Nevett Ford Lawyers – Andrew Lumb

By on October 23, 2013

CMPA Honorary Voting Member, Andrew Lumb reflects on the development of his career and his involvement in the quarry industry.

I was born and bred in Melbourne, and after finishing my schooling at Wesley College (after Robin Hocking) went to Melbourne University where I studied law and arts. In those days Melbourne University was the only Victorian university, a far cry from the current situation, where there seems to be an institution issuing degrees practically on every street corner.

The Dean of Melbourne Law School was Zelman Cowan, who as a lecturer, teacher and legal intellectual was a grant, which coming from me is a magnanimous and objective assessment, given that at one stage he threatened to have me sacked from the Law School for appearing in the law student magazine De Minimis, of which I was the editor at the time.

Having completed law and arts degrees, and having had a thoroughly good time with a lot of mates, it was necessary to do articles in order to be admitted to practice as a lawyer, articles being a twelve month period of training with a law firm. I did my articles with Corr & Corr (now Corrs Chambers Westgarth) which was, and still is, one of the biggest firms, and was then located in the now reviled Argus Building. There were three articled clerks, consigned to a sort of enclosure at the end of the library, one of the other two being Bernie Teague, latterly of Bushfire Enquiry fame.

I ended up staying at Corr & Corr for eight years, doing mainly financing and property work and also more general commercial work, and I believe that my experience there has stood me in very good stead during my subsequent career. I still get together regularly with some other lawyers I worked with there.

My father had been in legal practice for many years in a small firm rejoicing in the name of Ford Aspinwall & De Gruchy, which had a history going back to 1890. My father was getting older and I decided to make the move from Corr & Corr. In the years that followed I had a crack at just about everything, and my experience certainly broadened. I was joined at Ford Aspinwall & De Gruchy by my brother, but with the coming of computer technology, we decided to merge the firm with a larger firm which eventually became known as Ford & Co. There my focus was mainly commercial, corporate and property and I was in the right place at the right time to participate in the evolution of one or two significant client businesses which I still do a significant amount of legal work for.

I also commenced doing work for the Victorian Farmers Federation, particularly the Grains Group and the Chicken Meat Group of that organisation. This has evolved into a major part of my legal practice. I later acted for the grain growers on the acquisition from the State Government of the Grain Elevators Board which handled grain receival, storage and movement in Victoria.

Along the way I had a bizarre year of secondment to the practice of a well known and extremely colourful (if that’s the word) tax practitioner, my task being to set up a unit trust structure for a hotel project in Cairns, which never got built. Not my fault I assure you.

In 1989 Ford & Co merged its practice with Nevett Coutts & Wilson, originally a Ballarat firm with a history going back to gold rush days, but also with an office in Melbourne for some years prior to our merger. The merged firm was known as Nevett Ford, but in recent times Melbourne and Ballarat offices have been split into separate practices, pursuing different paths and having different requirements.

My brother and I remain at Nevett Ford Melbourne with a number of practitioners, including directors and senior and junior lawyers, covering a range of legal specialities, including in addition to commercial, corporate and property, employment law, litigation, migration law and family law.

Now what you might ask has all this to do with the extractive area. The answer is not much, with my contact with this area only the above journey being sporadic.

My contact with the area in a focused way started with the beginnings of the CMPA. I had developed an interest in industry associations, to some extent through my involvement with the Victoria Farmers Association, but also with other organisations. I was interested in the structures of such organisations and also very much in their strategic and regulatory issues. I was asked to prepare the constitution for the Construction Materials Processors Association, and through Mark Wagner was introduced to Ron Kerr, a life changing event.

I am embarrassed to confess that I had some initial skepticism about the future of this embryonic organisation. It is common with the establishment of these sorts of organisations for a number of different people and different interests to be involved, leading very often to compromises rather than simplicity. An extreme example was an organisation I helped to establish early in my career, which surely would have strangled itself to death on its constitution.

Any initial reservations I had proved to be completely unfounded. I can say with complete honesty that I am amazed at the evolution of the CMPA and its development into a major force in the industry, performing extremely important functions in information provision, training and education, and providing a voice for its members with Government and with regulatory authorities. Each year now, when I attend the large, successful and very well organised annual dinner, I marvel at the rapid journey from the initial dinner in the Komatsu canteen, watching a film on buggered up shots.

It is a great credit to all the people who have contributed their leadership, time and effort to the Association. In my experience industry organisations of this sort lose sight of the fact that they are membership based organisations. So far as I have been able to determine the CMPA has been unwavering in its priority to provide services to its members.

I have regarded it as a great privilege to be part of this journey. I have been mentored and educated in the industry by Ron Kerr and I would be a very rich man if I had a dollar for every minute I have spent on the telephone with Ron over the last 12 years or so. I have to add that the time spent is not all his fault, I do my bit.

There are others, like Robin Hocking and Basil Natoli, some of whose knowledge and experience has rubbed off on me.

Many of the issues of the industry I have become involved with are similar to those I have had long involvement with in the broiler chicken industry, in particular buff er distances, planning permit issues and regulatory legislation. No one wants to live anywhere near a quarry or a broiler farm. These things are necessary but should be next door to someone else. The costs of obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals have become absurdly high, often lacking any proportion to what is proposed. I am also very interested in the strategic issues of diminishing availability of, and access to, resource, and the apparently unstoppable tidal wave of compliance requirements.

Apart from these issues I have had interest and involvement in leasing and contractual matters, in particular the development of a generic lease for the assistance of members. It is the case that each deal is different and structures of leasing arrangements vary, but a base document has provided to be useful in a number of transactions with which I have had involvement. In addition, in view of the regulatory and liability perils of transport contracts, we have attempted to produce contracts which strike an optimum balance between practical usability, compliance and member requirements.

However when it is all boiled down the most important thing for me about the extractive area has been the relationships and the people involved.

For further information contact Andrew Lumb at Nevett Ford Melbourne Pty Ltd on 03 9614 7111

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