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Paula Sutherland & Associates Lawyers

Hobart & Launceston

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Paula Sutherland & Associates is a specialist dispute resolution and litigation firm based in Hobart, also specialising in Estate Planning and Residential Conveyancing. Paula Sutherland regularly travels to Launceston and can meet clients in Launceston by prior arrangement.

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Life is unpredictable. So too is death. Nobody wants to think about their death, but ensuring that you have a valid will and have taken steps to control how your estate is dealt with and distributed after you pass away, eliminates the need for your loved ones to deal with your estate if you die intestate, that is, without a will. This can be a stressful process for them at a time when they are grieving, but it can be avoided.

At Paula Sutherland & Associates, we encourage everyone, no matter how big or small their estate, to have a will in place. There are many benefits in ensuring that you have a valid will, including:

allowing your family the opportunity to grieve after you pass away without having to worry about the absence of a will that details how you want your estate dealt with;
having control over where your assets are distributed after you pass away;
benefitting the people of your choice, who may not have otherwise benefitted under an intestacy; and
minimising the potential for disputes between family members regarding your assets and how they should be distributed.
It is equally important to regularly update your will. Circumstances change – children are born, beneficiaries predecease you, your asset pool changes by either the growth or disposal of assets, and so on. You should update your will when there is a significant event in your life, such as marriage or divorce, or otherwise at least every two to three years to ensure that your wishes remain current and valid.

At Paula Sutherland & Associates, our lawyers and solicitors offer comprehensive, accessible and affordable assistance to clients in relation to their estate planning needs. For an appointment or to discuss drafting or updating your will, contact us.


Just as important as making a last will and testament, your estate planning should include a power of attorney. Mental incapacity can also be an unpredictable eventuality resulting from injury or illness, but ensuring you have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place will protect your estate in circumstances where you are no longer in control. Alternatively, in other cases, you may simply benefit from a General Power of Attorney by having the ability to delegate to another person/s who can effect transactions on your behalf whilst you still retain the mental capacity yourself.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints a person (the attorney) to make decisions on your behalf about matters that relate to your financial and legal affairs, such as selling or purchasing property and accessing funds in your bank accounts. It does not permit a person to make decisions about your medical or personal affairs – this is achieved via the appointment of an enduring guardian.

To be valid, a Power of Attorney must be:

made by a person who has the necessary capacity to give instructions to appoint an attorney;
made by a person over the age of 18 years; and
registered under the Tasmanian Powers of Attorney Act 2000.
There are different types of Powers of Attorney, being:

A Particular Power of Attorney, which limits what your attorney can do with the particular powers vested in them. For example, you could give your attorney specific powers, such as signing leases and contracts and effecting land transfers, but no other access to your general financial affairs. This type of power of attorney can also be enduring, such that it continues after the loss of mental capacity on the same limited basis it operated before the loss of capacity.
A General Power of Attorney effectively permits your attorney to do anything that you can do concerning your financial affairs. A general power of attorney can be enduring, meaning it will not be revoked if you lose mental capacity.
An Enduring Power of Attorney, which allows the appointed attorney to act during the enduring phase, that is when you lose mental capacity and/or the ability to manage your own affairs. During this phase, you are unable to oversee the attorney’s use of power, which is why you must appoint a person or persons that you trust to take on this role.
If you do not have a Power of Attorney, you cannot appoint one after you lose capacity, nor can your family members legally act in the capacity of an attorney and do that which an attorney is legally empowered to do. Should the situation eventuate that you become incapacitated without an Enduring Power of Attorney, an application would need to be made through the Guardianship and Administration Board to appoint an Administrator, which may be granted to an individual, the Public Trustee or a private trustee company for example. In the meantime, your financial assets are not consistently protected as they could be under an Enduring Power of Attorney.

Again, it is critical to plan for these unknown contingencies and ensure that your estate is protected per your wishes should you lose mental capacity.

Buying and selling residential property, whether for personal or investment purposes, is a significant event and at Paula Sutherland & Associates we understand the importance of this and can assist you every step of the way. We provide an efficient and affordable conveyancing service to Tasmanian clients wishing to either buy or sell a residential property.

Our conveyancing lawyers offer a highly-organised, efficient and professional service, specialising in residential conveyancing. We aim to provide a premium service at minimal cost and inconvenience to you, offering fixed legal fees of $990 for Sales, and $1,100 for Purchases – not including disbursements.

We offer expert advice and assistance for buyers and sellers

Buying a Home? We Will:

Review a contract, to ensure it properly protects your interests and achieves the intended outcome
Draft a contract for you if you have not yet had one prepared, or otherwise amending it where required
Undertake the necessary searches concerning the property, including searches via the local council, land titles office and other organisations
Liaise with your financier where finance is required
Attend settlement on your behalf
Selling a Home? We Will:

Review the sale contract and providing comprehensive and tailored advice
Draft the contract for you, or amending it where necessary
Undertake the required searches concerning the property you are selling
Attend settlement of your sale transaction

We would urge both buyers and sellers to have a sale contract reviewed before execution. Hiring a solicitor avoids potentially costly and protracted disputes when people sign a contract without appreciating some of the contractual obligations it can impose.

As your transaction progresses, we keep you fully updated and provide legal advice regarding insurance, the outcomes of searches conducted and any requests from the other party such as for an extension of time.

Paula acts for both parties seeking payment of debts and those looking to defend a claim where it is alleged that they owe a debt to another party.

No matter what the economic climate, disputes regarding liability to pay debts, the quantum and various other factors will occur, and it is important to have a lawyer on your side with experience and expertise in dealing with your dispute.

Subject to the amount of the claim in question, claims will typically be dealt with in the Magistrates or the Supreme Court.

Paula is very experienced in dealing with debt disputes, with more than 15 years of acting for Plaintiffs and Defendants in such disputes. She is mindful of costs when dealing with disputes of this nature and the importance of counselling clients about legal costs vs the quantum of the debt in dispute, so that clients are not ultimately paying more in legal costs than the debt being disputed, coupled with the stress of the dispute itself; especially when it becomes litigious.

Paula can assist with pre and post litigation debt recovery matters, acting as counsel in court, and most importantly, ensuring client understanding as the matter progresses.

This is an area in which Paula has undertaken specialist study and has extensive experience acting for various insolvency practitioners.

Paula acts for trustees in bankruptcy for personal insolvency matters as well as liquidators, administrators and receivers in corporate insolvency matters. Her experience extends to appearing in the Federal Court in matters including and not limited to:

pursuing voidable transactions in bankruptcy and corporate liquidations;
securing and conducting contested hearings in relation to:
sequestration orders; and
orders to wind up companies;
obtaining freezing orders;
company reinstatement and subsequent winding up; and
applications to extend the statutory period for voluntary administrations.
Paula also deals with disputes in this field that have not become litigious; attempting to resolve disputes without the need for litigation to ensue.

Paula also accepts instructions for corporations and individuals facing potential insolvency, with a view to exploring all alternatives and otherwise assisting clients to understand the process and implications of insolvency.

Paula has also acted as an expert witness in insolvency matters.

Ideally it is always best to obtain legal advice before signing a contract, which obliges you as an individual, your company or your business to comply with its terms. Paula can review and provide advice in relation to contracts prior to execution.

Inevitably, even with advice, disputes will arise in relation to contractual obligations, whether relating to performance, payment or otherwise. Paula has acted for corporate clients and individuals in relation to disputes about contractual interpretation and enforcement and understandings/misunderstandings about the operation and application of contracts across a myriad of areas.

This can be a complex area of law and some parties will ultimately seek a decision from a court to determine contractual implications and obligations and make orders for performance.

It is critical to have an expert lawyer on your side; to consider the contract and matters outside of the contract which are relevant, including pre-contractual discussions and agreements, the actions of parties to a contract, variations to contracts and precisely what was agreed. This can be especially difficult where the contract is oral, or partly oral.

Paula can assist with these matters, whether they are, or become, litigious and will provide thorough, effective and sensible advice and guidance.

Paula has many years of experience acting for financial institutions in enforcing mortgages and securities in residential and commercial properties. She has acted for many lenders nationwide regarding:

issuing default notices;
liaising with borrowers;
commencing proceedings to secure possession of secured properties/securities;
enforcing court orders; and
issuing notices relevant to abandoned goods.
Paula has often acted as agent for mainland firms and has developed a reputation for providing cost-effective and prompt service for her clients.

Paula also accepts instructions from parties against who such actions have been brought and can assist clients in understanding the process and how to potentially avoid an enforcement order. She has successfully negotiated with security holders for extensions of time to pay and payment plans. It is critical to seek advice as early as possible in the process and Paula encourages parties to contact her as soon as possible to enhance the prospects of avoiding the cost and distress associated with court proceedings and the enforcement of orders.

Paula Sutherland & Associates has acted for trustee companies and individuals (i.e. executors, beneficiaries and interested parties) in relation to disputes including:

testators family maintenance claims – where one or more parties claim that they have been left without adequate provision from an estate;
interpretation of Wills;
capacity of the testator/testatrix to have made a Will;
applications for statutory wills;
parentage in the context of a Testator’s Family Maintenance claim;
formal validity of Wills; and
applications to rectify a Will.
This can be a very complex area of law, often fraught with emotion and it is important to be guided and advised by a lawyer that you can trust to provide advice and an understanding of the nature of the dispute, likely outcomes and the court process should the matter become litigious.

Paula has prosecuted and defended various claims and acted as counsel. She will negotiate, subject to assessment on an individual basis, an acceptance of payment for legal fees in relation to testator’s family maintenance claims upon resolution of the claim; whether in court or pursuant to a negotiated outcome.

The law relating to partnerships is governed in part by legislation and in part by any written agreement between partners.

Paula Sutherland & Associates is experienced in providing clients with advice in relation to the application of legislation and written agreements, how these apply and how disputes can be resolved; with or without litigation.

Paula has acted in disputes between partners in various professions and business enterprises, some complicated by the existence of multiple business operations existing in different corporate structures, involving both individuals and corporations.

It is crucial that people know and understand their rights and entitlements in the event of the breakdown of a partnership, the options available to them to enforce or defend claims, and possible outcomes.

Paula has acted as counsel in court disputes involving partnerships and can assist clients to understand their rights, obligations entitlements.

Paula Sutherland & Associates has extensive experience with building and construction disputes, in both a residential and commercial context.

These disputes are often time consuming and can involve a number of parties, including experts who (if the matter becomes litigious) may have to give evidence in support of any expert opinion they have provided. Experts may include engineers, architects, quantity assessors and building practitioners among others. It is essential that these parties become involved at an appropriate time and that any evidence they will give is converted into a form in which it can be relied upon in court.

Paula acts for builders and property owners and is eager to assist clients navigate the process through a court or tribunal and ensure that disputes are resolved in a timely fashion.

Paula also has experience in issuing or responding to security for payment claims, which are highly time-sensitive. It is critical that clients seek advice early and do not take any action or provide any response which could be taken, under the legislation, to constitute a response to a payment claim, thereby binding that party to that response with no further opportunity to respond.

Paula Sutherland & Associates has acted in various disputes relating to the purchase and sale of property.

She has acted for purchasers and vendors in relation to (but not limited to):

contractual interpretation and the consequential ability to compel or resist performance of a sale contract;
actions for specific performance;
claims relating to pre-contractual statements, such as the quality of the property or the existence of building or other approvals; and
negotiations to amend contracts where a dispute has arisen, such as an adjustment to the purchase price.
Paula has acted as counsel for clients when property disputes have escalated to the commencement of court proceedings. She understands the personal distress that is associated with disputes of this nature and provides a consultative service to clients, explaining available options and executing instructions expediently, whilst answering questions clients have as the matter progresses.

This is a very complex and not easily understood area of law. Acting as a trustee imposes legal duties upon the trustee, which are often not explained or commonly known.

A trust involves ownership of property designed to benefit others – the beneficiaries of the trust. A trust can come into existence without express agreement, such as via a constructive trust, thereby exposing parties to claims where they do not necessarily appreciate that they have adopted the role of trustee. Disputes are unfortunately not uncommon and specialist advice is highly recommended when a trust dispute arises.

Types of trust disputes may include, but are not limited to:

a claim that a trustee is not properly exercising their duties or acting outside the scope of their power;
the interpretation of a trust deed;
allegations that a trustee has acted negligently; and
disagreements as between trustees.

Equitable remedies are available to a party at the discretion of the court. There are various equitable remedies, but those commonly sought include:

Injunction: an injunction is a court order compelling or restraining a party from doing something. A party may seek injunctive relief to preserve the status quo pending the outcome of a substantive dispute. For example, A contracts to sell a house to B. A subsequently attempts to sell the property to C for a higher price. B wishes to seek a court order requiring A to complete the sale. In the meantime, B may seek an injunction to restrain A from selling to C (or any other party) until a court determines whether the property should be sold to B in accordance with the contract;
Specific performance: where a court issues an order requiring a party to perform a specific act. To use the example above, the court would order A to sell the subject property to B;
Account of profits: this is most often used where there has been an allegation of breach of fiduciary duty (someone who has a legal or ethical relationship of trust with another or others) to recover any profits taken as a result of the breach, thereby preventing an unjust enrichment;
Rescission: this equitable remedy allows an innocent party to effectively cancel the contract, thereby unwinding the transaction. It may be sought where there has been misrepresentation, mistake, duress or undue influence which (as an example) leads a party to enter into a contract that they would not have entered into except for the vitiating factor;
Rectification: this relates to the court ordering a change to a written document to ensure that it states what it should have stated in the first place;
Equitable estoppel: where a court may order a person be prevented or “estopped” from going back on their word or restraining a person from taking a particular position where it would be inequitable for them to do so. For instance, A tells B he will allow B to rent his property for a lower rent for a particular period of time if B undertakes certain improvements and then A subsequently attempts to increase the rent early.
Paula Sutherland has extensive experience dealing with claims involving equitable remedies; acting for both plaintiffs and defendants and appearing as counsel.

Paula has acted for various insurers in relation to motor vehicle and property damage and is very familiar with the applicable legislation.

Paula has extensive experience in this area and can assist insurers and property owners with claims for damage to property and consequential economic loss.

Paula can assist clients by:

advising on risk, quantum and strategy;
representing parties in the appropriate Court or Tribunal; and/or
recovering payments from third parties.

Professional negligence claims generally involves a claim made by a person who alleges that they have suffered loss as a result of the provision of services from a professional.

Claims of this nature generally require a party to demonstrate that:

the professional owed them a duty of care;
the service provided fell short of the acceptable standard, therefore the duty was breached; and
they suffered loss as a result.
Paula has acted for both insurers and parties alleging negligence in this area, appearing in the Supreme Court and briefing counsel.

The Australian Consumer Law, in conjunction with state-based legislation, establishes consumer rights which are referred to as consumer guarantees. These include:

a business must not make false, misleading or deceiving claims about a product it sells;
products must be safe, durable, free from defects, fit for purpose, acceptable in appearance and match any sample or demonstration model; and
contracts entered into should be clear and concise and not contain unfair terms.
There are various remedies available to consumers depending upon the nature and extent of the alleged defect or fault. Consumers transact every day to purchase goods or services and unfortunately sometimes the product or service provided does not meet the guarantees mandated by law. It is important in these situations to seek legal advice at an early juncture. This is a complex area of law and remedies may extend beyond the seller in certain circumstances and guidance from an experienced lawyer ensures clients are on track to achieve the desired result.

Paula is experienced in acting for parties making claims and also for parties who claims have been made against.

Commercial litigation covers a vast area of law. Other areas in which Paula Sutherland & Associates can diligently assist clients include:

Lease disputes, residential and commercial
Advice and representation in relation to matters before the Guardianship & Administration Board
Applications to the court to rectify documents where they contain an error with an unintended legal consequence, such that the document is rectified to reflect what it should have said in the first place
Corporate disputes including, for example:
breaches of director’s duties;
oppression applications; and
applications to wind up a company on just and equitable grounds.
Disputes between principal and agents
Disputes between neighbours, such as boundary fence disputes
Claims in relation to the payment of superannuation, including in the context of deceased estates
Business sale disputes
Franchise disputes
Disputes involving caveats

Paula Sutherland & Associates has experience acting for clients who have suffered personal injury as a result of the negligence, or sometimes deliberate acts of another. She adopts an empathetic, practical and results-driven approach to assisting clients with such claims.

She has appeared in court in relation to claims for damages for personal injury and compensation.

Through this process the injured party may be seeking:

compensation for the injury that they have suffered by way of payment of monetary damages;
payment for medical expenses, such as consultations and treatment with doctors and other health care professionals; and/or
payment for pharmaceutical expenses.
Parties who have suffered injury should seek legal advice as soon as possible as there are time limits imposed by statute in relation to the timeframe to bring a claim against a wrongdoer.

Subject to assessment of the claim, Paula may be content to await payment of legal fees incurred until the conclusion of the matter.

Whether dismissing an employee or being dismissed yourself, the process attached to a termination can be stressful, uncertain and daunting for both parties involved. Paula Sutherland & Associates is here to assist both employers and employees not only understand their rights and responsibilities following a termination, lawful or not, but also provide advice in relation to the management of potential terminations before they are acted upon.

Our lawyers can provide assistance to:

Employees seeking advice in relation to warnings or actions taken by their employer alleging underperformance of the employee
Ex-employees seeking advice in relation to making an unfair dismissal claim where they have already been terminated
Employers seeking advice on how to undertake a fair process in disciplining or dismissing an employee
Employers seeking to defend an unfair dismissal claim against them

There are a number of ways to consider a fair and due process for an employee when considering disciplinary action or termination based on such things as underperformance, tardiness, inappropriate behaviour or misconduct.

Once a termination has taken place and an employee believes there have been unlawful grounds for doing so, many factors have to be taken into account and time limits apply to the application being made to the Fair Work, if in fact an employee even meets the requirements of such an application. Paula Sutherland & Associates’ lawyers and solicitors provide advice on a number of issues including, but not limited to:

Applicable legislation and case law
Application requirements and minimum employment periods
Application timeframe for lodgement
The Small Business Code
Advice in relation to general protections
Evidence of unsatisfactory performance, warnings, etc
The scope of what is harsh, unjust or unreasonable dismissal
Mediation, hearings and conferences
Remedies and compensation
Discrimination and/or Bullying, including Tribunal appearances
If you think you may have been unfairly dismissed; have a claim against you for unfair dismissal; or have any queries or concerns relating to the potential for a dismissal, please call Paula Sutherland & Associates to discuss.

As an owner or tenant, it is important to understand the various terms and conditions of a lease. As leases are generally prepared by a lawyer, they can be quite complex and difficult to comprehend the various meanings and statutory requirements that are incorporated into the lease.

Preparation, Review and Negotiation of Commercial and Retail Leases
Paula Sutherland & Associates have experience in the preparation, review and negotiation of Commercial and Retail Leases, ensuring clients receive the fundamental advice and guidance that assures they understand both their rights and responsibilities as either a tenant or landlord. Paula Sutherland & Associates can also specifically advise on how to navigate the current COVID-19 landscape for both landlords and tenants.

In essence, a commercial lease is one where commercial property is leased to a tenant who operates a business of some type from the property. A retail lease on the other hand, is one which is wholly or predominantly used to conduct a retail business and may therefore be subject to the Fair Trading (Code of Practice for Retail Tenancies) Regulations 1998.

A commercial or retail lease also differs significantly from a residential tenancy lease. It is very important to ensure that you have received proper advice and guidance to ensure your rights are protected and your needs properly catered for; whether you are a landlord or a tenant.

A poorly drafted lease, or deficient advice when entering into a lease, can become a costly venture. Should a dispute arise, whether requiring court proceedings or not, Paula Sutherland & Associates specialise in dispute resolution and are able to act for parties in all aspects of commercial and retail tenancy matters. Call us today.

Paula Sutherland & Associates offer expert estate administration advice to executors and trustees, ensuring they comply with the duties imposed upon them by law.

The estate administration process occurs after you pass away and involves the management and distribution of your estate’s assets and liabilities following the terms of your will. If you do not have a will, then this will occur in accordance with the applicable intestacy legislation.

If you have a valid will, then the executor or executors of your will be responsible for the management and distribution of your estate. The process of managing and collecting assets and liabilities and collateral administrative requirements (such as the closure of bank accounts and disconnection of utilities) can take time, sometimes as long as twelve months for a simple estate. This does not include ongoing responsibilities associated with the administration of any trusts, explained in further detail below.

The duties of the executors can be complex and confusing. This is compounded where the executors are close family members or friends, who are likely to be emotional following your death, or may even be caught up in potential family disputes or disharmony.

Executors must seek legal advice if they are unsure of their legal responsibilities. Paula Sutherland & Associates offers expert and professional assistance to executors, ensuring that they comply with the duties imposed upon them by law. We can also seek professional assistance where required from appropriate experts, such as taxation, financial planning and real estate specialists.

Where your will creates a trust in favour of persons or institutions, a trustee or trustees appointed by your will (typically the executors) will administer the trust per your wishes. The tasks of a trustee may include administering a trust on behalf of:

minor children (for their maintenance or education for example) until they reach a nominated age
A charity to receive the income for charitable purposes
a family member to benefit from a life tenancy where the beneficiary for life can receive income, and sometimes capital, of a share in the estate for their life.
We can assist trustees with this process by ensuring that they are properly advised of their obligations and how they should administer the trust to conform with the trust objectives and relevant legislation.

Paula Sutherland & Associates’ lawyers and solicitors offer comprehensive, understandable and transparent estate administration advice. An incredibly important part of estate administration is to keep all parties updated with developments during the administration process and ensure they understand both their obligations and rights.