Australia: Interview with Sudhir Sivarajah, Senior Associate, Moray & Agnew
Last Updated: 3 April 2012

What is your position at Moray & Agnew?

I am a Senior Associate in the Sydney office.

What are your main areas of practice?

Workplace relations and employment law, discrimination law, work health and safety, administrative law, regulatory offences and statutory interpretation.

Where were you working before joining Moray & Agnew?

I have worked in the workplace relations practice group of a large national law firm and a specialist employment practice. More recently, I was a senior solicitor with the NSW Crown Solicitor's Office practising in employment law and administrative law. I also worked as a legal officer with the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (Commission) (as it was then known).

What were some of your memorable experiences?

Two immediately spring to mind. Perhaps the stand out, particularly as it was my earliest legal experience, was working closely with Sir Ronald Wilson, former High Court judge and President of the Commission, as well as a number of former judges and senior legal practitioners on discrimination matters back in the days when the Commission was hearing discrimination matters, and played a significant role in the formation and shaping of an emerging discrimination law and practice.

Since then I have been involved in all aspects of discrimination law and practice including defending and advising in respect of numerous complaints of discrimination, preparing human resource policies and providing advice to the ADB on exemption applications.

Another, which was an early and enlightening experience both from a legal and cultural perspective, was participating in the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development programme, which involved working on an international joint project between the UNDP and Bangladesh Government.

My role was to provide assistance in the development of a national human rights commission in Bangladesh as well as legal policy advice on international law and in particular international human rights and intellectual property. That experience lead me to completing a master in laws degree majoring in international law.

What are some notable employment and industrial issues you have recently been involved with?

Recently, I provided advice in respect of enterprise agreements and construction project agreements in respect of the Barangaroo development within a politically sensitive environment.

I have provided employment advice in relation to a number of major deals both in the private and public sector including in respect of a purchase of a major company in the gas industry, an incentive payment scheme in relation to transactions concerning electricity privatisation, and providing strategic advice in respect of employment protection measures in respect of proposed high profile sales of several Government corporations / businesses.

I have also acted in an industrial dispute concerning redundancies and transfer payments arising from restructuring of an organisation as well as federal industrial proceedings aimed at lowering redundancy payments.

Probably one of the most interesting matters was being involved in providing post transactional employment advice, including preparation of employment contracts and transmission of business advice in respect of the purchase of the Woodlands Bloodstock business from the Ingham family by an entity representing the Australian racing and breeding interests of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, the Ruler of Dubai. This was believed to be the biggest bloodstock deal in history.

What are some notable contentious matters that you have been involved in?

One interesting matter was acting for the NSW Attorney General in respect of Court of Appeal proceedings concerning the jurisdiction of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, which dealt in part with implications of the Kirk High Court decision.

Another was successfully defending urgent declaratory relief action in the Supreme Court taken by a union on behalf of a major liquor chain seeking to trade during Easter.

I have also had conduct of Supreme Court injunctive proceedings concerning conflict of interest, administration of justice, breach of fiduciary relationship, disclosure of confidential information, as well involved in the conduct of a successful Mareva injunction Supreme Court proceedings arising from major fraud and corruption by a CFO.

What are some of your key work health and safety matters you have been involved in?

Some interesting defence matters have included acting for a company in respect of a WorkCover investigation in respect of alleged workplace bullying and harassment and advising an organisation in respect of coronial and work health and safety issues and investigations arising from the fatal race accident during the 'Bathurst 1000' race.

I worked as a solicitor with the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Waterfall Rail Accident focusing on corporate governance and safety systems. This included working with Counsel Assisting on inquiry and investigation of a chief executive officer, directors and senior management in respect of governance and safety, and working in a multi-disciplinary team that provided advice in respect of safety systems, change management and governance restructuring.

I have also acted for a period as Solicitor Assisting the (Deputy State) Coroner in the Coronial Inquest into the death of a tunnel worker during the construction of the Cross City Tunnel.

Have you written any legal articles?

I have written and co-written a number of articles for trade and business magazines including in respect of safe work systems, redundancies and deeds of release.

I have also authored chapters 1-4 of 'Discrimination in Work' title of the Laws of Australia publication

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