Beyond COVID-19: Where to next for tribunals?

The coronavirus pandemic has required all organisations to reassess how they operate. Tribunals are no exception, introducing a range of procedural and other changes in a short space of time to continue to deliver services. This session offers an opportunity to look beyond the immediate effects of the pandemic. Three tribunal leaders – Judge Gerard Phillips, Deputy President Malcolm Schyvens and Registrar Sian Leathem – will discuss what COVID-19 may mean for tribunals in the longer term.

Presenter biographies:

Judge Gerard Phillips

Judge Gerard Phillips was appointed President of the Workers Compensation Commission of NSW and a judge of the NSW District Court in January 2019. On 26 August 2020, he was appointed as inaugural President of the Personal Injury Commission of NSW which will be established on 1 March 2021. Prior to these appointments, Judge Phillips enjoyed over 30 years’ of legal experience as a solicitor. He was a partner at the global private law firm K&L Gates and was a board member between 2011 and 2017. He practiced extensively in every state in Australia and the United Kingdom across a range of criminal, civil, personal injury, industrial relations and employment matters. Judge Phillips is Vice Convenor of the NSW Chapter of the Council of Australasian Tribunals.

Malcolm Schyvens

Malcolm Schyvens was appointed a Deputy President of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Division Head for the Guardianship Division on 1 January 2014. He was appointed Deputy President of the NSW Guardianship Tribunal in October 2008 and was subsequently appointed President of that Tribunal in September 2011. Malcolm is a past president of the Law Society of Tasmania, having been in private practice in Hobart for 11 years. He was also a part-time member of the Tasmanian Guardianship and Administration Board and the Forensic Tribunal. Malcolm holds degrees in law and commerce. He is currently the Chair of the Australian Guardianship and Administration Council and National Secretary of the Council of Australasian Tribunals.

Sian Leathem

Sian Leathem was appointed Registrar and Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal in April 2015. She has over 15 years’ experience in tribunal management. She led the project team responsible for merging 22 tribunals into the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and performed the role of Principal Registrar of that amalgamated tribunal. Prior to that, Sian was the Registrar of the Workers Compensation Commission of NSW for 5 years. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Master of Arts (Merit) and an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the Australian and New Zealand School of Government.

Privileges: When they arise and how to handle them

From legal professional privilege to public interest immunity and the privilege against self-incrimination, privilege issues arise from time to time in tribunal proceedings. This session will provide a refresher on the key common law and statutory privileges tribunal members, registrars and practitioners need to be aware of. It will also offer practical tips on how to handle them – whether raised by counsel, a self-represented party or by the tribunal itself – using examples from practice.

Presenter biography:

Joanna Davidson was admitted to practice in 2004 and called to the Bar in 2012. From 2012 to 2014 she served as Counsel Assisting the NSW Solicitor General and Crown Advocate. She has advised and appeared in a range of public and commercial law matters in the High Court, Federal Court and NSW superior courts as well as tribunals and inquiries. Joanna previously worked in the Administrative Law Group at the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office and spent several years in commercial litigation practice. She has taught Administrative Law part time at the University of NSW law school since 2009. She is a Centre Fellow of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law. Joanna has a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School.

Reality testing: Helping people move forward

Reality testing is a core technique used in ADR processes that is equally applicable in many hearings. This fast-moving and interactive session will look at how people make decisions, what influences decision making and why reality sometimes means different things to different people. Dispute resolution specialist Nina Harding will provide thoughts and tools on helping people to narrow issues in dispute, see a different perspective, make a decision or accept an outcome and move forward.

Presenter biography:

Nina Harding has over 25 years’ experience in resolving business and public interest disputes. A law graduate with a Master of Laws, she is a nationally accredited mediator. She is a member of numerous mediation panels, including with the Workers Compensation Commission of NSW, and is the Australian Film Code Conciliator. Nina is a recognised expert in the area of dispute resolution and has taught thousands of people how to negotiate more effectively and resolve conflict. She has lectured at universities in Australia and overseas. She is currently a Visiting Senior Lecturer at The University of Hong Kong.

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