The Board of the Environmental Defenders Office has announced the appointment of a team of external legal experts to recommend process reforms to enhance provision of EDO’s legal services.  

The external review follows the Federal Court decision in the matter of Munkara v Santos NA Barossa Pty Ltd (No 3) [2024] FCA 9 on 15 January 2024. We take this decision seriously, as we would any decision that includes judicial comment about our lawyers.  

The review is a proactive step by the EDO Board to ensure continuous improvement and strengthening of EDO’s practice and service delivery. In order to find ways to strengthen our legal practice, the review will examine and make recommendations on best practice when working with First Nations clients and communities, including in Court processes involving cultural heritage. 

Eminent Senior Counsel, Barrister Dr Tony McAvoy SC has been engaged to conduct the review. Dr McAvoy will be supported by law firms Chalk & Behrendt and Gilbert + Tobin.  

Members of the review team appointed by the Board are acknowledged leaders in this field of legal practice. The review team is engaged to provide EDO’s Board and management with recommendations after an examination of EDO’s current processes. 

Acknowledging the Board’s desire to proceed expeditiously, the Board has asked the reviewers to advise it on appropriate timeframes to complete the review and report. 

EDO has had an exemplary record over the past 40 years in jurisdictions across Australia. 

Without EDO, many of our clients would not have access to justice and would see the places or values they are intent on protecting harmed, in some cases beyond repair. 

In relation to the proceeding, this matter is still before the Court and it is not appropriate to comment on the decision, nor will the review traverse the particular circumstances of that case or the findings of the Court. 

13 March 2024