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Jacky Campbell, December 2015

Which country? New Zealand vs Australia—a special case

The “forum non conveniens” test does not apply when determining which forum should determine a family law dispute when the contest is between Australia and New Zealand. An example of the application of the test which applies to these forum disputes occurred in Nevill & Nevill.[1] In that case, the wife issued property proceedings in Australia. The husband issued property proceedings in New Zealand and sought a stay of the wife’s Australian proceedings.

The husband and wife were New Zealand citizens. They met in New Zealand and commenced cohabitation in New Zealand in 2003, later marrying. They had one child, who was born in New Zealand in 2006. They separated in June 2013 in Australia, about six months after they had relocated to Australia from New Zealand. There was a dispute as to whether or not the relocation was permanent.

The wife had a trust in New Zealand and it was not in dispute that the proper law of the trust was the law of New Zealand. One of the assets of the trust included the parties’ former matrimonial home with an estimated value of NZD $1,200,000. The husband also had a trust, which held most of his entitlement to shares in a business. The wife contended that the husband’s interest in the business was valued at over NZD $12 million. There was also no dispute that the proper law of the husband’s trust was the law of New Zealand.

Kent J drew the parties’ attention to the existence of the Trusts (Hague Convention) Act 1991 (Cth) and said that the parties stated positions appeared to be consistent with that statute.

The wife’s proceedings were under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). The husband’s proceedings were pursuant to the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (NZ) in the Family Court of New Zealand. He sought to have his proceedings transferred to the High Court in New Zealand, as he had initiated separate proceedings there with respect to his trust.

The parties made submissions to the Family Court of Australia on the basis that the applicable law was the “clearly inappropriate forum” test. However, Kent J noted that the forum issue was to be determined by reference to the question of whether the New Zealand Court “is the more appropriate court to determine those matters” within the meaning of s 19(2) of the Trans-Tasman Proceedings Act 2010 (Cth) (“the Trans-Tasman Act”).

The Trans-Tasman Act forum test

The test for an application to stay an Australian proceeding on forum grounds is set out in

s 17(1) of the Trans-Tasman Act which provides:

“A defendant in a civil proceeding in an Australian court may apply to the court for an order staying the proceeding on the grounds that a New Zealand court is the more appropriate court to determine the matters in issue”.

A stay of the Australian proceeding can be ordered by an Australian court on an application under s 17(1) if it is satisfied that a New Zealand court, in accordance with s 19(1):

“(a)    has jurisdiction to determine the matters in issue between the parties to the proceeding; and

(b)    is the more appropriate court to determine those matters”.

Both parties conceded the s 19(1)(a) issue.

The matters to be considered by the Australian court in determining whether a New Zealand court is the more appropriate court under s 19(1)(b) are listed in s 19(2):

“(a)    the places of residence of the parties or, if a party is not an individual, its principal place of business;

(b)    the places of residence of the witnesses likely to be called in the proceeding;

(c)    the place where the subject matter of the proceeding is situated;

(d)    any agreement between the parties about the court or place in which those matters should be determined or the proceeding should be commenced (other than an exclusive choice of court agreement to which s 20(1) applies);

(e)    the law that it would be most appropriate to apply in the proceeding;

(f)     whether a related or similar proceeding has been commenced against the defendant or another person in a court in New Zealand;

(g)    the financial circumstances of the parties, so far as the Australian court is aware of them;

(h)    any matter that is prescribed by the regulations;

(i)     any other matter that the Australian court considers relevant;

and must not take into account the fact that the proceeding was commenced in Australia”.

Kent J referred to the decision of Brereton J in Re Featherston Resources Limited, Tetley v Weston,[2] where he considered the relevant provisions of the Trans-Tasman Act in the context of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). Brereton J noted (at para 51) that, whilst the power conferred by s 17 is discretionary, “… it would be an exceptional case, if there is one at all, in which being satisfied that the New Zealand court had jurisdiction and was the more appropriate one, the Court would not stay the Australian proceedings”. Kent J agreed with this statement. Brereton J pointed out that the test directed attention to the more “appropriate”, not the more “convenient”, court. Whilst convenience was an important consideration, it was not determinative.

Consideration of the s 19(2) factors

Kent J considered the mandatory considerations in s 19(2) in the context of Brereton J’s observations.

In relation to s 19(2)(a) – the places of residence of the parties – Kent J observed that whilst both parties were resident in Australia, the possibility of joining, or the potential need to join, the New Zealand based trustees of the husband’s trust could not be excluded. Their joinder might be required to ensure effective interim or final relief or enforcement.

In relation to s 19(2)(b) – the places of residence of the witnesses likely to be called in the proceeding – both the husband and the wife, being the most obvious witnesses, were resident in Australia. New Zealand was where the other possibly relevant witnesses lived, so there was some prospect of necessary witnesses based in New Zealand being required,

In relation to s 19(2)(c) – the place where the subject matter of the proceeding was situated – the subject matter of the proceeding was situated essentially in New Zealand.

There was no suggestion of any agreement between the parties about the Court or place where proceedings consequent upon the breakdown of their marriage were to be determined in accordance with s 19(2)(d).

Regarding s 19(2)(e) – the law it was most appropriate to apply in the proceeding – Kent J considered that there were two possible interpretations of this provision. On a narrow view, all that was required was to compare the extent to which an Australian court, in the Australian proceeding, would consider it appropriate to apply Australian law or foreign law in the proceeding. Essentially this involved looking at the extent to which it might be appropriate to apply foreign law, rather than the law of the forum to the proceedings if they proceeded in the local forum. This narrow interpretation was inapplicable to this case, as a court exercising jurisdiction under the Family Law Act applied Australian law to the determination of the dispute and could adjust the property rights of the parties regardless of any rights acquired or vested in them under foreign law. See, for example, In the Marriage of Hannema,;[3] Cain & Cain,[4] and Gilmore & Gilmore.[5]

A wider interpretation of the provision focuses on the law that it would be most appropriate to apply to the particular dispute in issue, having regard to the circumstances in which that dispute arose. Kent J said:

“That is, having regard to connecting factors with each country, whether it would be more appropriate for the law of New Zealand than that of Australia to apply to determination of issues consequent upon the breakdown of the marriage”.[6]

Kent J considered that the wider interpretation commended itself, having regard to the express reference in s 17(1) of the Trans-Tasman Act to the more appropriate court to determine the matters in issue. His Honour considered all the connecting factors to New Zealand, as against the connecting factors with Australia.

The wife emphasised the juridical advantage to her of her property settlement claim being determined in Australia as distinct from a determination of the husband’s proceedings in New Zealand. There were two aspects to her argument. Both parties submitted that in New Zealand there would, or may be, issues as to the extent to which the husband’s trust formed part of the parties’ “relationship property”. That trust held the most valuable assets owned or controlled by either or both of the parties. If the trust was part of the “relationship property”, the trust would be subject to division on the basis that each party had prima facie an equal entitlement. The second aspect of her argument was that New Zealand’s family law was currently “in disarray” in terms of conflicting approaches as to how discretionary trusts and the interests in discretionary trusts were to be considered. She compared this to what was submitted to be the now clear and established approach under Australian family law, following in particular, cases such as the High Court’s determination in Kennon v Spry.[7]

Kent J was not satisfied that New Zealand’s law was unclear, much less that it met the description of being “in disarray”, as contended by the wife’s counsel. He was also not persuaded that any perceived juridical advantage to any party in one forum, even if one existed, rendered the law of that forum “most appropriate to apply in the proceeding” within the meaning of s 19(2)(e), or was even relevant to that consideration. Kent J saw no merit

“… in the contention that an Australian court is more appropriate than a New Zealand court because the party invoking the jurisdiction of the Australian court has some juridical advantage, procedural or substantive, by so doing. That necessarily means disadvantage to the other party”.[8]

Kent J observed “… the need to treat issues between husband and wife arising out of the matrimonial relationship and its breakdown as a single controversy, is a principle of central importance”.[9]

Any parenting, child support or spousal maintenance issues would have been part of the same single controversy as the property settlement proceedings. The principle to treat the matters as a single controversy might lead to a conclusion that, irrespective of where the parties had lived for the greater part of their married lives and the location of their assets, the proper law to apply was Australian law. However, in Nevill, no issues were raised other than the property settlement proceedings. The parties had apparently resolved their other issues in the three year period between final separation and the institution of the Family Law Act proceedings.

The facts which Kent J said “loomed large” in his judgment were:

 “(i)     The parties are both New Zealand nationals and they lived for the greater part of their married life in New Zealand, having commenced cohabitation there in January 2003 and marrying there in January 2005. Conversely, the marriage relationship (prior to final separation) only subsisted for some six months after the parties came to Australia in January 2013;

(ii)     The parties accumulated their existing property or the property interests of either of them predominately [sic] whilst they pursued their married life together in New Zealand;

(iii)    The property of the parties or either of them is substantially situated in New Zealand. There are obviously substantial property interests involved;

(iv)    The wife’s trust, which predominately [sic][ owns or controls the vast majority of what may be conveniently described as the wife’s assets (including the real property that was the parties’ former matrimonial home in City F) is a New Zealand trust with a corporate trustee which is New Zealand based;

(v)    The husband’s trust, which overwhelmingly in terms of value owns or controls the vast majority of property interests which are the focus of these proceedings, is a New Zealand trust with New Zealand trustees including both an individual resident in New Zealand and a corporate trustee;

(vi)    Neither party has acquired any asset of any significance in Australia beyond personal items;

(vii)   All, or predominately [sic] all, events referred to by either party in their respective evidence to date (accepting that to be preliminary) as to the acquisition or improvement of property or property interests (and historical real property transactions during the course of the marriage) occurred in New Zealand, and some of these are seemingly in dispute”.[10]

Overwhelmingly, Kent J found that the connecting factors to be considered under s 19(2)(e) tended to favour the conclusion that the law of New Zealand was the most appropriate law to apply to the determination of property issues consequent upon the breakdown of the parties’ marriage.

In relation to s 19(2)(f), a related or similar proceeding had been commenced against the defendant or another person in a court in New Zealand. Kent J noted that the wife had acceded to the jurisdiction in New Zealand by filing an unconditional defence in the proceedings the husband instituted pursuant to the Property Relationships Act 1976 (NZ).

The financial circumstances of the parties so far as the Australian court was aware of them, were relevant by virtue of s 19(2)(g). Each party had filed a financial statement and affidavit setting out the substantial property interests they each held. In summary, Kent J found that both parties appeared to have substantial financial means available to them to pursue proceedings in either jurisdiction.

There did not appear to have been any matters prescribed by regulations pursuant to s 19(2)(h).

In relation to “any other matter” that the Australian court considered relevant under s 19(2)(i), there was no evidence that matters of convenience, delay or expense had any role in considering the outcome of the application, beyond those to which reference had already been made.

His Honour concluded:

“The subject matter of these proceedings is property overwhelmingly situated in New Zealand. There are potential aspects relating to the trust law of New Zealand, in particular as regards the husband’s trust and his pursuit of proceedings for the declaratory relief in relation to the husband’s trust that potentially have a connection with property settlement proceedings. The parties’ marriage subsisted for most of its duration in New Zealand and overwhelmingly in New Zealand as compared with Australia. In my judgment the nature and subject matter of the issues in dispute between the parties and the inter-relationship between those issues and New Zealand, render the Family Court in New Zealand (or the High Court if the proceedings are transferred there) the more appropriate court within the meaning of the Act. The discretion under s 17(1) of the Act thus enlivened, there is no reason not to conclude, in circumstances where a New Zealand court has jurisdiction and appears to be the more appropriate court to determine the matters in issue between the parties, that these proceedings ought be stayed”.[11]

His Honour made an order permanently staying the Australian proceedings.

Conclusion

Lawyers need to be aware that the usual “forum non conveniens” test does not apply in forum disputes between Australia and New Zealand.

Nevill is a good illustration of the application of the relevant legislation including how the factors to be considered under that legislation are applied.

[1]    [2015] FamCA 876

[2]    [2014] NSWSC 1139

[3]    (1981) 7 Fam LR 542

[4]    (1987) FLC 91-808

[5]    (1993) FLC 92-353; [1993] FamCA 3

[6]    at para 45

[7]    (2008) FLC 91-777; [2008] HCA 56

[8]    at para 57

[9]    at para 59. See Henry v Henry [1996] HCA 51; (1996) 185 CLR 571 and Dobson & Van Londen [2005] FamCA 479; (2005) FLC 93-225.

[10]    at para 62

[11]    at paras 73-76

Jacky Campbell

Partner

University qualifications

Master of Laws, Monash University

Bachelor of Laws, Monash University

Bachelor of Arts, Monash University

Graduate Diploma of Professional Writing, Deakin University

Other qualifications
Accredited Family Law Specialist,
Law Institute of Victoria

Email Jacky Campbell
jcampbell@fortefamilylawyers.com.au

Connect on LinkedIn

Publications
To read Jacky Campbell’s articles and papers click here.

In 2020, Jacky was recognised as a leading family lawyer in Melbourne by Doyle’s Guide to the Australian Legal Market as well as one of Melbourne’s leading family lawyers in High-value and Complex Property matters, and a recommended lawyer in parenting matters. Jacky was also a recommended lawyer in the Doyle’s leading family and divorce lawyers in Australia. Jacky writes extensively on complex aspects of family law and her up-to-date knowledge means that she is able to provide accurate information about the law. She combines this with offering strategic advice to clients and guidance as to the best approach to take in their particular circumstances.

Jacky wrote her Masters thesis on the relationship of bankruptcy and family law. She continues to have a special interest in matters involving bankruptcy, insolvency, liquidation and receivership.

Jacky received the Law Institute of Victoria Rogers Legal Writing Award 2004—for the article “Splitting the Super…and Selling the Home”. She is experienced with complex superannuation interests such as defined benefit funds and self managed superannuation funds.

Jacky is the consultant editor of Wolters Kluwer/CCH Australian Family Law and Practice and contributing author to Wolters Kluwer/CCH Australian Family Law and Practice to the Property, Spousal Maintenance, Financial Agreements, Maintenance Agreements, Procedure and Precedents tabs. She writes several chapters of the Wolters/Kluwer CCH Australian Master Family Law Guide, and is the author of the family law chapters in the Thomson-Reuters Australian Financial Planning Handbook and in the CCH Australian Master Superannuation Guide.

Jacky is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, a board member of the Asia Pacific Chapter of that Academy, and an Associate of the American Bar Association. She acts for many clients who are overseas or where there is an international element such as overseas assets and international child abduction under the Hague Convention. She is also experienced in Australian and overseas surrogacy arrangements and in disputes about the role of a sperm donor. She is a member of the Maintenance and Property Committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and Victorian Women Lawyers.

Jacky is keen to assist clients to resolve matters before trial through alternative dispute resolution processes including mediation. She is a trained arbitrator and is an arbitrator with The Alternative Courtroom.

Wendy Kayler-Thomson

PARTNER

University qualifications

Master of Laws, Monash University

Bachelor of Laws, University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Commerce, University of Melbourne

Other qualifications
Accredited Family Law Specialist, Law Institute of Victoria

Email Wendy Kayler-Thomson
wkaylerthomson@fortefamilylawyers.com.au

Connect on LinkedIn

Wendy Kayler-Thomson is a partner of Forte Family Lawyers and has practised as a lawyer specialising in family law for more than 25 years. Wendy is recognised as one of Melbourne’s leading family lawyers in Doyle’s 2020 Guide to the Australian Legal Market.

Wendy is the Immediate Past Chair of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, the peak body for Australian family lawyers, and has been a member of the Executive of the Family Law Section for more than 10 years. The Family Law Section is regularly consulted by the Federal government and the Courts about changes to family law and court procedures. As a result, Wendy is able to offer her clients the most up to date advice on family law and strategies to take advantage of future changes.

Wendy’s time as Chair of the Family Law Section (from 2016 to 2018) coincided with a period of great controversy and unprecedented attention on the reform of family law and the family law system. This included the Victorian Royal Commission into family violence, the Federal Parliamentary enquiry into the family law system and family violence, the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Family Law Review and the Federal Government’s proposal to restructure the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

Wendy was a member of the Advisory Committee to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Family Law Review, the most comprehensive review of family law and the family law sector in 40 years.

Wendy was also a member of the Advisory Committee to the Law Council of Australia’s 2018 Justice Project, chaired by former High Court of Australia Chief Justice, the Hon. Robert French. The Justice Project is one of the most comprehensive, national reviews into the state of access to justice in Australia in the past 40 years.

Wendy develops close and trusted relationships with her clients and the wide network of professionals that refer her work. Wendy’s approach is tailored to each individual client’s needs, recognising that for most people, the breakdown of a relationship is one of their most stressful and challenging experiences. Wendy brings a high attention to detail, strategic advice and a depth of expert knowledge about family law. Wendy has a commercial background and has acted for many clients with complex financial arrangements. She works closely with her clients’ accountants and other professional advisors to ensure that all the complexities of those arrangements, including tax impacts and restructuring, are dealt with as part of any settlement.

Wendy has undertaken extensive training in a wide range of social sciences that impact on families and their children, including family and domestic violence, parental alienation, personality disorders, drug and alcohol addiction and high conflict. Wendy’s clients benefit from her knowledge of the most up to date approaches by child psychologists and other experts to managing the post-separation care arrangements of children. Wendy has particular expertise in cases where one parent wants to relocate with the children interstate or overseas.

Wendy is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators and Victorian Women Lawyers.

Jemma Mackenzie

Senior Associate

University qualifications

Bachelor of Laws (Hons) Monash University
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Monash University

Email Jemma Mackenzie
jmackenzie@fortefamilylawyers.com.au

Other qualifications
Accredited Family Law Specialist,
Law Institute of Victoria

Connect on LinkedIn

Jemma is a Senior Associate at Forte Family Lawyers. She has worked predominantly in family law since being admitted to legal practice in December 2009.

Jemma obtained Specialist Accreditation as a Family Lawyer from the Law Institute of Victoria in 2015. Accreditation recognises the high level of knowledge and practical skills Jemma brings to each family law matter.

Jemma is mindful that the breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship can be a stressful and often overwhelming experience for clients. She works with her clients to identify appropriate pathways for resolving both parenting and property matters.

Jemma prides herself on her ability to effectively communicate what can be complex legal principles and to provide realistic, up to date and accurate legal advice at each stage of a matter.

Jemma has experience in a wide variety of family law matters including division of property, maintenance (including urgent applications), Financial Agreements (including Agreements made prior to marriage), care and living arrangements for children, child support and family violence – including Intervention Order proceedings.

Prior to joining Forte Family Lawyers, Jemma worked in a Bayside family law firm and a boutique firm in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. She has conducted litigation in both the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne and interstate.

In addition to her daily work with clients, Jemma has made presentations to financial advisors and medico-legal professionals about the family law system in Australia and what clients should know about family law prior to separating.

Jemma is a member of Victorian Women Lawyers, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria.

Jane Bentley

Senior Associate

University Qualifications

Masters of Applied Law (Family Law), College of Law

Bachelor of Laws, Victoria University

Bachelor of Science, University of Melbourne

Email Jane Bentley

jbentley@fortefamilylawyers.com.au

Other Qualifications

Accredited Family Law Specialist, Law Institute of Victoria

Jane is a Senior Associate at Forte Family Lawyers. Jane is an Accredited Family Law Specialist as a recognised by the Law Institute of Victoria. Accredited Specialists demonstrate superior knowledge, experience and proficiency in their specialist area of law.

Additionally, Jane has undertaken a Masters of Applied Law in Family Law.

Prior to joining the firm, Jane has worked in both the private and community sectors where she worked on both complex parenting and property matters, regularly appeared in the Family Law Courts and through her work at a commercial firm Jane was able to build and enhance her commercial skills. Throughout her career, Jane has worked collaboratively with commercial lawyers providing advice where both family and commercial law intersect, as well as working directly with professionals on family law matters including psychologists, mediators, accountants and financial advisors.

Jane has a wide range of experience in different family law matters including financial agreements, family violence, parenting, IVF issues, matters involving grandparents, Hague Child Abduction Convention, child support, property and spousal maintenance.

Jane prides herself on her ability to communicate effectively with her clients during an emotional and challenging time. Jane builds strong relationships with her clients as she recognises that the legal system can appear complex and daunting and works with her clients to guide them through the process.

Jane is a member of the Courts Practice and the Property and Maintenance Committees of the Law Institute of Victoria which ensures that she is appraised of recent developments in family law and at the Family Law Courts. Jane is also a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.

Matthew Beckmans

Senior Associate

University qualifications

Bachelor of Laws, University of Western Sydney

Email Matthew Beckmans
mbeckmans@fortefamilylawyers.com.au

Connect on LinkedIn

Matthew commenced his legal career practising in a medium-sized rural law firm. Matthew is able to draw on his broad experiences over a number of practice areas, prior to practising exclusively in family law, to offer clients a well-rounded approach to tactically resolve complex legal issues.

Matthew has developed a special interest in complex disputes involving companies and trusts, insolvency and bankruptcy, taxation, and international/domestic relocation.  He also has a particular expertise in child support.

Matthew is aware and mindful of the financial challenges and restraints when attempting to resolve family law disputes, and sets out to achieve negotiated and cost effective outcomes which avoid court where possible. Matthew recognises the emotional issues attached to the breakdown of a relationship, and draws on his strong communication skills in demystifying the family law process, and to identify and explain possible options for resolution in a concise manner.

Matthew was a member of the steering committee of the Riverina Family Law Pathways Network, secretary of the South West Slopes Law Society, and a mock trial magistrate for the Law Society of New South Wales.

Prior to practising law, Matthew was rookie listed by the Sydney Swans, where he enjoyed a brief career.  He now plays for the Monash Blues in the VAFA.

Matthew is a member of the Family Law Sections of the Law Council of Australia and the Law Institute of Victoria.  He is on the Court Practice Committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria.

Natasha Mastroianni

Senior Associate

University Qualifications

Bachelor of Laws (Hons), Latrobe University

Bachelor of Arts, Latrobe University

Masters of Applied Law (Family Law), College of Law

Email Natasha Mastroianni

nmastroianni@fortefamilylawyers.com.au

 

 

Connect on LinkedIn

Natasha Mastroianni has experience in a range of family law matters, including property settlements, financial agreements, parenting matters (including interstate and overseas relocation issues), child support and intervention order proceedings.

Natasha was admitted to practice in August 2014 and commenced her career in a generalist practice where she gained experience in family law, property law, wills and estates. Natasha worked in a boutique family law practice prior to commencing at Forte in February 2020.

Natasha has a Masters of Applied Law (Family Law) from the College of Law and speaks conversational Italian.

Having practical experience in other areas of law assists Natasha to understand the interrelated issues involved in her clients’ family law matters. She regularly appears on behalf of clients at Duty List Hearings and other Court events in the Federal Circuit Court, Family Court of Australia and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. Natasha also appears as a solicitor agent for interstate or rural practitioners when required.

Natasha prides herself on being able to understand and manage her clients’ expectations whilst providing realistic and practical advice. She acts with empathy and compassion when striving to achieve the best possible results for her clients.

Natasha is a volunteer lawyer with the Women’s Legal Service and is the Vice President of the Northern Suburbs Law Association. She is also a member of the Courts Practice Committee of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and Victorian Women Lawyers.

Vinh Nguyen

Associate

University qualifications

Bachelor of Laws, Deakin University

Bachelor of Commerce, Deakin University

Email Vinh Nguyen
vnguyen@fortefamilylawyers.com.au

Connect on LinkedIn

Vinh first worked at Forte Family Lawyers as part of his Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the Leo Cussen Institute for Law in 2017. He joined Forte Family Lawyers as a lawyer after his admission into legal practice in October 2017 and has, since then, worked solely in family law.

Prior to his admission as a lawyer, Vinh worked as a paralegal in a community legal centre and in a property and commercial law firm, where he gained valuable experience in property transactions.

Vinh is a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Asian Australian Lawyers’ Association. Vinh also volunteers at the Darebin Community Legal Centre.

Vinh is fluent in Vietnamese.

 

 

 

Mark Di Donato

Lawyer

University Qualifications

Bachelor of Criminology and Justice, Navitas College of Public Safety

Juris Doctor, Monash University

Email Mark Di Donato

mdidonato@fortefamilylawyers.com.au

Connect on LinkedIn

Mark started work at Forte Family Lawyers as part of his Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the Leo Cussen Institute for Law in 2019. Mark was later admitted into the legal practice in September 2019 and transitioned into a lawyer role with Forte Family Lawyers in February 2020.

Prior to his admission as a lawyer, Mark volunteered as a paralegal at Darebin Community Legal Centre and interned at a commercial law firm, where he gained valuable experience in property transactions and in intellectual property. Mark also completed a Professional Placement whilst completing his law degree where he provided legal advice on various family law matters through the Monash Law Clinic.

Mark is a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, and the Law Institute of Victoria. Mark volunteers at the Darebin Community Legal Centre and has provided advice on a range of issues including family law.