Governance & probity

Keeping the faith

Public faith in the decisions made by a local or state government organisation and in the actions of its members, is key to the proper functioning of government.

LTL’s expertise covers not only assisting public sector organisations when their decisions or actions are called into question, but ensuring that they can prevent this through building and maintaining their policies, systems and processes to help ensure that the behaviour of their personnel remains above reproach, and their decisions are transparent, fair and robust.

LTL is regularly called upon to provide guidance and assistance on questions of powers, delegations, corporate policies, official conduct, meeting procedures, conflicts of interest, election returns, the review of public decisions, public interest complaints and statutory interpretation of the specific legislation which underpins the existence and running of many public sector organisations.

Our experience covers the provision of advice, and carrying out and assisting organisations respond to investigations – including investigations by the Independent Commission against Corruption and the Office of Local Government – running litigation in various courts and tribunals, and acting as independent reviewers of government decisions.

In all our work – but particularly in relation to investigations and complaints – we understand the importance of these issues for the organisations as a whole, for the reputations of individuals involved, and for the broader public interest. Discretion, care and rigour are our guiding principles.

Where we can assist

We are regularly required to provide legal advice and representation on the full range of governance matters, including:

  • the roles and responsibilities of Councils, councillors, General Managers and council staff
  • the roles and responsibilities of Ministers, advisers and departmental staff
  • meeting procedures, delegations, risk management and compliance policies
  • disclosure of interests, including pecuniary interests, disclosures of political donations and gifts, and protected disclosures
  • elections, voting and constitutional referendums
  • relations between differing government agencies, including various tiers of government
  • investigations into public sector activities or personnel by other agencies such as the ICAC, the Ombudsman and the Office of Local Government
  • access to information and privacy issues
  • suspension of councillors and staff, and disqualification and dismissal of councillors from civic office

We have specialist expertise in providing legal advice to the General Manager, conduct review committees and sole reviewers on legal issues and procedures relating to the investigation of Code of Conduct complaints including:

  • the proper characterisation of a breach of a code of conduct based on the terms of a complaint
  • the proper scope of initial inquiries to determine whether a complaint may be dismissed without an investigation or should be investigated
  • the content of the rules of natural justice that apply to an investigation and whether they have been followed during an investigation
  • whether the evidence obtained by a conduct review committee or a sole reviewer establishes a breach of the relevant code of conduct
  • protected disclosure, privacy and defamation issues relating to a complaint
  • conflict of interest issues relating to conduct review committee members and sole reviewers
  • reviewing in draft the final report of the conduct review committee or sole reviewer to ensure that it complies with the relevant laws
  • assisting conduct review committees and sole reviewers with preparing correspondence in the course of an investigation