Find Lawyers in Melbourne, Australia for Government Practice

Practice Area Overview

The term ‘Government’ is used broadly below to refer to a nation state, a government department or agency, or a quasi-government body at any level. Government Practice can encompass:

  • acting for Government in legal matters; and
  • acting for an individual or entity in legal matters against Government.

In Australia, Government is subject to particular legal and policy requirements, and has particular rights and responsibilities, which do not apply to individuals or other entities. These are sometimes imposed or granted to comply with international treaties or agreements; to provide additional transparency, accountability, or probity in the use of public money; to prohibit unfair, uneconomic, or unethical practices; or to assist in implementing other laws. For example, a Government body may be subject to particular legal restrictions when purchasing goods or services, or commencing or defending legal claims, that do not apply to private citizens in the same jurisdiction.

Government Practice requires a specialist understanding of the particular legal, regulatory, and policy requirements and other issues and considerations (such as practices or processes) which apply to the matter solely because Government is involved in the matter, in addition to understanding any legal issues which apply to the matter regardless of Government involvement. Therefore, Government Practice intersects with many other legal practice areas, including commercial law, contract law, construction, real estate, litigation, and employment.  
For example, a legal practitioner in Government Practice could specialise in advising Government on commercial contracts. Such a practitioner would need to be a specialist in contract and commercial law generally and also in understanding and advising on the additional regulatory requirements which apply to Government when undertaking commercial contracting. 

In addition to having specialised expertise in another practice area, it is also likely that a Government Practice practitioner will have specialised expertise in a specific jurisdiction (eg Australia) and a specific level of Government (eg federal, state, or local) within that jurisdiction. This is because the regulatory and policy framework which applies to Government activities often differs substantially between jurisdictions and between levels of Government in those jurisdictions.

Government Practice is distinct from Administrative Law in that Government Practice may not involve advising on Government decision-making or rule-making powers or the exercise of those powers, but could encompass advising on any matter, transaction, or dealing undertaken by, or relating to, Government.

Sharon Rowe, Principal

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