Awards & Recognitions

Contributions to the Legal Profession

Terry Stern was awarded an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) for his remarkable contributions to the legal profession in NSW – Queen’s Birthday 2022 Honours List

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Over 50 years of service to the law

In 2018, Terry celebrated 50 years since he was admitted to practice law in NSW. The Terry’s family and colleagues gathered to celebrate his record of achievement. It was an opportunity to reflect on Terry’s outstanding career as a sole practitioner.

​Terry’s record of conduct in a variety of cases and the results, illustrates that he conducts litigation with passion, intellect, determination, and in the best interests of the client. We have not referred to the cases where Terry secured outcomes resulting in damages over many millions of dollars for clients in personal injury claims and, in particular, medical negligence claims. The results have been leading-edge, but because they were not class actions and settled at mediation or informal settlement conferences under terms of confidentiality, they have not become publicly known.

​For obvious reasons, we refer only to reported decisions in this selection of Terry’s notable cases.

​Barton v The Queen (1980)

​Terry represented Alexander Barton in the defence of allegations of corporate fraud and, in particular, the alleged making of misleading and deceptive statements in a prospectus.

​The then Attorney-General, Frank Walker QC, issued ex officio indictments, and these were challenged by Alexander Barton, his son Thomas and Laurence Gruzman QC.

​The appeal from a decision of the Supreme Court of New South Wales was based on the proposition that the ex officio indictment had been issued for improper and ulterior purposes. Of the three appeals, two were successful and had an important impact on the outcome of the proceedings against the Bartons.

​This case was an important decision in the development of legal principles and has been cited in many other cases.

​Prologue: Alex Barton was never convicted of any offence, notwithstanding the State of New South Wales spending millions of dollars in the diverse prosecutions and enlisting the aid of leading counsel of the day, such as Alex Shand QC and Tom Hughes QC.

Terry briefed Edward St John QC, a former member of the Australian Parliament and then a leading senior counsel in New South Wales.

​Warragamba Dam Conspiracy (1980s)

​This was an era of intense division and even enmity between the Serbians and Croatians. A group of Croatians were charged with conspiracy to blow up Warragamba Dam. They, in turn, alleged that it was all a set up by a Serbian double-agent. The full story has never been told, but Terry certainly believed his client. His client’s story was so credible that Terry agreed to act for him on a legal aid basis in what became, until then, one of the longest criminal trials in New South Wales legal history conducted by Maxwell J in the Darlinghurst Criminal Court.

​Terry retained John Lloyd Jones QC to defence the case for Zuirotic and Brajkovic. Although Terry’s clients were ultimately convicted, it was not before a long and hard battle in which Brajkovic’s alleged admission was thrown out after having proved that it was extracted by what amounted to torture. In a lengthy voir dire, Brajkovic was able to establish that at the time of the admission, there were rope marks around his neck.

​History will tell if his conviction, and the subsequent unsuccessful appeal to the High Court of Australia, was a miscarriage of justice. The Serbian agent provocateur certainly knows the full story.

​Queen v Ali Ali (1980s)

​Terry acted in a murder trial for Ali Ali.

​The accused slashed another young man in the neck with a bottle while at a bar in Rose Bay. This was an era where there was the beginnings of a lot of prejudice and Ali certainly had an uphill battle. His representation was at the highest level of professionalism, with a very feisty junior counsel, Jim Conomos (who later became a District Court Judge) and eminent senior counsel appearing for him.

​Omopolous v Papatros (1984)

​Terry acted for the Plaintiff in proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales against an obstetrician, Dr Peter Papapetros, who it was alleged had fractured the zygoma of a baby he was delivering.

​The delivery involved massive trauma to the baby, resulting in cerebral encephalopathy, brain damage and spastic quadriplegia. Mrs Omopolous was successful before a jury and recovered a large sum for her daughter.

​This was one of the early major medical negligence cases and Terry subsequently acted in many birth trauma cases, none of which went to trial, and almost all of them were settled for very large sums of money, either at an informal settlement conference or at mediation, all on confidential terms.

Stern Law continues to act in major medical negligence cases, including the successful conduct and completion of some spectacularly difficult cases.

​Young v King – neighbourhood dispute (2008 – 2019)

​Terry represented Mr and Mrs King in the epic neighbourhood contest of Young v King.

This saga played out in the NSW Land & Environment Court before the Honourable Sheahan JA. Up to now, there have been 13 judgments and 2 appeals in the Court of Appeal.

​The case involved what common sense would have made any reasonable applicant accept that this was a dispute which should have been resolved at the earliest possible time with minimal legal expense, given that the actual value of the dispute in terms of the cost of rectification work was, in the scheme of things, trivial. The applicant was poorly advised and persisted in the prosecution of her claim for many years and with such tenacity that the legal costs that she incurred soon dwarfed the amount in dispute many times over.

​Terry acted for the respondents to the proceedings, Mr and Mrs King, who were put in a position where they had no choice but to defend – their backs were literally against the wall. They engaged me to defend them, knowing that Terry would stick with them through thick and thin. One decision after another was in favour of Terry’s clients.

​The sorry saga ended with the Applicant, Mrs Young, being made bankrupt and with Terry’s clients recovering personal costs orders against Mrs Young’s solicitor and her barrister. Stern Law believes that we will be able to help Mr and Mrs King succeed in recovering most of their legal costs from Muriniti’s professional indemnity insurer, as well as from the insurer of Mr Newell.

​The saga included unsuccessful applications by Mr Muriniti to the High Court of Australia for Special Leave to appeal a number of the decisions, both in the primary proceedings and in related proceedings.