MALLESONS STEPHEN Jaques and the Australian Government Solicitor’s office have acted on a joint venture between CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. Mallesons says the firm worked hard to get it right, but the deal also gave the lawyers an opportunity to contribute to something positive.
The unincorporated joint venture brings together the research and intellectual capabilities of each organisation to do research in areas including climate change prediction and impacts.
The Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, the result of the venture between the two organisations, will provide critically important research in areas of weather and climate change in Australia.
Mallesons acted for CSIRO on the deal, lead by James Fahey and supported by Loretta O’Hanlon. CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology have between them quite significant research capabilities in terms of earth system science and in particular climate change, said Fahey. “Mallesons’ role was to act for CSIRO in putting together the documentation to give effect to that. We did the negotiations and the drafting of the documents with CSIRO internal lawyers to actually pull it altogether.”
The centre’s foundation director, Chris Mitchell, said Australia has been at the forefront of climate and weather research and the evolving science of earth systems for many years. “The new joint approach provides a strong focus for climate research that will be absolutely critical for the future of Australia and the world,” he said.
Mallesons partner Fahey told Lawyers Weekly it was “a wonderful deal” to be on because of the interesting legal issues involved in finding the right structure for the two organisations to be able to work together.
“So there was a bit of legal thinking working out how you mould what I call a classic unincorporated joint venture,” he said.
He highlighted differences in culture, difference in their organisation structures and the work lawyers did to meld those together, which they did successfully, he said.
“We had to work out structures to allow the parties to both jointly and independently use intellectual property that comes out of the joint research activities.”
But Fahey also pointed to the positive contribution to a bigger cause that lawyers can make on deals such as this one. “Like all these things you’ve got sit down and work hard and get it all right, but at the end of it you’re actually making a contribution to something pretty positive which is what we were all excited about anyway,” he said.