Articles written by Derek Mortimer
LL.B, Grad Dip Legal Prac., Grad Cert Dispute Res. Admitted to practice in the Supreme Courts of NSW and Victoria.
Derek Mortimer is principal of DF Mortimer & Associates, a Melbourne based boutique law firm established in 2009 that practises exclusively in not-for-profit and charity law. Derek has a reputation for patience, diplomacy and fairness when assisting with the resolution of internal disputes within not for profit organisations. He is valued by his clients for his down to earth, empathetic approach to their needs for legal assistance
Derek founded the Law Institute Victoria “Charities and Not for profit Law Committee” and served as its chair for 9 years. He continues to sit on that committee. Derek contributes submissions, presentations and articles to a variety of government agency reviews, public forums and peer reviewed journals. In particular Derek has contributed chapters on “Formation” and “Dispute Management” to the Thomson Reuters Not for Profit Best Practice Manual (2013).
Preventing and De-escalating NFP Dysfunction: The Role of the Chair
A recurring and often distressed request we hear from NFP chairs and board members is “how to prevent and de-escalate dysfunction”. If only a single answer was big enough to accommodate the range of human values, emotions and agendas one might see expressed by members of an NFP board!1 In this article I discuss some principles that might assist an NFP chair to help prevent dysfunction within the NFP. I do not pretend to have all the answers.
Getting Basic Membership Rights Right
The existence of many member-based organisations relies on maintenance of the organisation’s good reputation. What is often overlooked is the need for such organisations to respect the reputation of their members.1 This case note stands as a reminder to committees to know their constitution and respect basic membership rights, especially when navigating a decision as critical as changing strategic direction. Summary In 2022, a case was heard in the Melbourne’s Magistrates Court by a claim under the oppressive conduct provisions of the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 (Vic) (“AIR Act”).
An NFP Dispute: a Tale of Two Hugs
Summary This story concerns a cultural group that formed a church in a Melbourne suburb to promote their faith. During 2019 an “us and them” culture developed with a new church committee adopting an authoritarian populist governance style. I do not make judgment about that style but mention it to set the scene. I acted for certain members (the “accused” members) who faced accusations from the committee and the committee’s associates.
Reversing the Onus of Proof: a Proactive Response to Preventing Abuse Within NFPs
Legislation that creates a statutory duty of care is likely to have an important impact on the governance culture of not-for-profit organisations involved in caring and supervising children, but it also presents some challenges if that culture is to change. Background Changes to the law are appearing throughout Australia to create a statutory duty of care for organisations involved with caring and supervising children1. The changes mean that a child abuse survivor does not need to prove that the relevant organisation has a duty of care; instead, the organisation must be able to prove that it took reasonable precautions to avoid liability.
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