Mock Trial /

Workers in the witness box – a mock trial presented by Sparke Helmore Lawyers

All parties involved in the events relating to a safety incident may have actual or potential liability—employees cannot assume they are immune from prosecution and that the organisation will take the fall.

Back by popular demand, Sparke Helmore’s interactive court simulation will take a fresh looking at the prosecution of individuals, including officers and employees. Our fictional incident is based on a fall from a height, involving a foreseeable element to the breach of safety.

This mock trial will provide insight into the prosecution process and what happens when an inspector, supervisor and senior manager are called as witnesses—and when the latter two are being prosecuted for breaching their work health and safety (WHS) duties.

The session will encourage you to reconsider how a judge might perceive your day-to-day actions relating to a WHS breach. It will provide you with an understanding of:

  • how the day-to-day actions or omissions of workers and officers can amount to a breach of Work Health and Safety legislation
  • the types of questions witnesses may be asked in the courtroom, and

the considerations a judge will make in reaching a decision.

Meet the team

Bill Kritharas – Partner

Bill Kritharas is an experienced work health and safety lawyer who takes a commercial and practical approach to advising clients, managing incidents and resolving legal problems. Through his involvement in many different organisations, Bill has developed the skills that enable him to quickly understand a client’s operating environment and requirements, so that he implements commercial solutions that add value to his clients.

Bill advises on WHS systems, policies and procedures, and provides training on WHS obligations and compliance. Bill also assists employers to respond to SafeWork NSW investigations and prosecutions, and assists with the implementation of incident corrective actions. He has acted in many high- profile workplace incidents and in complex litigation.

Carlie Holt – Partner

Carlie is often the first point of contact for her clients where their colleagues have been seriously injured or even killed — these are times when people are at their most vulnerable. She is usually onsite within hours of an incident occurring. Her focus is on minimising the stress for all involved, then forensically investigating the circumstance/s to prepare a thorough defence or alternative.

She regularly appears for clients in Coronial Inquests and has successfully defended WHS prosecutions in the Industrial Court and most recently, the District Court of NSW for companies, and has successfully had charges withdrawn against several directors in separate proceedings.

Carlie also provides tailored legal briefings to all levels within an organisation from the board and executive level to operational personnel regarding their WHS responsibilities.

Carlie’s clients praise her accessibilit and pragmatic approach, and for always focusing on achieving the best result possible.

Rossana Parmegiani – Special Counsel

Rossana Parmegiani regularly represents and advises a cross-section of public and private sector clients on WHS compliance, incident investigations and SafeWork prosecutions.

Rossana was formerly the principal lawyer in the prosecutions branch of WorkCover NSW (as it was then), and understands the processes involved and the best way to deal with various stages of SafeWork investigations.

The deep knowledge gained both in her former role and subsequent to that helps her guide clients facing prosecution to make appropriate decisions.

Rossana also advises officers and managers in the public and private sector from investigation stage to prosecution stage and uses her skills as a litigator to help individuals required to give evidence in public and private inquiries before the ICAC.

Susan Withycombe-Taperell  Senior Associate

Susan Withycombe-Taperell is a work health and safety lawyer who has extensive experience advising clients on compliance and regulatory matters relating to WHS and heavy vehicle road transport. Susan regularly assists clients across a range of industries, including energy, construction, manufacturing, retail, transport and agriculture, in the management of workplace incidents, potential liability, WHS management systems, policies and compliance.

Susan provides clear, concise and practical advice that helps clients easily understand the complexity of their obligations and potential liability under the specific legislation, while identifying practical and workable solutions. She has developed a broad skill set arising from her experience within a number of court jurisdictions.