CircleBridge Publications

Recognition as leaders of the future in Western Sydney

This year, Circle Bridge Legal has received a unique recognition for the work our firm continues to do with our clients.

We’re delighted to share that our Principal Solicitor, Firas Hammoudi, has been featured in the Daily Telegraph’s recent list of Western Sydney’s young gamechangers.

This recognition is as much about our firm’s work as it is about the high standing in which Firas is held by his clients and networks. It speaks to the quality and diligence with which our team approaches all that we do. 

At a fairly early stage in his career, Firas knew he wanted to make a difference through his legal skills by creating both economic and social value for the community. This belief manifested in the foundation of Circle Bridge Legal.

Our multi-practice firm is at the heart of Australia’s next growth engine, Western Sydney. We believe in the potential of this region and see it in our practice every single day.

As such, we are honoured that Firas has been featured in this list, which acknowledges the hard work and success of a team of fantastic professionals from this important part of Australia’s future. 

We have included the full extract (relating to Firas) of the feature below. The full piece can be found here.

Firas Hammoudi

Liverpool mover-and-shaker Firas Hammoudi is all about keeping things fresh and contemporary at his chic legal practice. 

Having started as a paralegal 11 years ago, the 29-year-old has come far in a relatively short amount of time having worked as a solicitor at law firms in Circular Quay and Martin Place before opening up his own practice.

“In late 2017, I took the leap of faith and Circle Bridge Legal was born. It was my passion for western Sydney that led to my realisation that Liverpool was an obvious location for our headquarters,” Mr Hammoudi said.

Fighting through the Covid outbreak, Mr Hammoudi is proud to say his business survived all the lockdowns and he’s since returned to a revamped office space and was the recipient of an award.

“In late 2021, Circle Bridge Legal completed a modern, artistic and unique fit-out in the heart of western Sydney. This new office speaks to our aspirations for the future,” he said.

“I was delighted to have been recognised as a finalist for the 2021 Peacemakers Awards in the Commercial Law and Family Law category.” 

The Lebanese legal young gun said the west had a considerable influence on his development.

“Western Sydney is an inclusive society and this has naturally taught me how to engage positively with people from differing cultures and traditions,” Mr Hammoudi said.

Going forward, Mr Hammoudi sees a bright future for his firm in the epicentre of the west.

“I continue to lead Circle Bridge Legal to new horizons into the future,” he said 

“Our vision is to be a household name and through the law, help people living in western Sydney realise their potential.” 

Mr Hammoudi encouraged young westies to reach for the stars. 

“Western Sydney presents endless opportunities for those that look for them,” he said. 

“Our youth need to defy the unicorn expectations that are often cast upon people living in Western Sydney and to embrace their background and culture in gaining success. Western Sydney is not different, but unique.”

CircleBridge Publications

Circle Bridge in the Supreme Court: Awarding of gross sum costs

In the case of Hoho Property Pty Ltd v Bass Finance No 37 Pty Ltd [2022], Circle Bridge Legal successfully had our client awarded “gross sum” costs.

A gross sum costs order is when the Court approximates costs against a party in litigation. It avoids a cost assessment, which is often lengthy and costly. In this instance, the judgment was made in our favour, a significant outcome in favour of our client.


We brought forth an application for an amendment to our client’s pleadings, which led to the vacation of the trial.

Here, our client borrowed $2.35 million from the first defendant, secured over a development site in Liverpool and the clients’ family home in Cabramatta. The second defendant was our client’s finance broker.

Our advocacy

The proceedings initially included a regime which prevented the financier from enforcing its rights under the finance documents. 

We sought declarations that the finance documents were void or, alternatively, orders setting aside the finance documents on the grounds of duress or unconscionable conduct.

We also sought relief that the broker was not entitled to its fee of $200,000 and we proposed amendments to the Summons and Commercial List Statement.

Further, we filed a motion seeking leave to amend their claim against the finance broker to seek damages if the finance documents were found to be enforceable.

Suggestions were made by the defendants regarding the amount of costs thrown away by reason of the amendment and the vacation of the hearing. 

We submitted that there was no evidence before the Court to support the defendants’ figures.

Our success

The Judge made orders granting our clients leave to amend. Further, an order was made that the first defendant was entitled to a specified gross sum in the amount of $35,000 (exclusive of GST) in respect of the costs order made.

The same order was also given to the second defendant.

The amounts in the two orders were ordered to be paid within 28 days, failing which the defendants were given the right to apply on two days’ notice to seek a stay of the proceedings.

Our pursuit of our clients’ intended outcomes in a challenging context was noteworthy for its tenacity and robustness. A gross sum costs order can be challenging to obtain, but we were able to do so in this particular instance. 

If you need legal assistance regarding your commercial matter, get in touch with us to see how we can assist you.

CircleBridge Publications

Simple and Complex Wills: Which one works for you?

It is absolutely essential to take care of estate planning in a timely and efficient manner. We all should have our will prepared at some point in our lives and there are two main types of Wills that can be prepared – Simple and Complex Wills. There are several differences between the two and one may be more suitable to you than the other. Let’s explore the two.

Simple Wills

To put it blatantly, Simple Wills are written simply. They are shorter than Complex Wills and often leave the remainder of a person’s estate to only one or a few people.

It includes the bare minimum needed to set up and split the estate. Some information that could be on a Simple Will includes:

  • The name of the executor;
  • Who you want to leave the estate to, and how much you want to leave to each establishment;
  • Who gets the estate if these beneficiaries can not accept;
  • Charitable donations/gifts from your estate;
  • Who will be the guardian of your minor children if the other parent has also passed; and
  • Who will look after your pet(s) when you pass

Although Simple Wills are not as common as Complex Wills, it might be the one for you if you have a small family and a few assets.

Those that use Simple Wills are often in their first marriage with children, and have a happy marriage. In these situations, the testator normally wants to give their estate exclusively to their spouse and kids. Simple Wills allow testators to do this without much confusion.

Although for those that have a lot of assets and people to award their estate to, a Simple Will will not be sufficient and a Complex Will would be more appropriate in this case.

Complex Wills

As the name suggests, Complex Wills are far more complex than Simple Wills. They provide the testator with greater depth into the ways to distribute their estate.
Complex Wills allow you to set up certain conditions by which the estate is split. You have much more freedom to spread out your estate in certain ways. You can give what you like to whoever you like and do not just need to award lump sums to your family.

These Wills also require more added information and directions, compared to Simple Wills. They have all the information Simple Wills have, but are more detailed.

Some questions you need to ask yourself when preparing a Complex Will, include:

  • Any gifts you may want to award from your estate?
  • How would the Will be split between children from all marriages?
  • Who gets the stocks?
  • How will children with disabilities be cared for?
  • Who gets control of any businesses or corporations?

For individuals with large estates to give away and several people to award the estate to, Complex Wills are the most appropriate form of Wills.

If you’ve had several marriages with multiple kids, or you have a great extended family, you would benefit from a Complex Will. You might also benefit from a Complex Will if you run a large company.

There are three types of Complex Wills:

Testamentary Trust Will

If you don’t want to award your estate to a beneficiary/beneficiaries in a lump sum, you may want to make a Testamentary Will.

This type of Will lets you leave your estate in a Trust which is then given to an appointed beneficiary. The beneficiary will have complete control over it and can use the Trust in any way they want. However, there are often some instructions regarding how it needs to be split.

Disability Trust Will

If the estate, or part of the estate, is going to a disabled person – a disability trust is used. It could contain directions and conditions, just as Testamentary Trust Wills do. This allows the disabled person with a Trust to tap into whenever they need assistance or medical costs.

Mutual Will

Mutual Will is one entered into with your spouse. They are made in case one spouse dies earlier than the other. It ensures that the preferred beneficiaries are awarded the estate of each partner on their passing.

Get the best Estate Planning Services today

Understanding the difference between Simple and Complex Wills is just the beginning. Now that this first step is out of the way, it’s time to get on with estate planning.

If you need a trustworthy estate lawyer, contact Circle Bridge Legal today.

CircleBridge Publications

Advocating for Equal Access to Justice

Fair access to justice via the legal system is an issue our entire team at Circle Bridge Legal are passionate about.

Beyond the politically correct platitudes that often flow in this space, we’re confident that in our case it is as much informed by our personal experience as it is because it “sounds” right in an era that rightly prioritises corporate social responsibility.

Empowering the powerless is something I am deeply invested in because of what I’ve seen it enable others to achieve. To be able to give vulnerable people a voice and new opportunities is one of the greatest honours for those of us working in the legal sector. 

We like to believe that in a country like ours, everyone is equal before the law and that the law has the ability to bring everyone to account regardless of their status.

But the truth is that — even putting politics and matters such as race aside — sometimes the sheer financial burdens the sector places on people means they literally cannot access legal services.

This means that some people in the community are far more vulnerable than most. 

One example that I’ve come across in our work is the case of a mother who’s just escaped a family violence situation.

Provided she has the financial or mental resources (which most people escaping this type of situation often don’t) to find a helpline or legal service, the advice she would receive to help herself wouldn’t be enough to give her the best solutions to her legal problems. 

In turn, this woman — still traumatised by family violence — would then have to navigate through multiple courts systems just to manage the situation of not only herself, but also her other affected family members (possibly including children).

This includes the Family Court to make arrangements for children, the Local Court to seek an Apprehended Personal Violence Order, and perhaps the Children’s Court to sort out Care and Protection matters for her children, who, like her, have also been removed from the risk of the same family violence.

Even if the mother is able to find an advocate to share her burden and help her walk through all these systems and jurisdictions, not many advocates have the comprehensive legal understanding, background or skill lawyers have to help the mother find justice holistically.

Fundamentally, the legal system is complex, compartmentalised and the law can be very technical.

With all that’s at stake financially and personally, many individuals often do not have the personal resources to navigate the ins and outs of the legal system and to make sure they don’t end up on the losing end of a case.

Yet, all too often, it’s often individuals and families in the most traumatic and stressful situations who have the toughest journey in getting the legal aid they need most.

People with even higher stakes and risks are expected to navigate the legal system alone, all while they’re highly traumatised, likely in fear for their life, without any resources or financial help. 

Vulnerable people deserve more than just a voice, some quick legal advice and referrals to help them through their legal cases. From a social justice perspective, it is imperative that all individuals should have access to quality legal services, regardless of socio-economic circumstance. 

While it may never be equal to the legal services powerful corporations or wealthy individuals are able to access, it should at least be fair for everyone.

Which is why many in our team volunteer for our community, providing legal advice to disadvantaged individuals who do not have access to adequate legal services.

As former Law Council President Fiona McLeod SC previously noted, the pro bono work undertaken by lawyers is a unique aspect of our profession, and there is simply no other profession with such an established culture of helping those in need.

But the unmet need and funding shortfall to sustain this type of work is still enormous.

Law Access last year reported that “there is almost no funded legal assistance provided for representation with family law property settlements which has flow-on effects for housing security, employment and education. Nor is there legal assistance available for many applicants requiring legal advice and representation at judicial review of administrative decisions in the Federal Circuit Court.”

Community legal centres have also seen a continuing, large unmet need for legal services within seriously disadvantaged groups, even in centres which benefit from some funding. 

In the same way that you wouldn’t expect an allied health practitioner to take the place of a doctor in a hospital, we shouldn’t require and fund anything less than a qualified lawyer for vulnerable people in our courts and tribunals.

They deserve qualified, quality legal help from beginning to end, to appear for them in Court, to manage all the paperwork, to negotiate and advocate for them.

In the future, I hope we will one day be able to see a legal system which supports true advocacy for the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community.

Until that happens, myself and teams like ours will be doing what we can do to help make the law fairer and accessible for everyone, regardless of their situation.

CircleBridge Publications

Circle Bridge In the Supreme Court: A Property Case Study

Recently, Circle Bridge Legal successfully attained a stay of executing a writ for possession of land in a property matter. This case study looks at our work in this case and the comments of a Justice in the Supreme Court of NSW reflecting positively on our contribution.

Recently, in the case of Priority Lending Australia Pty Ltd v Martinsville Pty Ltd [2020] NSWSC 1889, Circle Bridge Legal successfully attained a stay of executing a writ. This writ was for possession of the land. A writ of possession is a legal document that seeks to transfer the possession of property held by one party to another party. A ‘stay’ could be thought of as a delay or an extension. By staying a writ, that transfer is delayed, allowing a party to retain possession of the property for an extended period.


Here, the defendants, represented by Circle Bridge Legal, sought to stay a writ of possession, which was due to take effect on 18 December 2020.

The case was heard before Hamill J (as Duty Judge) of the Supreme Court of NSW. Before that, on 8 December 2020, Wright J ordered to stay the execution of the writ until 18 December.

The initial writ was extended to allow our clients to refinance and avoid hardship that may face the various people living on our clients’ land.

The current case was heard on 18 December, highlighting the urgency of our client’s matter. Had it not been for Circle Bridge Legal, the writ of possession would have been actioned, and our clients would have lost possession on the day of judgment.

Our Advocacy:

We argued that the debt of approximately $2 million was significantly higher than a contract of sale for the land at $1.2 million. Selling the land would have represented a massive shortfall to meet the debtor obligations. The court acknowledged that this argument swayed in favour of an extension.

Moreover, we successfully demonstrated that our clients were using other parcels of land as security for refinancing. Given one of the bases for the previous staying of the writ was our client’s commitment to refinancing, we successfully argued an extension on that basis.

Furthermore, alongside our client’s willingness to refinance, Circle Bridge Legal successfully raised that families living on the clients’ property would face severe health risks and hardships if the writ was executed.

Our Success:

As the result of our arguments, we successfully argued for a stay of the writ, or in other words, postponed the execution of the transfer of possession.

An impeccable reputation:

For the same matter, we also acted in a second case to set aside a default judgment of over $1 million. This matter was heard by Adamson J of the Supreme Court of New South on 14 July 2021. The judge highlighted and acknowledged Circle Bridge Legal’s reputation and impeccable client service. In paragraph [38], her Honour noted, “Circle Bridge acted quickly to bring on the application for a stay and to file a notice of motion to set aside the default judgment.”

Furthermore, in paragraph [39], the court acknowledged that had Circle Bridge Legal been instructed instead of our clients’ previous solicitor, we would have successfully raised a defence on time that would have avoided the need to set aside a default judgment.

From assisting our clients in need of support to being recognised for our exceptional legal advocacy in the Supreme Court, Circle Bridge Legal has continued to reach new heights. Our success, in this case, is one of many victories, and Circle Bridge Legal prides itself on delivering legal solutions. If you require legal assistance, get in touch with us, and we will endeavour to support you.

If you need legal assistance regarding your property matter, get in touch with us to see how we can assist you. 

CircleBridge Publications

Contractual Disputes: Our Top 5 Tips on Avoiding the Avoidable

Many contractual disputes happen because of poorly worded contracts of the entire absence of one. Our Principal Solicitor, Firas Hammoudi, shares our top 5 tips for avoiding contractual disputes.

For a construct that we may describe without exaggeration as one of the cornerstones of modern society, the contract sure isn’t done justice.

It is incredible just how much we contract on a daily basis in every facet of our lives. From boarding public transport to using our phones, buying our houses, using every conceivable app for every conceivable purpose, the modern contract comes in a variety of complexities. From Terms and Conditions we agree to all the way to formal, 50-pagers we sign for a myriad of activities.

Yet in my practice every single day, it astounds me how often our firm is involved in untangling disastrous contractual conflicts, many of which are entirely avoidable.  

Most of these troubles result from both individuals and organisations entering poorly drafted contracts that lead to an ensuing mess.

Too often, clients come to us after seemingly promising arrangements go pear-shaped, relationships become soured, and where there seems to be no evident solution.

The aftermath can be quite costly. At any particular time, our firm is in the midst of a substantial number of our clients going through the courts that centre on the construction of regrettable and painstakingly avoidable contractual issues.

Reflecting on this, below are our top 5 tips to avoid the avoidable contractual disputes in your everyday dealings.

1 – Document, Document, Document!

Many casual business relationships often see our clients entering into agreements based on a ‘handshake’ agreement.

Often, these ‘handshake’ agreements or ‘gentlemen’s arrangements’ are later amended into poorly written contracts (if at all) – often times functioning more as a supplement to the oral agreement between parties. Other times, the contract is based entirely on this handshake.

Nothing is as disheartening as being told this, especially by clients that are otherwise involved in sophisticated, high-value business deals in other contexts.

What these oral contracts almost certainly lead to is very different, subjective understandings of the various terms of the arrangement.

These often mean the different parties hold certain expectations of each other, many of which will not be met.

This is solved by doing what is at the core of the modern contract: drafting it in detailed, well-written terms.

Write all expectations, all deliverables you require, and how and when these will be achieved. And do the same for your counterparty: make sure your counterparty also knows exactly what they’re getting into.

Without exaggeration, a well-written, thorough contract is the only solution to avoiding most avoidable commercial disasters.

2 – Guaranteeing your contract is correctly drafted

Knowing the importance of having a well-written contract is one thing. Actually putting one together is another.

It is easy to get into the pitfall of believing what you are trying to achieve in a commercial or individual context is straightforward and doesn’t need expert drafting or experience.

But any seasoned lawyer can tell you, this is not the case. Not only can the professionals give you the peace of mind of having a comprehensively written contract, they can also leverage their expertise to secure terms more favourable for you. There is an entire industry (the legal profession) that revolves around contracts for a reason. They are not easy to draft and every word can and does mean something: meanings that have been shaped and fashioned over centuries of legal development. 

The professional input is not only vital to putting the wording of your contract through the stress test of ambiguity, but also extracting optimised value from your intended arrangement; both of these are ingredients for a successful venture or relationship.

3 – Being conscious of your counterparty’s needs

While one aspect of writing a contract is ensuring you get the most out of your deal, considering what is expected of you is just as vital.

The other party to the contract will have specific needs and requirements in mind when entering into a contract with you.

Knowing the ins and outs of the terms outlining these expectations, as well as disciplining yourself to give due consideration to these terms, will result in a satisfactory partnership – something that can also mean favourable conditions in future transactions within this relationship.

4 – Knowing the stakes

In figuring out how closely to analyse a contract, the simple starting point we advise all clients on is to reflect and appreciate in detail the potential consequences of something in the contract not being adhered to, or left ambiguous at their expense.

Know what is at stake and allow the potential costs to you be a motivating force in driving you to be thorough in the often-tedious task of becoming familiar with what your counterparty in this contract expects of you.

5 – Include clear mechanisms to resolving disagreements

Disagreements happen. They are a part of life.

Outlining how to resolve these conflicts is a necessary part of a contract that highlights the difference made by having a professional involved.

Including dispute resolution, governing law and jurisdiction provisions clarify to both parties how and where to look for resolutions when friction arises.

Contractual disputes can be avoided. But they are also a fact of life. If you’ve done all on your part and are confident of having done so, you can rest easy. And if and when something does still go wrong, you can likely be comfortable that the law will be on your side.

If you need legal assistance regarding the terms of a contract or need helping in drafting a holistic one, get in touch with us to see how we can assist you. 

CircleBridge Publications

Family law cases: 5 common mistakes that jeopardise people’s interests

Family law cases are contentious and often fraught with energy and emotion. But despite passions being high, there are some things NOT to do. We explore the top 5 things to avoid in family law disputes. 

Last week on our social media channels, I discussed why our firm does what it does from a family law perspective. The response privately was quite something: it hit a nerve with our clients and others, with a raft of inquiries about our work resulting from it.

As I mentioned then, Family Law is a labour of love for our firm. But while we love assisting people in this space and making a meaningful difference to people’s lives, there are things we come across every day which we wished people would keep in mind to make their own outcomes easier to achieve.

Here are the top 5 common mistakes people make when it comes to family conflicts, separation, divorce cases and related matters that seriously put their outcomes in jeopardy both legally as well as practically and emotionally. 

1. Being unflinching in an ANY position and not being pragmatic

There is a time to take a decisive stand, and a time to realise that the law gives regard to multiple people’s rights.

Often, people want to “stand firm” or “make them (the counterparty) accountable”.

Family law is the wrong place to look for vindication and to “fight it out”.

It is critical to approach the matter with an open mind, considering the commercial reality of your situation and looking to settle as early as possible for all involved, unless in extreme cases where one party has clearly done something wrong.

2. Not sharing the entire story with your lawyers

Lawyers can only prepare a client’s case so far as the instructions they are provided. Family law disputes are not the places to hide facts hoping they’ll go away.

Thus, openness from the get-go – especially with one’s lawyer – is paramount.

3. Throwing children into the mix

Involving children in separation disputes is a mistake and should be avoided at all costs.

Apart from the emotional toll on all involved, courts also don’t look favourably upon those who use children as bargaining chips or try to achieve outcomes that threaten the other party’s rights to access (again, unless in cases where there are clear wrongs or criminal activities).

4. Posting on social media

Simply put, posting about your family law matter on social media or the Internet can be an absolute strategic disaster.

There have been numerous cases in the Family Court where parties’ social media posts have been accessed and used against the poster in proceedings!

These activities often viewed negatively by the Family Court as being indicative of a total lack of insight into behaviour and can result in an unfavourable outcome. 

Keep emotions in check! 

5. Using laypeople and friends for legal advice

 “My friend got divorced and they got this so they told me I can get that too”. 

This conclusion is likely a big mistake, and it is likely you’ve misunderstood.

Every circumstance is different and has its own set of facts and circumstances.  Those facts and circumstances will have the biggest impact upon the outcome of a matter as will other variables such as how a matter is resolved.

Resist the temptation to compare and try to keep the uniqueness of your situation in mind.

This list is a short and deliberately punchy one, and one we’ll build upon in the time to come. I look forward to sharing some more insights and tips based on our experience, but for now, these are some things to avoid if you are going through a family law matter, even if your heart tells you otherwise.

CircleBridge Publications

Mental Health and Lawyers: We need to do better

It’s been a big week for mental health in the context of the legal profession.

Mental health is a topic I am hugely passionate about.

Ours is a profession where people work hard – sometimes too hard – and where pressure can be sky-high. I’ve seen firsthand the impact that mental illness has had on colleagues and while I’ve been blessed to have created my own limits and parameters early on, sometimes it’s not so easy and the impacts can be startling.

And these were highlighted very pertinently this week.

Prominent Herbert Smith Freehills partner and India Practice chair Chris Parsons opened up about the circumstances that led to his breakdown and battle with severe mental health issues. In a podcast this week, he shared why it was so important for him to be transparent with the outside world about his battle, and how his workplace responded to his needs.

He was able to conquer the worst and is now giving back in this space. But one of the comments in the comments section of the podcast caught my attention. A person said “My strong view is that stories like these are positively dangerous to the careers of (especially younger) practitioners. This gentleman has (and has had) a highly successful legal career. The reality is that, at this point, disclosing his mental problems won’t do him any career damage. This is simply not the position for younger or less successful practitioners”

Few things can highlight the challenge of mental health and the law than a striking perspective like this. The comment went on to say, “Every practising lawyer knows that, in reality, letting your employer know of your mental health issues is likely to bring your career to a standstill, or even end it completely”.

And then, as if to agree, new findings from the International Bar Association show that mental health issues disproportionately affect certain demographics within the legal profession and that a concerningly high number of such professionals fear speaking out.

Of nearly 3,500 surveyed legal professionals and more than 180 legal organisations, including bar associations, law societies, in-house legal departments and law firms, the report unveiled that distress, anxiety, depression, suicide ideation and related issues amongst legal professionals, more than two in five (41 per cent) of survey respondents said they would not discuss their health concerns with their employer out of fear for detrimental consequences to their careers.

These are striking, discomforting findings.

At a time when the rest of society is getting comfortable with the mental health conversation and even excelling at it, my feeling is that it is still taboo in our profession.

Articles, podcasts and reports like the above are likely to assist with this, as I hope do thoughts and reflections like mine (albeit I know they are a humble, small contribution).

But whatever the case and however challenging the journey, the legal profession needs to take the road to a much better way of approaching mental health and creating workspaces that view people as humans that have a multiplicity of needs and whose time doesn’t belong to the firm. It’s easier said than done, but at Circle Bridge Legal, we are trying to model a mental-health-aware workspace that is attuned to the needs of modern professionals but, more than that, to human beings.

I look forward to sharing more thoughts on this topic in the time to come and hope we can all elevate the conversation about mental health in the legal profession.