contract law

Maurice Blackburn’s experienced employment lawyers can provide you with expert advice in all areas of employment contract law, and can also provide strategic advice about negotiating your next contract of employment. Whether you engage our expert legal assistance during the formation and drafting of the contract, during a period of employment, or in the event of a breach of contract, at Maurice Blackburn we are ideally positioned to secure your employment contract rights.

Employment contracts may be created orally, in writing, or be partly oral and partly written.  Employment contracts are not limited to a single "contract" document, they can also include terms and conditions found in other documents, including policies, agreements, and job descriptions.  Maurice Blackburn are the experts in executive employment and can advise you on all aspects of employment contract law.  

Negotiating a new employment contract

It is vitally important for you to fully understand the terms and implications of your employment contract; that’s where Maurice Blackburn can help.

We are ideally placed to provide strategic legal advice and assistance when conducting due diligence and negotiating the terms of any new employment contracts.  

Our employment solicitors are particularly well-versed in breach of contract and restraint of trade matters and have successfully conducted some of the country’s most significant employment contract law cases.  

If you are negotiating the terms of a new employment contract, talk to us today about how we can help.

Breach of employment contract

Breach of employment contract occurs when the employer fails to adhere to the terms of an employment contract.  When this happens the employee may be entitled to sue for compensation for the damage suffered as a result of the breach.  In some cases a court injunction can be sought to prevent termination of employment that is a breach of the employment contract.  This is particularly relevant to senior executive positions.

If you are facing termination of employment or believe your employment contract may have been breached, Maurice Blackburn is your ideal choice for discreet, confidential legal action.  Our employment law division, headed by high-profile legal expert Josh Bornstein, is recognised nationally as Australia’s leading employment law practice and specialises in executive employment matters.  

Our attorneys recently represented a senior executive employee of a large retail group who had been employed for over ten years and was terminated with only one month's notice.  We were successful in negotiating six months’ pay in lieu of notice, with only minimal legal costs expended by our client and without needing to go to court.    

Contact us today to discuss your options.

Successful cases

Nikolich v Goldman Sachs

Nikolich v Goldman Sachs [2006] FCA 784 and [2007] FCAFC 120

Mr Nikolich was a financial advisor with Goldman Sachs who brought a claim for breach of contract in relation to his supervisor’s bullying and harassment, alleging that it breached the workplace bullying and harassment policy.

The Court found that the company policy, sent to the employee at the same time as the letter of appointment, formed part of the employment contract with Mr Nikolich.

In making its decision, the Court referred to a number of factors that indicate a company policy forms part of an employment contract including:

  • promissory language, such as “comply” and “abide”;
  • obligatory language, such as “duty” and “ensure”; and
  • a specific reference to obligations, rather than a general reference to obligations.

The Court also considered it highly relevant that the employee was required to sign the policy document to stipulate that he had read and understood the policy.

The Court awarded Mr Nikolich over half a million dollars in compensation.


Heugh v Central Petroleum Ltd

Heugh v Central Petroleum Ltd [No 5] [2014] WASC 311

Mr Heugh was the former chief executive of the ASX listed Central Petroleum Ltd.

The company’s board and Mr Heugh had disagreed on the performance capabilities of another employee to take on business building responsibilities. The board ultimately issued a resolution that the employee be allowed to undertake the responsibilities. Subsequently Mr Heugh directed the employee not to undertake the additional responsibilities and issued the employee with a written warning.

Mr Heugh’s employment contract contained a clause requiring him to be given written notice of any serious breach of contract and an opportunity to rectify the breach.

The board directed Mr Heugh to retract the employee’s written warning, apologise and follow the board’s previous resolution. Mr Heugh undertook these steps rectifying his initial non-compliance with the board’s previous resolution, however the board terminated his employment.

The Court awarded Mr Heugh nearly $1.6 million dollars in damages for breach of an express term of his employment contract.

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Your initial consultation with our Executive Employment Lawyers is on a fixed fee. If your case proceeds we operate on an hourly rate.

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