Norton Rose Fulbright
Norton Rose Fulbright (Ivan Maslarov)

Norton Rose Fulbright‘s Australian arm has been sued by an ex-partner over his termination last year, according to court records.

Former Perth partner Tom Martin has filed a lawsuit against the firm in the Federal Court of Australia, claiming monetary and reputational loss as a result of his dismissal from the firm in July 2016, the Australian Financial Review reported.*

Martin’s suit is in response to—and in parallel with—a related judicial review application filed by Norton Rose Fulbright in September. Both cases will be heard together before Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney in Sydney.

According to court documents obtained by the Australian Financial Review, in July 2016, Martin, who at the time had been a partner with the firm for 14 months, was terminated from his position by Australia managing partner Wayne Spanner. Just a few days before that, Martin had sent Spanner an email indicating that he might seek mediation over a dispute with the firm, the AFR reported. It did not specify what the dispute was about.

In August, three weeks after his termination, Martin, an employment lawyer himself, filed a general protections application to the Fair Work Commission against Norton Rose Fulbright over his dismissal, the AFR report said.

The Fair Work Commission was created in 2009 under the Fair Work Act as a tribunal to hear workplace relations disputes. Employees are allowed to seek general protections when the employer takes an adverse action such as dismissal because they have exercised a “workplace right,” such as commencing a court action.

In September, Norton Rose Fulbright filed a complaint before the Federal Court challenging the Fair Work Commission’s jurisdiction over the matter. The firm argued that Martin was not fired from his employment but was terminated from the firm’s partnership, thus the Fair Work Act rules don’t apply.

Martin claimed that Norton Rose Fulbright had deceived him into believing that the firm wasn’t going to file the judicial review case and led him to pause the Fair Work Commission proceedings, according to the AFR report. He argued that the firm’s behaviors denied him the opportunity to pursue his general protections petition before the Fair Work Commission.

An Australia-based spokesperson said Norton Rose Fulbright has not been served but is aware of the suit filed by Martin. “The firm will be defending its and its partners’ position in the proceedings. As the matter is currently before the court, it is not appropriate to comment further,” the spokesperson said.

Martin is represented by Harmers Workplace Lawyers chairman Michael Harmer. Norton Rose Fulbright Sydney partner David Cross is representing the firm alongside Maddocks Sydney partner Bruce Heddle.

Norton Rose Fulbright, which recently announced it was merging with New York-based Chadbourne & Parke , is structured under a Swiss verein, where each partnership is legally and financially independent. The Australian arm of the firm is a result of a 2010 merger between legacy Norton Rose and local firm Deacons Australia.

*Correction 3/8: A previous version of this story stated a lawsuit was filed by a former Norton Rose Fulbright Australia partner against the firm and four partners. In fact, while the partners were mentioned in the complaint, only Norton Rose Fulbright was named a defendant. The second paragraph of this story has been modified to reflect that. We regret the error. 

Norton Rose Fulbright ‘s Australian arm has been sued by an ex-partner over his termination last year, according to court records.

Former Perth partner Tom Martin has filed a lawsuit against the firm in the Federal Court of Australia, claiming monetary and reputational loss as a result of his dismissal from the firm in July 2016, the Australian Financial Review reported.*

Martin’s suit is in response to—and in parallel with—a related judicial review application filed by Norton Rose Fulbright in September. Both cases will be heard together before Federal Court Justice Michael Wigney in Sydney.

According to court documents obtained by the Australian Financial Review, in July 2016, Martin, who at the time had been a partner with the firm for 14 months, was terminated from his position by Australia managing partner Wayne Spanner. Just a few days before that, Martin had sent Spanner an email indicating that he might seek mediation over a dispute with the firm, the AFR reported. It did not specify what the dispute was about.

In August, three weeks after his termination, Martin, an employment lawyer himself, filed a general protections application to the Fair Work Commission against Norton Rose Fulbright over his dismissal, the AFR report said.

The Fair Work Commission was created in 2009 under the Fair Work Act as a tribunal to hear workplace relations disputes. Employees are allowed to seek general protections when the employer takes an adverse action such as dismissal because they have exercised a “workplace right,” such as commencing a court action.

In September, Norton Rose Fulbright filed a complaint before the Federal Court challenging the Fair Work Commission’s jurisdiction over the matter. The firm argued that Martin was not fired from his employment but was terminated from the firm’s partnership, thus the Fair Work Act rules don’t apply.

Martin claimed that Norton Rose Fulbright had deceived him into believing that the firm wasn’t going to file the judicial review case and led him to pause the Fair Work Commission proceedings, according to the AFR report. He argued that the firm’s behaviors denied him the opportunity to pursue his general protections petition before the Fair Work Commission.

An Australia-based spokesperson said Norton Rose Fulbright has not been served but is aware of the suit filed by Martin. “The firm will be defending its and its partners’ position in the proceedings. As the matter is currently before the court, it is not appropriate to comment further,” the spokesperson said.

Martin is represented by Harmers Workplace Lawyers chairman Michael Harmer. Norton Rose Fulbright Sydney partner David Cross is representing the firm alongside Maddocks Sydney partner Bruce Heddle.

Norton Rose Fulbright , which recently announced it was merging with New York-based Chadbourne & Parke , is structured under a Swiss verein, where each partnership is legally and financially independent. The Australian arm of the firm is a result of a 2010 merger between legacy Norton Rose and local firm Deacons Australia.

*Correction 3/8: A previous version of this story stated a lawsuit was filed by a former Norton Rose Fulbright Australia partner against the firm and four partners. In fact, while the partners were mentioned in the complaint, only Norton Rose Fulbright was named a defendant. The second paragraph of this story has been modified to reflect that. We regret the error.