AGS lawyers appointed as Commonwealth Queen’s Counsel

Three AGS lawyers appointed as Commonwealth Queen’s Counsel

Three of our most experienced lawyers have been formally recognised for their outstanding talents as lawyers for the Commonwealth.

Leo Hardiman PSM, Tim Begbie and Andrew Berger have been appointed as Commonwealth Queen’s Counsel. This continues a fine tradition of Queen’s Counsel practising at AGS with the trio joining Tom Howe PSM QC and Guy Aitken QC in this elite group.

All 5 are at the heart of AGS’s unique whole-of-government perspective and capability, combining to provide a level of knowledge, experience and wisdom that is unmatched.

A total of 4 new appointments were announced by the Attorney-General. Peter Quiggin PSM, First Parliamentary Counsel at the Office of Parliamentary Counsel was also a distinguished appointee.

Appointment as a QC recognises advocates and practitioners with significant experience at high levels, and outstanding skills and expertise in a field of Commonwealth law.

Leo Hardiman PSM QC has long and significant experience as a government lawyer to successive governments advising on complex constitutional, statutory interpretation, government and administrative law matters of significance and sensitivity.  Leo has been the Government’s principal legal adviser on the establishment of Royal Commissions since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and has provided ongoing advice on the operation of those Commissions. He provided extensive advice on marriage reform, particularly on possible amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 to provide for same-sex marriage.

Leo was a key legal adviser on the Government’s response to the decisions of the High Court in Williams v Commonwealth (2012) 248 CLR 156 and Williams v Commonwealth [No.2] (2014) 252 CLR 416. Leo’s advice was central to assisting the Government to minimise the impact of those decisions on Commonwealth activities while at the same time providing a legally defensible basis for those activities to continue.

Tim Begbie QC appears in significant regulatory and law enforcement cases, national security matters, and a wide array of complex public law matters. He regularly appears as lead counsel at trial and appellate levels and has appeared with Solicitors-General in a range of matters in the High Court and Full Federal Court, most recently in Commonwealth v Helicopter Resources (2020) 94 ALJR 466.

Tim’s work in civil regulation has helped shape the law in this area. He has appeared for nearly every Commonwealth regulator in civil penalty proceedings, including in leading and precedent-setting cases. He has played a fundamental role, in and out of court, in establishing the Commonwealth’s position on important issues across the large number of civil penalty regimes and his work is regularly used as a precedent by regulators. Tim appeared with the Solicitor-General in Commonwealth v Director, Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (2015) 258 CLR 482, the leading High Court case in the area.

Andrew Berger QC has represented and advised Commonwealth clients in many of the most sensitive legal matters the Commonwealth has been involved in, across a broad range of legal areas and in many different jurisdictions including the High Court and the Federal Court. He is acknowledged for his work on particularly complex, risky, sensitive or otherwise important matters.

Andrew has recently appeared in a number of cases involving the protection of national security information as well as a number of cases raising important questions concerning the interpretation and application of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. Andrew’s expertise has had a significant impact on a series of royal commissions, inquests and inquiries, as well as on issues in common law, administrative law, workers’ compensation, public interest immunity, law enforcement, international law and national security.

Australian Government Solicitor Michael Kingston said:

‘I want to congratulate Leo, Tim and Andrew on behalf of their colleagues at AGS on this significant and fitting recognition of their skills, expertise and judgment as lawyers for the Commonwealth.’

‘Elevation to the rank of one of Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law is a tremendous accolade for Leo, Tim and Andrew, and some of the ensuing lustre will fall on, and benefit, AGS.’

The availability of senior counsel at AGS to appear for and advise Commonwealth clients adds another dimension to the legal representation that AGS is able to provide. It offers Commonwealth clients a number of significant advantages over briefing senior counsel at the private bar, including their vast experience in public law and administration and their co-location with other AGS solicitors which ensures they are readily integrated as part of the Australian Government’s legal team.

We are delighted to acknowledge the achievements of Leo, Tim and Andrew.