Vermeesch, Paul

Deputy Chief Solicitor Dispute Resolution

Paul has an excellent understanding of the operations of government and the public sector. He is a trusted adviser to government with over 30 years of broad-ranging experience as a government lawyer. He is valued for his legal analysis, strategic advice and focus on solutions.

 

He has particular expertise as an adviser and litigator in administrative law, industrial, employment, workplace relations and legal liability matters. He has conducted cases in all federal courts and a wide range of other courts and tribunals.

 

He is the author of 2 of AGS’s most popular and cited publications, AGS’s Legal Briefings on Misconduct in the Australian Public Service and Dealing effectively with unsatisfactory performance in the Australian Public Service.

Recent experience

Paul’s recent work includes:

  • conduct in the Fair Work Commission of 2 applications by the Department of Home Affairs (formerly Immigration and Border Protection) to prevent protected industrial action being taken under s 424 of the Fair Work Act 2009 because of its impact on Australian Border Force operations and threat to public health and safety: DIBP v CPSU [2016] FWC 2526 and [2016] FWC 7184
  • conduct of arbitration proceedings before the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for determination of the terms and conditions of employment of non-SES employees in Department of Home Affairs: [2017] FWCFB 4200, [2017] FWCFB 5214 and [2018] FWCFB 3415 (interlocutory decisions)[2019] FWCFB 143 (reasons for determination; and Department of Home Affairs Workplace Determination 2019 [AG501682].
  • Conduct of the Australian Electoral Commission’s defence of Mr Clive Palmer’s expedited proceedings in the High Court seeking orders to prevent the AEC in the 2019 federal election from following its usual practice of publishing certain information about the count of votes by the AEC during the poll.

This was done on the asserted basis that the AEC was not authorised by the Constitution or statute to publish the identity of the candidates selected for the indicative ‘two-candidate-preferred count,’ nor the progressive results of that count, before close of the polls in all Divisions across Australia. The High Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ application: [2019] HCA 24

  • successful defence of claims of defamation and injurious falsehood and related legal proceedings in AustAsia Group Pty Ltd v Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (WAD 266 of 2019) about information proposed to be published on ACNC Register
  • successful defence of judicial review proceedings challenging the power of the AFP Commissioner to take disciplinary action by way of demotion: O’Sullivan v Commissioner of Police [2019] FCA 1367.

Qualifications

Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Arts, University of New South Wales, 1984

Recognition

AGS Australia Day Award 2002 for excellence in the delivery of legal services in administrative law, for diligence and skill in handling sensitive major litigation matters, and in recognition of professional support of colleagues.