You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has been ordered to pay the majority of the legal costs incurred by the CFMEU in its successful Supreme Court challenge against the AFP raid of the union’s Canberra offices in August 2015.

Slater and Gordon represented the CFMEU in its court proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the police raid and subsequently in relation to the CFMEU’s legal costs.

What happened?

AFP officers attached to the Trade Union Royal Commission police taskforce raided the offices of the CFMEU ACT Branch on 25 August 2015.

That raid took place over more than 12 hours, which meant the AFP’s initial search warrant expired and they were required by law to seek a second search warrant during the raid.

After the raid

Shortly after the raid, Slater and Gordon successfully issued proceedings seeking an injunction against the AFP using the material seized.

The injunction was granted on 17 September 2015 and the case was later heard by Justice Richard Refshauge of the ACT Supreme Court over 3 days in October 2015. Both AFP officers and CFMEU officials gave evidence in the proceeding.

The law required that the AFP allow CFMEU officials to observe what the police were doing during the search. During the proceeding, the AFP argued that the CFMEU officials were only limited from observing the raid for a short period of time due to the deployment of AFP Bomb Technicians in the union office. The CCTV footage however showed the easily identifiable bomb technicians walking into the CFMEU office, carrying only a ladder, goggles, a mobile phone and McDonalds. The CFMEU strongly argued that there was no safety risk, no necessity for a bomb squad in a union office and that the AFP was in fact denying the CFMEU an opportunity to observe the raid.

What did the Supreme Court Justice rule?

Justice Refshauge ultimately agreed with the CFMEU’s argument that the AFP had failed to follow correct procedures when executing the search warrants. Justice Refshauge also ruled that the second warrant was invalid due to the AFP’s failure to disclose necessary information to the Magistrate issuing the second warrant after hours. For this reason Justice Refshauge ruled that the Magistrate issued the second warrant on a false basis.

Justice Refshauge ruled that the CFMEU had been sufficiently successful to justify an order that the AFP pay the CFMEU’s costs, although his Honour allowed the AFP to make further submissions to challenge that order.

The AFP and CFMEU both made submissions on the costs issue, and in February 2017 Justice Refshauge dismissed the AFP’s challenge and upheld the costs order. Slater and Gordon lawyers have been working to ensure that the CFMEU recovers from the AFP the full amount due under the costs order.

After the AFP’s challenge to the costs order was dismissed, Dean Hall, ACT secretary of the CFMEU, told Workplace Express that the police should be “policing for the community” rather than being used as a “political weapon”.

“I think it's a disgrace that the Liberal Government has politicised the police force like this,” Hall said.

At the time of Justice Refshauge’s first judgment, Dave Noonan, National Secretary of the CFMEU’s Construction and General Division, said: “What we see in this case is a clear politicisation of the Australian Federal Police. That such substantial resources were devoted to this raid smacks of overkill for purely political purposes”.

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

Employment Law
Starting a new job? What to look for in an employment contract

Starting a new job is an exciting time, whether it’s your first one or you’re moving on to greener pastures there’s a lot to consider – like how will you celebrate?! What will you wear on your first day? And what’s the commute going to be like? But before you start planning whether you’ll bike or train to work, you’ll need to review and sign your employment contract. This part can often feel daunting for new workers, but don’t worry – here’s a handy guide for what to look out for in an employment contract. This one might seem obvious, but it’s important – so worth mentioning first. It’s vital to ensure that the details contained in your employment contract...

Starting a new job contract review
Employment Law
Is “small scale” wage theft affecting you?

We’ve all heard the stories of large-scale wage theft, where millions of dollars are stolen from workers by paying employees well under award rates or failing to pay overtime. You may be a victim of wage theft if your employer has: However, did you know many Aussie workers are also victims of “small scale” wage theft? Most people aren’t even aware of what “small scale” wage theft is or how it can add up. Small scale wage theft occurs when workers are taken advantage of in small ways on a regular basis. Each instance may only be small – such as being required to work through breaks or being required to clock on after your shift begins or log off before your work is really...

Workers on break
Employment Law
Injured migrant food delivery workers can’t afford medical costs or time off to recover if inju …

Former Uber Eats rider Bruna Correa had only been in Australia for three months when she was car-doored by a driver getting out of a parked vehicle, while delivering food in Sydney last year. She required two surgeries, four months off work and three months’ worth of physiotherapy. When the driver’s door flung open, she fell off her bike and recalls seeing her arm hit the ground, breaking her wrist before the ambulance came. After realising she would no longer receive income to support herself, she sought legal support to lodge a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) claim. This meant she was supported by weekly payments to cover her lost income through her CTP claim which have now come to an...

Bruna prior to accident cropped

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.