Emil Ford Lawyers


Upcoming Seminars/Conferences 

Television Education Network
First Annual Schools Law and Regulation Conference
Thursday, 28 and Friday, 29 April 2016
Intercontinental Hotel, Melbourne

David will be speaking on Thursday, 28 April on the topic “The Principal and Board – An Essential Governance Dynamic”. 

Visit the Television Education Network First Annual Schools Law and Regulation Conference webpage for more details and how to register.


Lawsense School Law Seminar
Tuesday, 24 May 2016
The Pullman Hyde Park

David Ford will be speaking on two topics:

  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Students: Reviewing a School’s Legal Obligations and Practical Matters to Consider
  • Radicalisation of Students: Understanding the School’s Duty of Care, Dealing with Suspicions of Criminal Activity and Dealing with Police

**This event has already sold out!  A repeat event has been organised (see below)**

Wednesday, 1 June 2016
8.45am – 5.15pm. Morn: 8.45am-1.15pm Afternoon: 2.00pm-5.15pm
UNSW CBD Campus, Level 6, 1 O’Connell Street, Sydney

Visit the Lawsense School Law Seminar webpage for more information and how to register.


Past Seminars/Conferences 

Joint Legal Conference

‘Managing Risk in Schools’

A joint conference between CIRCLE and Emil Ford Lawyers.

CIRCLE – The Centre for Innovation, Research, Creativity and Leadership in Education is an executive agency in education, which works with over 1,750 schools and other organisations in Australia and beyond and draws on nearly 3 decades of consultancy, review, research, publication, training and development.

EMIL FORD LAWYERS is a legal firm that has specialised in providing legal services to the education sector throughout Australia for 30 years.

Date: Wednesday 28 October 2015
Time: 12:00 noon – 4:00pm (Lunch provided from 12:00 noon – 1:00pm)
Venue: UTS University Aerial UTS Function Centre, Building 10, Level 7, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo 2007, NSW (5 min walk from Central train station)
Who should attend: This seminar was designed for people who are in key leadership positions: Principals, Deputies, Heads of schools, Business Managers, HR Managers.

Conference Session Outline

1:00 – 1:10pm CIRCLE Introduction
1:10 – 2:30pm Emil Ford Lawyers

  • Managing Risks in Workplace Health and Safety - Are you an officer with duties under workplace health and safety laws?
  • Child Protection - How can a good child protection policy assist you manage risks in this area?
  • Deeds of Indemnity, Insurance and Access - Should you be a party to such a deed?

2.30-2.45pm Tea Break
2.45-3.30pm Emil Ford Lawyers

  • Managing Risks in Enrolments
  • Disability Discrimination
  • Fee Recovery

3.30-4.00pm CIRCLE

"Risk Management in Schools - 5 principles/strategies & characteristics of a school that manages risk" (interactive session)


Educate Plus NSW/ACT Chapter Conference
Date: Wednesday 5 August and Thursday 6 August 2015
Venue: Loretto, Normanhurst

David Ford and Mark McCrindle (social researcher and best-selling author) spoke during this conference on the topic “The 21st Century Household: what it looks like and its implications for enrolments”. They considered:

  • Household Structure
  • Older Parents
  • Role of grandparents
  • Split families
  • Mobile families

Mark examined what the 21st Century Household looks like and then David explored the implications for enrolments.

The combination of David’s legal knowledge and Mark’s expertise in social research ensured that this was a not-to-be-missed opportunity for executive and admissions staff to learn more about the ever changing face of the Australian family and how it affects enrolment policies and procedures.


Association of School Business Administrators (ASBA)
Professional Development Day (For ASBA Members)
Date:  Friday 12 June 2015
Venue:  Riverina Anglican College, Farrer Road, Wagga Wagga

Warwick van Ede spoke at this seminar for ASBA Members on the topic of Enrolment Contracts and Fee Collection.  Other topics covered on the day were:

  • Employee Relations
  • Governance and AIS Update
  • Fringe Benefits Tax
  • Marketing and Fundraising.

Follow this link for details on becoming an ASBA member.


Lawsense Law for School Counsellors
Date: 3 June 2015, 9.00am-5.15pm
Venue: The Grace Hotel, 77 York Street, Sydney

David Ford was the morning Chairperson at this seminar which was helping school counsellors, psychologists and wellbeing officers navigate legal issues and risks.

Topics of discussion included:

  • Navigating Family Law Issues and Understanding Court Orders and How the School Should Respond
  • Clarifying the Boundaries of a School Counsellor’s Duty of Care
  • Reviewing Key Confidentiality and Privacy Issues for School Counsellors and Practical
  • Approaches to Addressing them in Both Public and Private Schools
  • Dealing Effectively With Subpoenas, Obligations to the Court and Court Appearances
  • Outlining Best Practice Case Note and Report Writing to Address Legal Issues and
  • Risks - A Clinician’s Perspective

This seminar was primarily targeted at School Counsellors but would have also been of benefit to anyone working in the counselling/psychology field. 

Legalwise: School Law Seminar
Date: 27 May 2015, 9.00am to 5.15pm
Venue: UNSW CBD Campus, Sydney

David Ford spoke at this seminar on the topic of School Sport and the Law including:

  • Duty of Care
  • Parental behaviour: Do parents have a duty of care?
  • Child protection
  • Privacy
  • Racial discrimination
  • Drug testing

Lawsense School Law Seminar
Date: 29 April 2015
Venue: The Grace Hotel, 77 York Street, Sydney

David Ford was the morning chairperson at this seminar. Attendees heard from expert speakers discussing topics such as family law, handling students with behavioural issues, record keeping obligations, cyberbullying and various workplace/employment issues.


School Nurses Association of NSW Conference
Date: 19 January and 20 January 2015
Venue: Swissotel, 68 Market Street, Sydney

Nathan Croot was one of the speakers at this Conference. Nathan spoke on the topic of "law, confidentiality and school nurses".

LawSense Seminar: Law for School Counsellors
Date: 8 October 2014
Venue: UNSW CBD Campus, 1 O'Connell Street, Sydney

David Ford chaired this seminar at which Emil Ford's Nathan Croot was a speaker. Nathan's topic was "Reviewing Key Confidentiality and Privacy Issues for School Counsellors and Practical Approaches to Addressing them in both Public & Private Schools."

Seminar: School Law: Legal Challenges for Staff and Students
Date: Wednesday 11th June 2014
Time: 9.00am to 5.15pm
Venue: UNSW CBD Campus, Level 6, 1 O'Connell Street, Sydney

David Ford spoke on the topic of School Discipline, including:

  • School Rules & Discipline Policies
  • Procedural Fairness
  • Suspension & Expulsion
  • Beyond the gate?
  • When to call the cops

Read a copy of David Ford's paper on School Discipline.

Lawsense School Law Seminar: Addressing pressing legal issues in schools
Date: Wednesday, 7 May 2014
Time: 8.45am to 5.15pm
Venue: UNSW CBD Campus, Level 6, 1 O’Connell Street, Sydney

Nathan Croot spoke at this seminar on Privacy: Understanding the ‘New’ Legislation to Ensure You Legally Release, Collect and Retain Information

  • Determining who can and should have access to information
  • Clarifying what the ‘new’ privacy legislation says about access to and protection of student information
  • Examining privacy legislation and the impact on technology, access to and protection of student information and use of information by the school

David Ford was the convenor of a panel discussion of pressing legal issues for schools such as:

  • Managing family law issues at schools
  • What is the school’s responsibility for managing issues offsite and out of school hours
  • Discharging duties under Work Health and Safety, discrimination, privacy, child protection laws and the duty of care
  • Child protection in 2014
  • Managing student information

Panel participants:

Margaret Baker, Principal Legal Officer (Legislation and Policy), Legal Services Unit, NSW Department of Education and Communities
Ben Fogarty, Barrister, Denman Chambers
Gary Johnson, Principal, Cherrybrook Technology High School
Susan Bridge, Principal, Cheltenham Girls’ High School


EducatePlus Professional Development Day
Date: Wednesday, 9 April 2014
Venue: The King’s School, Parramatta

Nathan Croot spoke at the EducatePlus Professional Development day on the topic of Changes to the Privacy Act.

We are pleased to announce that we are now sponsors of EducatePlus (formerly ADAPE) which is a not-for-profit membership organisation of advancement and development professionals working in the education sector.

If you are interested in learning more about EducatePlus please visit the EducatePlus website.


ASBA Tasmania Professional Development Day
Date:  21 March 2014
Venue:  Community Christian Academy, Tudor Avenue, Newstead (Tas)

ASBA is the Association of School Business Administrators.  Nathan Croot spoke at their Professional Development day on the topic of Privacy.

To find out more about ASBA visit the ASBA website.


Australian Communities Forum
Date: Friday, 1 November 2013
Venue: Customs House, Sydney

Emil Ford Lawyers were sponsors of this one-day event which helps businesses connect and understand their community.

Attendees at this seminar were equipped with the latest trends redefining Australian communities with a focus on how to build, shape and engage your community in all their diversity.


UNSW School Law Update
Date: 31 October 2013
Venue: The Grace Hotel, 77 York Street, Sydney

John Murn of Emil Ford Lawyers was one of the speakers at this half day seminar. He was speaking on the topic - Dealing with very difficult customers: an overview of the law plus tips for avoiding the disproportionate diversion of resources and management time on difficult parents, staff or students.

John covered issues such as:

Problematic Parents: dealing with confrontation, violence and threats made to staff and other members of the school community, beyond the AVO.
Stressful Staff: managing the unmanageable, mental health issues, serious allegations
Stultifying Students: extreme challenging behaviours, engaged in serious crimes, previously expelled.
Tips and guidance: when to call your legal advisor, the police or a psychologist.

ANZELA Twilight Seminar
Date: Thursday, 29 August 2013
Venue: The Auditorium, Bishop Barry Centre
St Andrew's Cathedral School

Nathan Croot of Emil Ford Lawyers spoke about “New Privacy Legislation: How to prepare for the changes". The other topics discussed were "Harassment and Bullying - How the current law can impact on schools"


The first national Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium
Date: 18-19 July 2013

At this Symposium, arranged by the National Centre Against Bullying, David Ford participated with a group of pre-eminent legal experts who met in Melbourne to explore the increasing need for comprehensive and new national laws to address bullying and cyberbullying.

David spoke about the potential liability of schools and teachers to students who are bullied, examining what the courts have been saying about what amounts to a breach of the duty of care in this area. He was also on a panel of academics from Queensland University of Technology, Flinders University, the University of Adelaide, James Cook University and the Australian Catholic University who are all involved in a current research project into bullying and the law.  Emil Ford Lawyers are partners in this project.

Click here to read the resulting recommendations from the first national Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium.


The Association of School Business Administrators (QLD) Inc
Professional Development Seminar (and General Meeting)
Date: Friday, 7 June 2013
Venue: Ipswich (Queensland)

David Ford spoke at this seminar presenting on the topic of Legal Issues for Schools.


Legalwise School Law Seminar
Date: Wednesday 12 June 2013
9.00am - 1.15pm
Venue: The Grace Hotel, Sydney from 9am to 1.15pm

David Ford chaired this seminar at which Nathan Croot of Emil Ford Lawyers presented on the topic of 'New' Privacy Legislation - How to prepare for the changes.

Other presentations were made on the following topics:

  • Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying – Your Increased Obligations
  • OH&S Issues: Latest decisions
  • Family Law – Schools’ legal obligations in this area
  • Managing Social Media in Schools – Where does the law stand?


School Nurses of NSW Annual Conference
Dates: 21-22 January 2013
Venue: Swissotel, Sydney CBD

Luke Scandrett spoke on the topic of “Legal Issues in Nursing” at this conference.  His talk covered duty of care, child protection and confidentiality obligations.  The theme of the conference was “School Nursing – A Clinical Approach”.


ANZELA Annual Conference
Dates: 3-4-5 October 2012
Venue: Sudimo Hotel, Rotorua

2012's Annual conference of Australian & New Zealand Education Law Association (ANZELA) was held in beautiful Rotorua.

The theme of the conference was Woteva nxt! Legal and Social Challenges in Education.


The Bursars Association of NSW Inc 2012 State Conference
Dates: 4-5-6 October 2012
Venue: The Illawarra Grammar School, 10-12 Western Avenue, Mangerton

The theme of this conference was "Business Matters". There were several industry experts presenting on relevant topics including our own Nathan Croot who spoke about Enrolments and Debt Collection.

Other topics included:

Dealing with challenges of the Business Manager;
BYOD & the Cloud;
The fundamentals of connecting with people;
Human Rights - should we care?
Updating the world.
For further details or to register download The Bursars Association of NSW Inc 2012 Program and Registration Details.


Christian Schools National Business Conference 2012
Dates: 19-20-21 September 2012
Venue: Hilton, Adelaide

David Ford presented a workshop on Crisis Management: the legal considerations and Nathan Croot conducted a workshop on Privacy in Schools. 


ANZELA Queensland Chapter Conference
Date: 10 August 2012
Venue: Presentation Area, First Floor, Lavalla Centre, 58 Fernberg Road, Paddington (Brisbane)

David Ford spoke at this one day conference. His topic was Counselling and Confidentiality. The rest of the program was interesting and varied covering other issues such as Human Rights Education: the integration of human rights education
in the national curriculum and the Australian Human Rights
Commission's work in this area, Social Media & more.

ASBA Tasmania State Conference
Dates:  2-3 August 2012
Venue:  Launceston Country Club

David Ford spoke at this Conference (held by Association of School Business Administrators)on the topic of Crisis Management - Legal Considerations.


Duty of Care For Teachers
Dates:  Various!
Venues:  Near and Far

David Ford has been travelling far and wide spreading the word about Duty of Care for Teachers.  He has discussed this topic with teachers at:

  • Kormilda College, Darwin
  • Good Shepherd Lutheran College, Darwin
  • Barker College, Sydney.


Adape (Association of Development and Alumni professionals in Education) NSW Professional Development Conference
Date:  29 March 2012
Venue:  Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney

Nathan Croot presented a workshop on Dealing with families of special needs during the enrolment process at this conference where he discussed some of the main legal considerations when enrolling special needs children.  This included what statements should be added to the application form and enrolment contract, and when it is okay to say no.


The Association of Independent Schools of NSW Limited
Masterclass Series - Enrolment
Date:  Thursday 22 March 2012, 9.00am - 12pm
Venue:  AIS Conference Centre, Level 12, 99 York Street, Sydney

A range of legal and industry experts provided pragmatic advice to schools on various topics concerning Enrolment. David Ford made a presentation on Pursuit of Debts under the Enrolment Contract.

Legal Issues in Schools
Date:  Tuesday 27th March 2012, 1.30pm-5.00pm
Venue:  The New South Wales State Legal Conference
                SMC Conference Centre,
                Corner of Goulburn and Castlereagh Streets, Sydney

In this seminar, chaired by David Ford, general issues relating to schools were addressed by Alex Kohn. He reviewed some recent cases involving a number of relevant issues for the education sector including duty of care.

Des Kennedy SC gave a presentation on bullying and related issues focusing on a recent Supreme Court decision of Schmidt J in Oyston v St Patrick's College.

Margaret Baker considered concerns and procedures relating to preparing a school for litigation.

Greg Walsh spoke on litigating school assault and abuse cases.

Linton Morris SC addressed the difficult area of mediation in school related legal issues.

UNSW School Law Update
Date: Thursday 26 May 2011, 8.30am - 1.00pm
Venue: UNSW CBD Campus, Level 6, 1 O'Connell Street, Sydney

This seminar was aimed at providing schools and their advisors with essential information for managing legal obligations, risks and liabilities. David Ford spoke about School Sport and the Law.

Click here for a copy of David Ford's paper on School Sport and the Law.

Legalwise School Law Seminar
Date: 1 June 2011, 9.00am - 1.15pm
Venue: UNSW CBD Campus, Level 6, 1 O'Connell Street, Sydney

David Ford made a presentation on School Counsellors and Confidentiality:

The duty of confidentiality and privacy
When is disclosure allowed?
Other speakers were:

Karen Conte-Mills, Barrister, Arthur Phillip Chambers
Topic: Families, Conflict, the Court and the School: Practical Advice
Terry Manns, Senior Investigation Officer, Employment-Related Child Protection Team, NSW Ombudsman
Topic: Investigating Teacher Misconduct
Margaret Baker, Senior Legal Officer, NSW Department of Education and Training
Topic: Surviving the Litigation Process: Strategies for Schools
Neale Dawson, Director, Federation Law will chair the session.


2011 New South Wales State Legal Conference
Dates: Monday 28th, Tuesday 29th, Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st March 2011
Venue: SMC Conference Centre, Cnr Goulburn & Castlereagh Streets, Sydney

David Ford chaired a session on Legal Issues in Schools on Tuesday 29th March 2011 (Session 22). The keynote presentation was given by Alex Kohn. He addressed the implications of legal action against schools, teachers and all those connected with the education system.

Mark De Carvalho spoke on: "Educational/Academic Negligence - What does it involve? What is needed for a successful suit in such an action?"

Des Kennedy spoke on the legal obligation of schools to prevent harm to their students and ways and means for schools to prevent such harm.

Robert Sutherland presented a paper: "Sexual Abuse Claims against Teachers: Tendency or Coincidence?"

The session concluded with an open forum chaired by David Ford.


ANZELA Twilight Seminar & AGM
Date: Tuesday, 8th March 2011 at 4.45 (AGM) 5.00 - 6.00 pm (Seminar)
Venue: The Auditorium, Bishop Barry Centre, St Andrew’s Cathedral School,
Ground Floor, 51 Druitt Street, Sydney

With Special Guest Speaker: Megan Mitchell - Commissioner for Children and Young People

Attendees heard directly from the Commissioner for Children and Young People what the future holds for the Commission in relation to schools and teachers.

2010 ANZELA Conference
Dates:  Wednesday 29 September - Friday 1st October
Venue:  NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre, 37 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills

This conference was a great opportunity for teachers, school principals and others who have an interest in education law to connect with each other and gain valuable insight into current education law issues.

David Ford, together with Andrew Knott and Professor Sally Kit, hosted a symposium on cyberbullying. The question “Is the law part of the solution to the problem of cyber bullying occurring in schooling contexts?” was discussed on Friday 1st October in the afternoon. This interactive session sparked some interesting discussions. The symposium was chaired by Professor Patrick Parkinson of the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney. Patrick is a specialist in family law and child protection and has authored several books in this and related areas.


Australian Charity Law Association Annual Conference
Dates:  Friday 10th - Saturday 11th September 2010
Venue:  Novotel Brighton Beach, Sydney

This Conference was a great opportunity for anyone with an interest in charity law to network and learn about the latest legal issues faced by charities.

David Ford presented on the topic of "Tax issues of Schools, School Building funds and Public Ancillary funds - scholarship funds".


Legalwise School Law 2010
Date: 4 June 2010
Venue: Hilton Sydney, 488 George Street, Sydney

David Ford presented a paper on the topic of Managing the Risks in Off-Campus Activities. His talk covered issues such as:

The duty of care; a non-delegable duty;
The standard of care, foreseeability and probability;
Practical guidelines and principles and the risk management process;
Can the risks be managed? 

Click here to view David Ford's seminar paper "Managing the Risks in Off-Campus Activities".


Date: 26 May 2010 at 3pm

David Ford presented a workshop on current tax implications that are relevant to school and university fundraisers, particularly relating to capital works, scholarships and bursaries. Main issues discussed were:

Maintaining your DGR funds
Building, Library and Scholarship funds
What is a gift?
Undue influence and gifts
Tax effective structures for donors

UNSW School Law Alert 2010
Date: 20 May 2010 at 8.30am - 1.00pm
Venue: Grace Hotel, 77 York Street, Sydney

David Ford presented on the topic of "Parents in Education", covering such issues as:

What if they mislead the school?
Do they have a duty of care to their children?
Can they take discipline of other children into their own hands?
Are they free to sound off about teachers?
Can they come and go as they please? 

Click here to view David Ford's seminar paper "Parents in Education".


National Centre Against Bullying Conference 2010
Navigating the Maze:  Cybersafety and wellbeing solutions for schools
Venue:  Hilton on the Park, Melbourne
Date:  8-10 April 2010

David Ford, Sally Kift and Andrew Knott presented a workshop on Cyberbullying. 

Targets of face-to-face bullying have increasingly turned to the law for redress, and it is likely that targets of cyberbullying will seek to do the same.  Generally, the law struggles to keep apace with advances in technology and cyberbullying is no diffferent.  This presentation explored the application of legal responses to cyberbullying in schools and examined how effective the law was likely to be for prevention and intervention, in its criminal, civil, and employment aspects.  It also looked at the reasonable steps a school should take to minimise the risks of students and teachers being bullied in cyberspace.  

Ways Youth Services
Youth Forum 2010 - "Cybersafety and Bullying"
Venue: WAYS at Bondi, 63a Wairoa Avenue, Bondi Beach
Date: 25th March, 2010 between 10am-11am

David Ford presented an information session on Cybersafety and Bullying. The forum was an interactive and fun exploration of the topic so that the knowledge gained was able to be applied by students in their day to day lives.


Association of School Business Administrators Conference 2009
5-9 October 2009
Venue: National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia

David Ford presented the topic “Handling Future Legal & Risk Management Directions”.

ANZELA Twilight Seminar
Tuesday, 24th November 2009, 4.45-6.00pm
Venue: Sydney Grammar School

Dr Marilyn Campbell, Associate Professor of the School of Learning and Professional Studies (QLD University of Technology) presented a talk on Cyber Bullying in Schools.

ANZELA 18th Annual Conference
(Australia & New Zealand Education Law Association)
30 September - 2 October 2009
Venue: Victoria University Conference Centre, Melbourne, Victoria

Garry Pritchard and David Ford both spoke at this conference. Garry's presentation was on the topic “Business Continuity Management for Schools” and David presented on the topic “Managing the Risks in Off-Campus Activities”.

 “The theme (of the conference) focussed on the nature and types of risk involved in education generally and in particular in schools, tertiary institutions and policy. New areas such as sport, construction, employment law and ICT were included to reflect the ever changing challenges facing educators and administrators in this context.”

School Law Update 2009
Date: 25 June 2009
Venue: Grace Hotel, 77 York Street, Sydney

David Ford was one of the presenters at this School Law seminar. His topic was the Enrolment Contract and he covered:

  • Misleading & deceptive conduct;
  • Contract with whom?;
  • The application form;
  • Steps before making an offer;
  • Disability discrimination issues;
  • Terms of enrolment contract dealing with “helicopter parents” confiscation/searching student possessions, use of images;
  • Interest on unpaid fees;
  • Privacy issues;
  • Family law issues.

Other seminar topics were:

  • Navigating the Intellectual Property minefield;
  • Effect of Wood Commission on Privacy and Employment;
  • Changes to the Child Protection regime following Wood Commission;
  • Bullying in schools - the limits of liability.


NSW Ombudsman Symposium 2009
Dates: 25-26 May 2009
Venue: Mercure Hotel, 818-820 George Street, Sydney?

David Ford was one of the presenters at the NSW Ombudsman Symposium in May 2009. David’s topic was Practical Issues for Investigators. He dealt with several issues that often arise in the course of investigations of allegations of reportable conduct against employees in schools. These include:

  • The extent to which the formal rules of evidence should be applied - it is easy to say they do not apply but does this mean they have no application at all?
  • The degree to which the investigator must be satisfied before making a finding of sustained or false - what does the burden of proof really mean?
  • How to deal with allegations of incidents which are said to have happened many, many years ago? Are the recollections of witnesses reliable? Are there recovered memories? Are there sincerely held but false memories? Can such allegations ever be sustained?
  • Whether and how to take into account prior allegations or findings of misconduct - are they relevant to the investigation or simply prejudicial to the person against whom the allegation has been made?
  • How to distinguish negligence from neglect - when is an allegation of neglect reportable conduct?
  • How exhaustive must an investigation be? Should the investigator follow up every lead? Is it appropriate to ask about the cost benefit when investigating allegations of reportable conduct? 


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