Lauren Doktor joins QLS Early Career Lawyers Committee

April 24th, 2018

Congratulations to Lauren Doktor on becoming a member of the QLS Early Career Lawyers Committee



Natural Disaster Assistance Loans

April 17th, 2018

Following the disaster of last month’s flooding, the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority have announced two types of low interest loans to assist small businesses and primary producers in Far North Queensland.

The Natural Disaster Assistance loans are available to eligible businesses and primary producers who were affected by the flood event of 6 – 10 March in North Queensland. Small businesses are also able to apply if they were affected by flooding associated with Severe Tropical Cyclone Nora in the period 24 – 29 March.

Eligibility for these loans is assessed on a case by case basis. Local regional area manager Sam Spina is available to aid in eligibility and application enquiries. More information can be obtained from the government’s website at or by phoning 1800 623 946 and booking an appointment with Sam.

This initiative is a joint Queensland and Commonwealth assistance program. Further enquiries should be directed to the website or phone number above.


National Advance Care Planning Week – Plan for tomorrow, live for today

April 16th, 2018

Australia’s first ever Advance Care Planning week begins today, to raise awareness and encourage Australians, young and old, to engage in conversation about their preferred health care, if they were too sick to speak for themselves.  Advance care planning ensures that your voice is heard if medical decisions have to be made for you.

Figures show that less than 15% of Australians have an advance care plan in place.  In Queensland, an advance health directive is a document where you can record your wishes and directions regarding your future health care for various medical conditions, in the event you were incapable of making those decisions for yourself.  Having an advance health directive in place reduces stress for your loved ones as it allows your family, friends and doctors to understand what is important to you and what is an acceptable outcome for your life.

The first step to an advance care plan is talking to your friends and family about your wishes.  We encourage you to join in the conversation.

For more information about Advance Care Planning week visit or contact our Wills and Estates Solicitor, Bianca Stafford on 07 4036 9700.


5 things you need to know when buying your first home

March 22nd, 2018

You’ve been saving for ages, you have found “the one” and you want to make an offer.  There is so much to think about when choosing to buy your first home – deciding if you want build, buying a renovator’s delight ,  co-ordinating the big move, getting funds in order and everything seems to happen so fast.

Here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for the challenge of buying your first home:

1.  The dollars

Most first home buyers have been saving for a long time for their first home.  It can be easy to get swept away with the price when you have your heart set on a particular property.  Thankfully, there are some great incentives for first home buyers that can save you money, but there are also some incidental costs that you may not expect.

It is not just the purchase price you need to factor in when buying your first home.  Below are some other costs to consider:

  • transfer duty (stamp duty): this tax has been around for a while so it may not be much of a surprise to have to pay it, but it can be a fair chunk of cash, so make sure you don’t forget about it and plan ahead.  Thankfully,  there is a concession for most first home buyers which is a great help, and a majority of first home buyers will not have to pay duty on their purchase if the price is $550,000.00 or less;
  • loan fees, solicitor fees, registration fees and insurance: all these costs probably do not come as much of a shock but it does not take much for them to add up.  A lot of first time buyers are not aware that pursuant to the terms of most contracts, they need to get insurance for the property on the next business day following the contract being signed.  If your savings have been cleaned out by paying the deposit you may struggle with the other costs.  The Queensland Government also charges a fee for registration of a transfer of property and these costs generally come out of your loan;
  • first home owner’s grant: the good news is that the first home buyer’s concession is still available in Queensland for new builds.  Subject to certain eligibility criteria, until 30 June 2018 you can receive $20,000.00 towards your purchase of a brand new home  (this is set to go back down to $15,000.00 shortly); and
  • outgoings and adjustments: at settlement, outgoings such as rates, water usage and body corporate levies will be adjusted on the final amount you pay.  Depending on the particular property and when you settle, this amount may be a little or a lot.

2.  What is in the contract

Putting in an offer on a place is usually in the form of a contract, so it is very important to have your solicitor look over a contract before you sign on the dotted line.  Once the contract is fully signed, it is often too late to make any changes unless the other party agrees.  Make sure you have a good think about what it is you want out of the property.  If you are planning major renovations do you need to know if the council is going to approve the changes you have in mind?  If you are building, are there any restrictions on what type or style of home you want to build that will not fit in with your plans?

3.  Searches matter

Searches are often underutilised by buyers in general.  They can seem like a big cost for a little return but the reality is that you might spend a couple of hundred dollars on searches that could save you thousands in the long run.

Having a building and pest inspection completed on the property (and including this as a condition in the contract) is a must if you are buying an existing house.  You do not want to find out about any nasty surprises after settlement.

4.  Do your homework

Make sure you do your research.  Knowing the area, your long term goals and the property values in the area are very important factors before you jump in and purchase your new home.  There are many things that are not covered by the contract, and which you should check out before you sign.  For example: what are the neighbours like? Does the property flood?  Is it affected by road or aircraft noise?  If you are buying a unit or townhouse, do you understand how community titles schemes work, and are you ready for community living?

5.  Be prepared

Time stands still for no one!  In Queensland, time is of the essence in contracts to purchase land.  This means that you may lose your contract, and possibly your hard earned deposit, if you are late with a condition or being ready for settlement.  The best way to avoid problems is to be prepared ahead of time, get on top of things early and engage a good solicitor to help you through the process.  Before or as soon as you have a contract in place, you should be speaking to a financier about a loan (having a pre-approval in place is often a good thing to do, but just be aware that banks may not give the final okay until they have completed a valuation on a property, which can take time).  Also, you should arrange building and pest inspections as soon as possible following execution of the contract.  Do not leave things to the last minute!

Buying your first home is a big commitment and is bound to be a little stressful, but it is all worth it in the end to have a place to call your home.  Using Miller Harris Lawyers for your conveyancing can help take a lot of the stress out of the process, and save you a lot of time.

For more information, contact Lauren Doktor on 4036 9700.


Welcome Amalie Grima

December 12th, 2017

Welcome to Amalie Grima, who has joined us as an Associate in our Family Law department and will be working closely with Michael Keogh.

Amalie recently returned home to Far North Queensland.


Doyles List

December 7th, 2017

Miller Harris Lawyers is proud of our family law team, who were again voted by their clients and colleagues into the prestigious Doyles List of Leading North Queensland Family & Divorce Law Firms, recognising their expertise and experience as family lawyers.

We are also pleased to congratulate Special Counsel, Michael Keogh and Senior Associate, Julie Hodge, who were also, once again, included as Leading Lawyers in the Doyle’s list of the Leading Family and Divorce Lawyers in North Queensland.

Check out the 2018 Doyles Lists here.

Well done Michael and Julie!

Michael Keogh, Special Counsel Julie Hodge, Senior Associate


National recognition of domestic violence protection orders

December 7th, 2017

All states and territories have now passed legislation to facilitate the national recognition of domestic violence protection orders. 

These changes affect persons who have a current protection order in place and future applications for protection orders.  Summarised below are the things you need to know:

  1. Any domestic violence protection order made by a state or territory court on or after 25 November 2017 will be automatically recognised in all other states and territories in Australia.
  2. Those in our community who have a current protection order that was made before 25 November 2017 can register their protection order and obtain a declaration that it is nationally recognised and enforceable.
  3. Nationally recognised protection orders can varied by application in any state or territory court.

These reforms address some of the previous gaps within the system.  Prior to these changes, a named person in a protection order would need to make an application in each state or territory which they required protection in as an order was only enforceable in the state or territory in which it was issued.

If you are not sure what this means for you, or have any questions about your current situation, please contact our friendly Family Law team.



What does the ‘Yes’ vote mean for family law?

November 16th, 2017

Yesterday marked a significant milestone in Australian history, with the result of the Marriage Law Survey being released.  Once same-sex couples are legally able to marry there will be minor ripple effects in family law practice.

It will make property proceedings for married same‑sex couples who are separating more simplified as they will no longer have to establish that they satisfy the criteria of being in a de facto relationship.  It will also allow same‑sex couples who were married in another country to apply for a divorce in Australia once they can establish that they have been separated for the threshold time limit of 12 months.  Previously it was not possible for same‑sex couples married in another country to be granted a divorce order in Australia which created many problems.



Attorney-General commissions a comprehensive review of the Australian Family Law system

November 14th, 2017

Attorney-General the Honourable George Brandis QC recently commissioned the Australian Law Reform Commission to comprehensively review the Australian Family Law system

Professor Helen Rhoades has been appointed to lead this comprehensive review, which will focus on various issues faced by separated families including long delays in the court system and the financial burden of family law disputes, as well as how best to deal with the families of today and the issues they face; noting the Family Law Act 1975 was brought in over 40 years ago.

The review process will involve public consultation as well as consultation with family law experts.

The report will be released in 2019 and is very much welcomed by the family law legal profession.

For more information, visit the Attorney General’s website:

For more information about this issue and all family law matters, please contact our Senior Associate, Julie Hodge on 4036 9700, or visit our website.

Julie Hodge
Senior Associate
Miller Harris Lawyers

Telephone:  07 4036 9700

Voted into 2016 and 2017 Doyles list of leading Family and Divorce Lawyers


Important deadline for those operating in the tourism industry

November 10th, 2017

The Best of Queensland Experiences program was launched by the State’s Regional Tourism Organisations and Queensland Tourism Industry Council to identify the best experiences available within Queensland for visitors.  Those who are accepted into the program may in the future feature in promotional activity.  It is also expected that the program will feature throughout the Commonwealth Games.

To be assessed for the program, you must ensure that your product listing and details are up to date on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse before 13 November 2017.

More information is available here.