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A self-confessed media junkie, Justin has always had a keen interest in journalism and the media, almost becoming a journalist himself. Now he not only advises on every aspect of media, but is called on as an expert commentator.
Thrust into a senior role early in his career, Justin has gained experience in media law that is beyond his 20 plus year career length. However, knowing the law is one thing; Justin’s ability to know how to utilise this knowledge is what really sets him apart.
His passion for free speech motivates him to work hard for his clients and his love of the subject means he has developed a deep understanding of the importance of his clients’ right to publish. This makes him the choice of high profile clients and organisations when these principles and livelihoods are at stake.
“Clients come to us for quality advice, not just good service. I was well trained and work really hard for my clients – we think those factors make our team the best at what we do.”
chambers asia pacific, band one ranking for media, 2014-2019
In December 2018, Cardinal George Pell, the world’s third highest ranking Catholic priest, was found guilty of child sex offences. The case attracted enormous media attention in Australia and throughout the world, but Cardinal Pell was to face a second trial, so a suppression order was put in place. An unprecedented 54 media organisations and individuals have been threatened with the criminal offence of contempt of Court for their reports about the December Pell conviction. Justin and team are acting for all 36 who have been charged and who have entrusted him with their livelihoods.
Mouhammad and Pamela Tabbaa sued Channel Nine in relation to a 60 Minutes broadcast in which their daughter Nadia shared her childhood story. In the broadcast, Nadia said at age of 13 she was tricked by her family into travelling to Syria, where she was forced to marry her cousin and was held against her will until she escaped to Australia with foreign consular assistance on her 18th birthday. In the broadcast, Nadia also told of the violence and threats perpetrated by her father against her and members of her family. Nadia’s parents alleged that the broadcast was not true and therefore defamatory. Justin and team acted for Channel Nine in the three proceedings, spanning almost five weeks, held in the NSW Supreme Court. This involved a complex set of facts, attempts to talk to government officials in foreign embassies and witness giving evidence from overseas. Nadia was forced to relive her horrible childhood in the witness box under gruelling-cross examination. Although Channel Nine were ultimately the client, all involved understood it was critical to defend Nadia’s story so winning the case was a triumphant vindication.
Atkinson Prakash Charan sued Nationwide News over an article published in The Australian newspaper, which he allegedly conveyed he engaged in unscrupulous business practices in the management of a group of registered training organisations. Justin and team successfully defended the claim in what became Victoria’s longest running defamation trial, 34 sitting days. Mr Charan appealed the decision, which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in early 2019 and Nationwide News was awarded its appeal costs. Mr Charan appealed the Court of Appeal’s decision to the High Court of Australia, where a decision is yet to be determined. In a situation where many media outlets would have settled the matter, the client and their confidence in Justin meant they were willing to stand and fight. Justin and team were able to achieve a win for the client despite the difficulties in proving Mr Charan was acting fraudulently.