Challenges to
corporate and
government power


We believe legal action that supports social justice contributes to a better society

Governments are elected by their constituents, but they don’t always respect their rights. Governments may overreach their powers, or use existing powers in ways they weren’t intended for.

Likewise, the rise of the modern corporation has brought a concentration of economic power which often competes with governments. Corporations may make efforts to avoid regulation, and at times violate the rights of citizens and consumers.

Our Social justice practice challenges the excesses of government and business, and champions the rights of those who are disadvantaged.

We’ve challenged Federal and State Governments to protect the rights of people in their care. We defended the rights of imprisoned children from errors in their bail conditions made by the New South Wales Government, and settled a class action against the Federal Government after people with disabilities were assaulted whilst under state care.

We also won a case against an international genetics corporation who tried to patent a gene that can cause breast cancer, ensuring that women have access to cost-effective breast cancer treatment.

While Governments and corporations continue to overreach their powers, we will continue to act, ensuring that Australian workers and citizens are protected.

Whether it’s by supporting Union action, launching a class action, or taking a case all the way to the High Court, Maurice Blackburn will support the notion of justice and reflect community values.

Our work

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Breast cancer gene patenting: Attempted commercialisation of human genetic material 

In an Australian first Yvonne D’Arcy, a Brisbane woman with cancer represented by Maurice Blackburn, won a ‘David and Goliath’ battle against a United States based molecular diagnostic company. Myriad Genetics had attempted to patent the BRCA1 gene which, if present, dramatically increases a woman's chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

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Mistreatment of detainees in youth detention

On 25 July 2016, ABC’s Four Corners aired a report entitled ‘Australia’s Shame’ which exposed the mistreatment of detainees in youth detention in the Northern Territory.  In response to the Four Corners report and public outrage, the Commonwealth Government announced the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

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The wrongful detention of Dr Mohamed Haneef

Dr Mohamed Haneef was arrested in 2007 and charged with a terrorism-related offence, which resulted in his Australian visa being cancelled.  After being held in detention for nearly a month, Dr Haneef was released, the charge was withdrawn and the decision to cancel his visa was subsequently overruled by the Federal Court.  In all, the investigation and detention of Dr Haneef cost taxpayers over $7.5 million.

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Who advocates for children in the justice system?

On 8 June 2011, Maurice Blackburn together with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre launched a class action in the Supreme Court of New South Wales seeking compensation for children and young people who have been wrongfully arrested and detained by NSW police for breach of bail.


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Grand Western Lodge class action

Maurice Blackburn acted in a class action in the Federal Court of Australia seeking compensation for people with disabilities who were allegedly assaulted, falsely imprisoned or suffered financial losses while they were residents of Grand Western Lodge.

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The Tecoma 8 protest ban

When global fast-food giant McDonalds decided to build a new 24-hour store in Tecoma, a small town in the foothills of the Dandenong ranges in Victoria, the local community organised to protest against it.

Little did they know that McDonalds would attempt an interim injunction in the Supreme Court in an attempt to quell the protests.


Jennifer Kanis

Principal Lawyer, Melbourne

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