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.