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Bernard Collaery
— Principal Partner

For over 40 years Bernard Collaery has successfully fought for clients in internationally and nationally prominent catastrophe law cases involving multimillion dollar medical malpractice lawsuits focusing on hypoxic birth and other medical misfortunes. These lawsuits reflect catastrophes almost as compelling as other large scale personal injury and dependency claims such as claims on behalf of the defendants of family members killed in the 1997 Thredbo landslide, the 1997 Royal Canberra Hospital implosion tragedy, the 1999 Glenbrook Rail accident in the Blue Mountains, the fire aboard HMAS Westralia in 1998, the 1998 loss of an RAAF F111 in South China Sea, the 2005 loss of an RAF Special Forces Hercules and eleven crew in Iraq and the loss of the Karlissa T on the Narooma Bar in 2003. Many of the large scale personal injury law suits have followed major inquests or inquiries at which Bernard Collaery has appeared as Counsel.

Bernard Collaery has also conducted, as Counsel, many criminal hearings in the Magistrates Court and many significant major crime trials as Counsel for the Accused in the Supreme Court. Bernard Collaery’s practice abroad has included assisting a witness in the inquest into the death of H.R.H. Diana, Princess of Wales, and the prominent and long-running inquest into the deaths aboard RAF Hercules XV 179 on 30 January 2005 in Iraq.

Throughout his career as attorney, advocate and politician (including ACT Attorney General), Bernard has been a fearless advocate for human rights on many fronts.

In the mid 1980s, Bernard Collaery was the founder of the Immigration Reform Group. In 1981–1982, Bernard Collaery conducted a review of the Australian Determination of Refugee Status for the Federal Government. In 1982–83, Bernard Collaery travelled on several occasions to Thursday Island, after which he represented West Papuan refugees in the Federal Court of Australia. He was an early refugee advocate in relation to Vietnamese boat people.

Bernard Collaery advised the East Timor Resistance for more than thirty years. He spent considerable time in East Timor working with Resistance leaders and providing advice on international law and other matters during the United Nations Administration 1999–2002 and thereafter. At the International Court, he worked with a team led by Professor Sir Elihu Lauterpacht CBE QC DDL and Professor Vaughan Lowe QC on matters relating to the maritime sea boundary dispute with Australia. For some years, Bernard Collaery was involved with the St James Ethics Centre’s regional ethics initiatives in North and South East Asia.

During his time as Attorney-General of the Australian Capital Territory, Bernard Collaery established an independent law reform process and under his direction, the present Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT) was drafted from start to finish, though introduced by successor government. Likewise, significant changes to criminal laws including Australia’s first laws criminalising the mere possession of child pornography and the legalisation of prostitution, fundamental reforms to will-making laws and a variety of initiatives that categorise the first Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory following self-government.

Currently Bernard Collaery is Patron and Honorary Solicitor of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, and Honorary Solicitor of the Australian Bravery Association. He was the co-founder and Board Member of Job Solve, an innovative employment service for the brain injured. For many years, he was Honorary Solicitor for the National Brain Injury Foundation.

Most recently, Bernard won the Australian Lawyers Alliance 2018 Civil Justice Award recognising his work fighting for justice.


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Jolan Draaisma
— Special Counsel

Jolan leads our Sydney office with over 13 years’ continuous experience acting for clients in litigation matters. Her clients include patients, hospitals, GP clinics and health professionals in clinical negligence claims, criminal actions, inquests and professional disciplinary proceedings.

Jolan gained a solid foundation civil litigation with Collaery Lawyers, before specialising in high value medical negligence cases. Jolan’s achievements at Collaery Lawyers include achieving multimillion dollar awards in two cerebral palsy cases and appearing as Counsel in the High Court of Australia in the Canberra bushfire cases.

In 2009 Jolan was recruited by the USA’s largest private hospital company to work as in-house Counsel at its London office. In this role she was the lead adviser for all litigation matters involving the entire company and its entities, including GP clinics, private hospitals, outpatient clinics and partnerships with NHS foundation trusts.


Breadth of health care related matters that Jolan has advised on include:

  • Anti-corruption and money laundering compliance.

  • Clinical trials.

  • Complaints management.

  • Coroner Inquests and fatal accident claims.

  • Cosmetic and general surgery claims.

  • Data protection and privacy compliance.

  • Hospital Acquired Infection claims.

  • Human fertilisation, embryology and surrogacy.

  • Human tissue management, including organ retention and tissue testing.

  • Medical devices and equipment claims.

  • Obstetric claims, including cerebral palsy and wrongful birth claims.

  • Orthopaedic claims.

  • Professional disciplinary proceedings.

  • Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

  • Surgical and corporate policies and procedures.

  • Treatment of patients without mental capacity.

  • Withdrawal of life saving treatment.


Civil claims and inquests that Jolan has acted in:

  • Infant meningitis cases (claim values $4 million and £9 million).

  • Paediatric hypoxic birth cases (claim values $6 million and £7 million).

  • IVF wrongful birth claim (claim value £6 million).

  • MRSA infection cases (claim value £9 million and £12 million).

  • Inquest into the death of nurse following royal hospital hoax call by an Australian radio station.

Jolan returned to Collaery Lawyers in 2014 to join its international law team where she acted for Timor-Leste in the Arbitration Between Timor-Leste and Australia Under the Timor Sea Treaty, a case administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

In 2014 Jolan appeared as Counsel before the International Court of Justice at The Hague in Questions Relating to the Seizure and Detention of Certain Documents and Data (Timor-Leste v. Australia) Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures, an application made by Timor-Leste for the return of legal documents seized by the Australian Secret Service.

Jolan now heads our Sydney office where she is a tenacious litigator who is committed to her clients.


Mark Davis
— Consultant Solicitor

Mark Davis was admitted to practice in Victoria in 1993. By the late 90s his interests in investigative journalism came to the fore and he embarked on a career as a foreign correspondent.

He is a multiple recipient of Australia’s most prestigious journalism prizes and has worked for Australia’s premiere international and investigative programmes – Four Corners and Foreign Correspondent for ABC TV and Dateline on SBS TV. A range of international broadcasters screened his reports.

He is also a founding Director of Blueprint for Free Speech, a group that advocates and advises globally on freedom of speech and whistleblowing legislative reform.

In 2015, Davis joined the ACT Law Society and began working for Collaery Lawyers. His primary legal interests lie in international criminal and civil matters.


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Matilda Wall
— Law Clerk

Matilda joined the Collaery Lawyers team as Law Clerk in 2017. She primarily assists the Principal with legal and administrative tasks. At Collaery Lawyers she has worked on cases ranging from criminal and dispute resolution matters to inquests.

Originally from Sydney, Matilda moved to Canberra in 2015 to pursue a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) / Bachelor of Arts (History) double-degree at the Australian National University. She is on track to complete her studies in 2019.

Matilda is the first point-of-call at Collaery Lawyers. If you have any queries or wish to book an appointment, contact her on (02) 6239 6033.