such a highly sensitive cultural heritage environment.

Parks Victoria’s vision is about getting all people into nature. The Trail caters to a diverse range of people (eg physical abilities and individual budgets), with a diverse range of accommodation. On the Trail, we have hiker huts where you can hike overnight but don’t need a tent, day trips and also dispersed camping.

Healthy Parks Healthy People is a great long-standing initiative to encourage people to connect with nature, which has been picked up internationally. Tell us about this initiative.

It has origins in a concept practised by Traditional Owners for thousands of years – if you look after Country, it will look after you. Parks Victoria started using this tagline in about 2000. I like to think that Traditional Owners set the vision, and Parks Victoria has seen it realised on a global level. At its heart, it means that getting into nature is good for the mind, body and soul.

The data is clear on the health impacts of getting into nature on things like lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and the mental health benefits are currently being measured. I believe the pandemic has caused a transformational change in the way people value public open space. We have seen significant growth in activities like caravanning, mountain biking, fishing, trail runs, etc since the pandemic started in 2020. Visitations to our parks are at record levels. This is something we really want to harness.

The Dementia Friendly Forest and Sensory Trail at Woowookarung in Ballarat is a first of its kind. How important is inclusion for you?

We truly want to ensure that all people have access to nature and its benefits. The first of its kind in Australia, the Sensory Trail is designed for people with dementia and their carers, with a focus on the senses: seeing, smelling, touching and hearing nature. It is accessible for wheelchairs, assistance dogs, and groups from residential aged care facilities.

What’s ahead?

We are currently delivering our ‘Walk Victoria’s Icons’ strategy, which is comprised of four key long-distance walks in Victoria. The first two are the Great Ocean Walk and the Grampians Peaks Trail.

Next up we have the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing. We are expanding the current 37km walk to a 57km walk, and to support more people with varying hiking ability, interest and experience. We expect this phase to be complete by 2024.

The fourth walk is the Cape Conran to Mallacoota walk in the Croajingolong National Park. It is one of the best remote coastal walks you can do in Victoria.

Victoria is unique to offer these different landscapes all within a relatively small area – coastal, alpine, rock-based and with significant Traditional Owner history. The diversity of Victoria’s nature-based tourism offering is one of the state’s strengths, and a real point of difference for Victoria nationally and internationally.

It seems from your history you have a long-term passion for nature?

Absolutely. I was originally a zookeeper by trade. Later I ran the Phillip Island Nature Parks as their CEO. I’ve been CEO of Parks Victoria for nearly six years. It is not just a job for me. It is a privilege for me to be able to protect nature for future generations, and to drive a vision on such a large scale that is about providing a better future for all.

How can someone get involved?

We work with many thousands of volunteers, and value the enormous contribution that they bring to the organisation. A person can jump into an existing group (eg ‘friends of’ groups or other local volunteer groups, etc), they can start their own group or you can register with ParkConnect to become a Parks Victoria volunteer. Take a look at the volunteering page of our website for details.

Bass Coast Shire Council CEO Ali Wastie
Ali Wastie

By Kathryn Howard, Partner, Public Sector Industry Lead

Bass Coast Shire Council recently received the Excellence Award in the Employer of Choice in the Public Sector/Not for Profit category at the 2022 Australian HR Awards. CEO Ali Wastie tells us more.

What does Bass Coast Shire do differently, helping it win such honours?

We provide opportunities for people of all genders, sexual orientation, disability, cultural backgrounds, and age. We introduced our landmark parental leave program aiming to close the gender workplace gap sooner. We also pay superannuation to any person for the first year of parental leave with the goal of reducing the gender super gap.

We frequently consult with our people via Pulse Surveys, our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, Enterprise Bargaining Agreement Representative Group, and project control groups.

We recently obtained the Free From Family Violence Local Government Grant funding to put a spotlight on family violence with our employees and our community. We were the First Local Government in Victoria to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff, lead the way in introducing 16-weeks paid parental leave for all parents, and removed the primary carer reference.

All sporting events held in our community facilities and grounds mandate equal prize money for all genders. We are the first Council to do this, and we are hoping all Councils will follow our lead.

What do you see as the crucial ingredients to attract and retain talented and motivated people?

At Bass Coast Shire Council, our positive culture is underpinned by our core values, and we reward, recognise and celebrate behaviours and actions aligned to our values. Culture is set from the top and in order to be sustained it needs to be expressed every day. We also trust our employees. We offer a hybrid working model, allowing employees to work around their lifestyle and needs. If people choose to work from the office 8.30am-5pm, that’s great. But employees can choose to work around personal important commitments, whether it be starting earlier in the day, working from home, or a combination of flexible work arrangements.

We have significantly increased the number of females working in our Outdoors team. More young people are interested in the two school-based traineeships we added to our Roads and IT teams in 2022. Our career options mean that when people come to work for us they want to stay, from our year nine Work Experience program, through to university student placements in our Planning and Engineering teams, to traineeships and apprenticeships, all the way through to our leadership programs.

Through our performance development planning process, our people identify the learning and development they would like to undertake. The implementation of our Climate Change Action Plan has resulted in all of our people being involved in Climate Emergency training, highlighting our individual and collective responsibilities in achieving our goal of zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The Victorian Government’s ‘Women Leading Locally’ program aims to address gender inequality with a target of having at least 50% female mayors and councillors in local government by 2025. How are you supporting the initiative in Council?

In October, we are hosting a Women Leading Locally Forum to encourage females in Bass Coast to consider standing as a Councillor in the 2024 elections.

At Bass Coast we have three incredible and passionate female councillors: Deputy Mayor Cr Leticia Laing, Cr Clare Le Serve, and Cr Rochelle Halstead, who will lead this forum to connect with as many women as possible, and encourage a more diverse representative group on our Council board. 

What have you been most proud of during your time as CEO?

Creating an innovative, accountable and trusting environment where people want to bring their full selves to work. At Bass Coast, we create better ways of doing things, we celebrate our failures as much as our successes and we are passionate about making a positive difference to the communities we serve.

What’s something about the Bass Coast which makes it special?

Our environment is our economy. We are custodians of the land for a very, very short time and our job is to protect, preserve and try to fix the mess that humans have created.

Where do your greatest challenges occur?

We are referred to as the third tier of Government and it is often inferred as the bottom level of Government. However, I think our greatest challenges are the limitations we place on ourselves. Accepting status quo and not considering other possibilities is a challenge and a risk.

Personally, where do you draw inspiration as a leader?

Nature: the environment can teach us a lot about connectedness, adaptability, systems thinking, relationships. It is also where I draw energy and renewal from.

And people. I’m curious and interested in others, especially those with different experiences to me. I draw inspiration from those who do not seek recognition, the unsung heroes. I am inspired by community leaders who give their time for little external recognition. I am also inspired by young people who find themselves in incredibly difficult situations, including those who find themselves carers when they are still teenagers. I am inspired by people who keep getting up regardless of their circumstances, the asylum seekers and the refugees who become community leaders, who take great personal risks so their children can have better lives than they have had.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

Don’t rush into ‘proper employment’ after graduating from university. Take that extra year or two and see more of the world and live as big as you can. Say yes to more adventure and stop comparing yourself to what others are doing.

How do you recharge your batteries so that you can perform in such a high-profile role?

I find the love in what I do, whether it be watching TV with my children, going on holiday with my family, or training for half marathons. When I stop loving my work it will be time for me to go on another adventure, as Bass Coast and the role I have is too important to not give it my fullest energy, enthusiasm, productivity and creativity.

Caramel Slice on a table with a teacup in the background
Caramel Slice

By Jacqueline McGrath, Special Counsel, Tax

This recipe produces my preferred caramel-to-chocolate ratio – ie more caramel! There are never leftovers when I take this slice to a party.


  • 125g unsalted butter (melted)

  • ½ cup desiccated coconut

  • ½ cup brown sugar 1 cup plain flour

  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate topping

  • 100g Lindt 70% dark chocolate

  • 100g Lindt creamy milk chocolate

  • 2tsp vegetable oil (this stops the chocolate from cracking when cutting into pieces)


Preheat oven to 175°C (fan forced), and line a rectangular baking tray (20cm x 30cm) with baking paper.

For the base, combine the melted butter, coconut, flour, cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl. Stir until combined.

Press the mixture into the baking tray, and bake for 15 minutes until slightly golden on the edges. Remove from the oven, but keep the oven on.

For the caramel, add butter, condensed milk and golden syrup to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture slightly thickened. This should not be longer than 3-5 minutes.

Pour the caramel directly over the base. Place back in the oven for 20 minutes until bubbling and golden. Remove from oven and let sit until cooled to room temperature.

For the chocolate topping, add chocolate and vegetable oil to a saucepan and melt the mixture over a very (very) low heat.

Pour the topping over the caramel. Place the slice in the fridge for about an hour, or until chocolate is no longer soft to touch.

Remove from the tin, slice, and enjoy!

Tech Week with Victor Dominello
Tom McMahon, Ben Hamilton, John Gray, Victor Dominello, Natasha Doherty, Paul Franklin and Jenny Young

In August, Hall & Wilcox’s Technology and Digital Economy industry group hosted our inaugural Tech Week where over five days industry experts explored the latest issues in technology, innovation and the law.

NSW Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello MP delivered the keynote speech launching the week, and across five sessions, tech leaders discussed the most important recent issues and trends, such as blockchain and crypto, the Consumer Data Right, the outlook for mergers and acquisitions in the digital technology industry, and how corporate and government leaders can use technology innovatively to solve problems and drive change.

To learn more, visit our Tech Week page.

Dr Rachel Howard
Dr Rachel Howard

By Dr Rachel Howard

Dr Rachel Howard is an independent consultant who specialises in advising on women and education.

It was a delight to help facilitate a lively discussion on gender equality with more than 100 participants from the traditionally male-dominated ‘heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration’ (HVAC&R) industry, at the Women of AIRAH[1] leadership breakfast.

A repeated theme across the tables was the obvious benefit women bring to male- dominated workplaces. Participants said that new female apprentices had positively influenced the previously male teams, and that their clients had quickly identified the strong communication and organisational traits of female apprentices.

That’s part of the point, isn’t it? Gender balance provides real benefit. Workplaces are better when men and women work together, because we each bring different strengths and perspectives to our roles.

The fact that AIRAH itself has gender balance on its board – and developed a Special Technical Group to address this very issue – is a game changer that is a timely lesson to us all.

How do we address skill shortages in male-dominated areas? By accessing the other half of the population. And how do we do that? Through leadership and practical initiatives. Real change tackles the intangible (eg identifying and calling out unconscious bias) and the tangible (eg ensuring necessary amenities are available on worksites).

All of which is surmountable if the leadership is willing to identify the obstacles and systematically address them.

Another strong theme was dispelling intrinsically embedded gender stereotypes that lead girls to rule out professions before they truly understand them. Employers can make a real difference by connecting the amazing women they have working in non- traditional roles with young school kids – so we open young minds to these professions before prejudices kick in, or subject choices limit their options later on.

Participants also delved into the topic of gender targets. Many made the point that their work is already measured against myriad targets and deadlines – so why not gender targets? So many women of merit inexplicably miss out on jobs they are more than capable of. Targets could just mean that women finally get the roles and promotions they have deserved for decades.

There are many practical steps employers can take to increase gender balance in their workplaces and the benefits are endless – for women, families, workplaces and the overall economy. It was so exciting to see AIRAH energetically tackle that challenge, and to support my sister Kathryn Howard in her address on a topic that we have discussed for many years.

To find out more about the Women of AIRAH (WoA) Special Technical Group (STG), please visit AIRAH WoA STG.

[1] AIRAH: The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Heating

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

By Melinda Woledge, Marketing & Communications Manager

‘What if?’ is a tantalising question for authors. Alternative history books can explore what would have happened, for example, if Germany had won World War Two. For fiction, the question can inspire even more dramatic results, conjuring magic or supernatural elements, which evoke a world almost, but not quite, like the one we live in.

This book opens in 1898, when Joe steps off a train with no idea where he has come from or why he was on the train. He doesn’t recognise the dirty city of ‘Londres’, ruled by the French, and is diagnosed with amnesia. Joe discovers he is an English slave with a wife and baby daughter, but he doesn’t remember them. Occasionally Joe has flashes of a world and a life he knows can’t exist, but his memories don’t return.

One day, Joe receives a postcard of the Eilean Mor lighthouse in the Outer Hebrides, posted 91 years earlier, which reads ‘Dearest Joe, Come home, if you remember’. Visiting the lighthouse, he steps through a time portal that takes him back to 1807, where the war between the English and the French hangs in the balance. Naval officer Kite and his sister Agatha hope Joe’s knowledge of the future will help them win the war. They also seem to know who Joe is, or was, but they won’t answer his questions.

Chapters move between the past and the future, while the mystery of Joe’s identity only deepens. Will Joe’s quest to find out who he is change history, wipe out the people he loves, and perhaps even endanger his own existence? Blending time travel, alternative history and speculative fiction, The Kingdoms is intricately plotted, masterfully evoked, and gorgeously written.

Hall & Wilcox Special Counsel Hamish McNair headshot
Hamish McNair
Hall & Wilcox Partner Penelope Ford headshot
Penelope Ford

By Hamish McNair, Special Counsel, and Penelope Ford, Partner, Commercial Dispute Resolution

‘My initial response was to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realised that I had no character.' – Charles Barkley

Like the rest of the world, the public sector is increasingly using social media to connect with audiences on a deeper level, to share information, promote policy outcomes, and engage with stakeholders.

Inevitably, with additional public engagement comes reputational risk. This can arise through the use of social media accounts to defame individuals associated with government, and risks regarding third parties with no direct connection to the relevant account.

Unsavoury tweets and facebook fails: how liability can arise

While the Crown is prevented from initiating a defamation action to preserve its reputation, the position is different for individuals associated with government, including elected officials and public servants. The use of social media platforms to defame public sector personnel is therefore a live risk.

Potential liability arises from posts made by social media accounts, which identify and defame those able to sue for defamation. Liability can arise for anyone involved in the publication of the post, including the Crown, which may be vicariously liable.

It is important to note various defences may be available in this context: for example, the ‘qualified privilege’ defence, founded on the implied constitutional freedom of political communication; or the defence of ‘innocent dissemination’, which applies to those who unwittingly publish defamatory material without negligence on their part.

However, following the September 2021 High Court decision in Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v Voller (392 ALR 540), owners and administrators of social media accounts can potentially be liable as publishers of posts made by third parties on the accounts they own or manage, even if they immediately remove the offending post on request or of their own accord. There remains an open question about whether the defence of ‘innocent dissemination’ is available.

Tips for managing risk from social media

Implementing a social media policy which covers external engagement is an important element of the risk-management process. The policy should deal with internal guidelines and processes for oversight of social media content posted to public sector accounts. At the very least, a second pair of eyes prior to posting is an effective form of risk management.

Social media administrators may also wish to implement guidelines for third parties posting to public sector accounts, depending on the context. To actively mitigate reputational harm by third parties, you may wish to disable comments or replies (either permanently or during specified times), or subject them to internal sign-off or word filters.

While these solutions are more technological than legal, they will help reduce the risk of public sector accounts being used to defame public sector representatives or third parties.

Meg Lee

By Meg Lee, Partner, Property & Projects

A recent UK High Court decision on the UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy provides important lessons about vague or aspirational targets which cannot be properly quantified.

The Court found the Net-Zero Strategy was inadequate and unlawful, and has allowed eight months for it to be updated.

Why was Government's Net Zero Strategy challenged?

The challenge was brought by environment groups Client Earth, Friends of the Earth and the Good Law Project (Coalition). These groups claimed Net Zero Strategy was vague and lacking detail for delivering legally binding emissions targets.

They alledged the Secretary of State breached certain obligations in the Act, for failing to prepare proposals and policies which enable carbon budgets to be met.

The Coalition claimed the Strategy did not contain any time scales for delivering the proposals and policies, nor did it specify the contribution each proposal would make to meeting the budgets, in breach of the Act.

They also said numerical projections presented by the Secretary of State did not satisfy the duty, showing the policies would reduce emissions by 95% rather than 100% as required by the Act.

What did the Court find?

Interestingly, the Court and the Coalition praised many aspects of the Strategy. But it’s back to the drawing board for the Government, after the Court held:

  • the Secretary of State had failed to comply with section 13(1) of the Act due to not considering the quantitative contributions individual proposals and policies were expected to make to meet the required carbon budgets.
  • they failed to address how a shortfall of 5% on emissions targets would be made up; and did not address the implications of these matters for delivering policies in the Strategy and the carbon budget.
  • the Strategy failed to comply with the obligation in section 14(1) of the Act to set out proposals and policies for meeting the carbon budgets for the current and future budgetary periods.
  • it failed to include information on the quantitative contributions individual proposals and policies were expected to make to meeting those carbon budgets. 

What are the implications for Australian Governments?

The case highlights the importance of providing detailed analysis and briefings to duty holders, to ensure they are appropriately informed when discharging duties under climate legislation.

This also reinforces the sentiment that ‘greenwishing’ is no longer sufficient in the context of setting Net Zero targets.

Nor is setting aspirational targets without clear, transparent, and quantifiable policies to achieve such targets via detailed calculations.

Australia does not have equivalent legislation, but it is likely the Climate Change Act 2022 (Cth) will pass next month. This legislation sets up a similar regime and requirements to those in the UK for annual statements to be prepared by the relevant Minister and presented to Parliament about Australia’s progress towards achieving our Nationally Determined Contributions (ie our 2030 and 2050 emissions targets).

As such, the UK case is a cautionary tale about having clear processes in place, ensuring detailed analysis and briefing information is provided to the Minister in preparing the Annual Statement.

Watch this space!

Hall & Wilcox Partner Nathan Kennedy headshot
Nathan Kennedy
Hall & Wilcox Lawyer Andrew Banks headshot
Andrew Banks

Nathan Kennedy, Partner and Co-Lead ESG

By Andrew Banks, Lawyer

HalfCut is a social and environmental organisation which buys back private property in the Daintree Rainforest and hands the land titles back to the ownership and management of the Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people – the oldest living culture in the world's oldest living rainforest.

HalfCut achieves this by working with their partners to fundraise for rainforest buyback, regeneration and conservation. This also helps to protect threatened and endangered species, which they call ‘Rewilding’.

HalfCut is led by co-founders Jimmy and Jessica Stanton-Cooke. HalfCut’s name recognises the sad reality that over half the world’s rainforests have been cut down. To raise awareness and drive fundraising, Jimmy shaved off half his beard and HalfCut was started!

HalfCut works in close collaboration with the Jabalbina Aboriginal Corporation (made up of and representing the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people) and Rainforest4 (a conservation organisation). The alliance between these organisations is called Stronger Together, a perfect match for our Hallmark at Hall & Wilcox that we are all Better Together.

We support HalfCut with pro bono legal services, with recent work led by Michelle Eastwell and John Gray, partners in our Corporate & Commercial team. We also raise money for their fundraising campaigns.

Earlier in the year, Jabalbina, Rainforest4 and HalfCut invited Hall & Wilcox and other partners to join them for a week in the Daintree to learn about the land, and the history and culture of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. Andrew Banks and Claire Eichorn from Hall & Wilcox were thrilled to attend. They found the handover ceremony, involving 10 recently purchased lots of land handed back to Traditional Ownership, a wonderful moment to experience.

Queensland Government representatives also attended the handover ceremony, and the State Government is working with Jabalbina to jointly manage the National Parks that are part of Eastern Kuku Yalanji land. This also leads to employment opportunities for local communities.

We were pleased to recently host HalfCut at our Sydney office to present to the firm, where we were also joined remotely by Aunty Lyn, the previous chairperson of Jabalbina. We look forward to our ongoing relationship and the exciting next steps in our partnership.

Further information about our partnership with HalfCut can be seen in this video.

Partner, Kitty Vo
Kitty Vo

By Kitty Vo, Co-Lead NSW Government Practice, Partner, Property & Projects

Shhh… I could tell you something, but then I would have to…

On second thoughts, let’s not do anything drastic. Let’s reach for a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) instead.

An NDA or confidentiality agreement is an agreement whereby the contracting parties agree not to disclose confidential or sensitive information (Confidential Information) to third parties without the other party’s consent.

There are a few key elements, which comprise the structure of NDAs:

  • Parties: identifying all parties involved (generally referred to as the ‘disclosing party’ and the ‘recipient’).
  • Confidential Information: what do the parties define to be ‘confidential information’?
  • Term: how long must the parties keep the information confidential and what must be done with the information after the term ends?
  • Scope of Obligations: what steps must the recipient take to keep information confidential, and what are the consequences of a breach?
  • Exceptions: What type of confidential information is excluded from the NDA?

Some of these elements are explored below.

What is confidential information?

There are competing interests in defining confidential information. The disclosing party would understandably prefer to expand the meaning of what is confidential information, where as the recipient of confidential information will seek to limit the information that is confidential.

Scope of obligations

The recipient should consider what steps it is prepared to take to keep the information confidential and be clear about it. What are reasonable steps? Necessary steps?

Whatever the parties decide, it is essential to be clear about what is required to maintain confidentiality, and who has to do it. This means thinking about affected third parties too.

The NDA can also stipulate the parties’ obligations and procedures governing press releases.


Parties must consider what information to exclude from the recipient’s obligations under the NDAs. Depending on the circumstances, this might be information that:

  • is already in the public domain;
  • was already known to the recipient before the NDA was entered into;
  • must be disclosed to comply with law, a court order or a stock exchange.

Whether you are a discloser or a recipient, consider the key questions before signing document.

National Public Sector Webinar Series

This webinar series is tailored to the public sector with several webinars still to come during 2022, covering topics including: enterprise agreements; business and human rights; governance and Victoria’s IBAC; and contract disputes.

For information and to register, visit the Public Law National Webinar Series page.

Key Experts Talk Social & Affordable Housing

Hall & Wilcox was pleased to bring together an outstanding panel of social and affordable housing experts at a recent Melbourne event. The panel included Nathan Dal Bon, CEO, NHFIC (The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation), Haleh Homaei - GAICD, CEO, HousingFirst Ltd, and Andrew Cairns, CEO, Haven Home Safe. They provided strong insights into how community housing providers, developers and financiers can work more effectively together with government to help deliver Australia’s social economic infrastructure.


Kathryn Howard

Kathryn leads the Public Sector industry group at Hall & Wilcox, and is a commercial dispute resolution practice partner.

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