Celebrating over 128 Years as Queensland Lawyers
1895 – 2023
Leading Lawyers Townsville
Sometimes, all you need is a fresh perspective. Connolly Suthers are North Queensland’s most experienced and qualified law firm. Established in 1895 with a foundation of leading Townsville lawyers, Connolly Suthers has since become one of North Queensland’s largest, most diverse, and dynamic firms.
Employing a range of expert Queensland lawyers who offer specialist legal advice, Connolly Suthers comprises a team of individual talents working under collective energy. Originating from Townsville Connolly Suthers deliver Queensland’s highest standards of legal help, advice, and services.
We work under the belief that strong reputations don't go unnoticed, and this is why our firm has continued to successfully service the legal needs of North Queenslanders for over 128 years. Work with a law firm that understands you and prioritises your needs – work with Connolly Suthers.Read More
What Our Clients Are SayingRead All
JJ - June 2023
I have dealt with Connolly Suthers now on multiple occasions and its always with out a doubt absolutely amazing! The professionalism is outstanding, they deliver a 10/10 service every time. My resent home purchase was such a smooth transition all thanks to Mitchell. Any legal services needed I wouldn’t look past Connolly Suthers
NL - May 2023
Fantastic from the first phone call. Buying a home all the way from NSW was made very easy with simple and quick phone calls.
PO - May 2023
Fantastic service from lovely staff who are courteous and professional at all times. They help you every step of the way when you need their service and assistance and explain it with extensive knowledge and skills. They provide updates when you ask but will not send unnecessary things that can cost additional fees without your consent. They are reliable and their knowledge and help second to none. I highly recommend and have not found any member of staff undeserving of the recognition being polite and friendly throughout.
TP - May 2023
The team at Connolly Suthers Townsville were amazing. A very special thanks to the Personal Injury Team, who were so very kind, compassionate and professional throughout the process. I can highly recommend Connolly Suthers Lawyers to look after you and your family in your time of need, and I will be forever grateful for Kathryn and her team’s tireless efforts.
TK - March 2023
We worked with Mitchell Clark at Connolly Suthers Lawyers in Townsville for some conveyancing and he made buying our first home a breeze! We came to him under a slight time pressure and unsure of what needed to be done, and Mitchell very quickly got us up to speed on the process. Everything was explained clearly, all our questions were answered, and Mitchell provided us with timely, friendly and straightforward updates as we signed our contract and moved towards settlement. Thank you to Mitchell and to Connolly Suthers, we would recommend to anyone!
Our Legal BlogsRead All
The Power of an Attorney to Renew a BDBN
The recent decision of Justice Applegarth (Queensland Supreme Court) in Re Rentis Pty Ltd  QSC 252 examines an attorney’s powers to make a binding death benefit nomination (BDBN) for an incapacitated member of an SMSF. Justice Applegarth said that “renewing” a BDBN extended to nominating different beneficiaries where the original beneficiary of the BDBN had died. In Rentis:- Robert was a member of an SMSF. He lost capacity in December 2020; Robert had appointed his wife and brother Peter as attorneys under an EPA (which gave Peter an express power to ‘renew’ a BDBN). Prior to losing capacity, Robert made a BDBN directing the trustee to pay his death benefits as follows: 50% to his wife; and 25% to each of his children. Robert’s wife died in February 2021. Robert’s brother Peter remained as the sole attorney under the EPA. Peter, in his capacity as attorney for Robert, made a BDBN directing the trustee to pay Robert’s death benefits as follows: 25% to each of his children; and 50% to Robert’s estate. The EPA provided, “I authorise my attorney/s to ‘renew’ any binding death benefit nomination made by me for any superannuation benefits or entitlement.” Justice Applegarth considered the meaning of the term ‘renew’ and whether it should be construed narrowly or given a purposive interpretation. It was contended that the term ‘renew’ would only permit an attorney to make another BDBN that repeats the terms of the previous BDBN made by the principal. Justice Applegarth did not favour this narrow interpretation and said, “A narrow construction would produce capricious, unreasonable, and certainly inconvenient results for a principal who became incapacitated and whose circumstances had changed or where other circumstances had changed. One would think that it is precisely the existence of changed circumstances that gave rise to the authority given to the attorney to renew any binding death benefit in the sense of making a fresh BDBN, that is, to make a new BDBN to address those circumstances or to renew the BDBN.” He held that the term ‘renew’ did allow the attorney to make a BDBN that differed from the earlier BDBN made by the member. Rentis provides useful guidance on how courts may determine the meaning of the power to ‘renew a BDBN’ if these words appear in an EPA. Of course, if the EPA spelt it out clearly to say different beneficiaries could be nominated, proceedings may have been avoided. With dementia cases on the rise, the terms of EPAs, BDBNs, Reversionary Pensions, SMSF Trust Deeds and Wills should be regularly reviewed holistically (and not in isolation) so that court proceedings can be avoided. If you would like assistance with any of the above information, please contact our Wills and Estates team via (07) 4771 4665.
Domestic Violence and Property Settlements
If my relationship involved serious domestic violence, would this affect the outcome of a property settlement? Domestic violence in a relationship might affect the outcome of a property settlement if there is evidence of serious violent conduct, which has made it significantly more difficult for the victim party to contribute properly to the relationship. A property division is based largely on the contributions. This includes those made by the parties initially, during the relationship, and sometimes even post-separation, as well as the factors that affect each party’s future. The case of Kennon v Kennon established the principle which has to be met in order to vary a property settlement on the basis of serious domestic violence. This case involved a property settlement whereby domestic violence was present in the relationship. The court considered in this case whether the domestic violence had an impact on the victim’s ability to make contributions during the relationship and whether this could influence the outcome of the property settlement. The case predominantly focused on the contributions set out in section 79 of the Family Law Act 1975, specifically 79(4)(c) – (the welfare of the family and homemaker contributions) and also considered section 75 – (the future factors). Three elements were established to satisfy whether the presence of domestic violence could change the outcome of a property settlement: Violent conduct must be established; The violence must have a discernible impact on the victim; and The victim’s contributions to the relationship must be made significantly more ‘arduous’ as a result of the violent conduct This is reflected in the case when the court said: “Our view is that where there is a course of violent conduct by one party towards the other during the marriage which is demonstrated to have had a significant adverse impact upon that party's contributions to the marriage, or, put the other way, to have made his or her contributions significantly more arduous than they ought to have been, that is a fact which a trial judge is entitled to take into account in assessing the parties' respective contributions within s 79.” Their honours also commented that these principles should only encompass “exceptional cases.” What you need to remember: The outcome in Kennon isn’t always going to be reflected in every property case involving domestic violence. It is a high threshold to prove and there have been multiple cases in which the court was not satisfied that the domestic violence actually affected the victim party’s ability to contribute to the relationship or family. If you wish to obtain legal advice about your property matter, please do not hesitate to contact the Family Law team at Connolly Suthers Lawyers by phoning (07) 4771 5664 or submitting an online enquiry on the Family Law page.
Superannuation Updates - 2023
Below is a round-up of some superannuation changes and key developments that may be relevant to you, as trustee of your SMSF. It is important that you know what changes are coming, so you can effectively understand how they may affect you and the members of your SMSF.We intend to regularly provide you with these updates as a way of helping you plan for your retirement and identify any opportunities that can assist you to grow your superannuation savings. IMPORTANT REMINDERS Transfer Balance Account Reporting From 1 July 2023, SMSF trustees will be required to report Transfer Balance Cap events to the ATO no later than 28 days following the end of the quarter in which the event occurred – even if the member’s total super balance is less than $1 million.Further, all unreported events that occur before 30 September 2023 must be reported by 28 October 2023. Minimum pension requirement – account-based pensions SMSFs paying account-based pensions, including market linked pensions, are required to pay at least a minimum amount each year. When calculating the minimum payment requirements for account-based pensions, using a member’s pension balance at 1 July 2023, the 50% reduction that has applied in recent years will no longer apply. The 50% reduction in the minimum pension drawdown rate will not apply to pension payments for the 2023-24 financial year. Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement – Safe Harbour Interest rates Generally speaking, SMSF trustees must ensure all investments are conducted on an arm’s-length basis. Where an SMSF borrows money from a related party under a Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement (LRBA), the ATO has previously provided guidance on what is required to ensure such a loan is on arm’s length terms for tax purposes.As part of that guidance, the ATO provided some safe harbour loan terms. For SMSF trustees relying on these safe harbour terms, the interest rate to be charged in 2023-24 has increased to:• Real property: 8.85%• Listed shares or units: 10.85% Rollovers – SuperStream From 1 July 2023, all rollovers to and from an SMSF, now require a fund trustee to have a rollover enabled Electronic Service Address (ESA) to execute the rollover using SuperStream. SMSF auditors will be required to report a rollover as a breach of the SuperStream standards if it has been actioned without an active rollover enabled ESA from 1 July 2023. Previously, limited temporary relief had been provided to SMSFs by the ATO, to allow certain rollovers to be processed outside of SuperStream without trustees incurring any penalties. However this relief ended on 30 June 2023. Increase in value of penalty units Under the SMSF penalty regime, various breaches will give rise to penalties that are expressed in terms of penalty units. Where an infringement occurs on or after 1 July 2023, the value of each penalty unit has increased to $313 (up from $275). Valuation of fund assets - 4 JULY 2023 The ATO has issued a reminder to SMSF trustees that, as part of preparing their fund’s accounts, statements, and SMSF Annual Return they are required to value the fund assets at market value.To support this, the ATO’s SMSF valuation guidelines provide a useful resource to fund trustees. Re-structuring market linked pensions - 21 JUNE 2023 SMSF members are usually able to restructure existing market-linked pensions by stopping an existing, and starting a new, pension.In some cases, this may result in some individuals receiving an excess transfer balance determination from the ATO – for exceeding their Transfer Balance Cap. The good news is that members can now commute the excess amount from their otherwise non-commutable market linked pension without breaching the pension standards.However, the ATO has made it abundantly clear that where an SMSF trustee is seeking to remove an excess transfer balance amount from a market-linked pension, they cannot commute any of the capital supporting a restructured market linked pension (MLP) until a commutation authority has been issued by the Commissioner. This means a member must wait for at least 60 days from when they are issued with an excess transfer balance determination. This legislated 60-day election period cannot be shortened. In our experience, a member should then expect to wait at least another 28 days before the ATO will issue a commutation authority. Non-arm’s length expenses (NALE) – Draft legislation - 19 JUNE 2023 Following the earlier release of a consultation paper, and a period of industry consultation, the Government released Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures for Consultation) Bill 2023: Non-arm’s length expense rules for superannuation funds.This draft legislation contains several changes that seek to amend the Non-arm’s length income (NALI) provisions to address the potential for disproportionately severe outcomes for breaches relating to general expenses.Perhaps of most significance for SMSFs, the proposed amendments would result in the maximum amount of income taxable at the highest marginal rate being two times the level of the general expenditure breach – calculated as the difference between the amount that would have been charged as an arm’s length expense and the amount that was actually charged to the fund. The Government had previously proposed that this be set to five times. These measures are not yet law. Property development – ATO Taxpayer Alert - 15 JUNE 2023 The ATO issued Taxpayer Alert (TA) 2023/2 which deals with “Diverting profits of a property development project to a self-managed superannuation fund, through use of a special purpose vehicle, involving non-arm’s length arrangements.”Outlined in this Taxpayer Alert are arrangements of concern to the ATO which broadly involve SMSF trustees investing, directly or indirectly, in a special purpose vehicle which undertakes property development.The Alert outlines the ATO’s view that non-arm’s length dealings by any party, in respect of any step, in relation to a scheme, can give rise to Non-arm’s length income (NALI). This extends to any capital gains derived on the subsequent disposal of an SMSF’s interest in the special purpose vehicle.The ATO’s concerns generally revolve around the lack of commerciality and the inappropriate diversion of profits from property development projects to an SMSF. First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) – Improved Flexibility - 14 JUNE 2023 The FHSSS allows an individual to withdraw up to $50,000 of voluntary contributions (plus associated earnings/less tax) from their super fund to assist with the purchase of a new home. The maximum amount of contributions an individual can make each year, that will be counted towards the FHSSS, is currently $15,000 p.a.The Government has introduced Treasury Laws Amendment (2023 Measures No. 3) Bill 2023, to improve the flexibility of the FHSSS.Accordingly, under this new bill, once legislated:• individuals will be able to amend or revoke their application to the ATO to release super under the FHSSS. Under the current law, this is not permitted.• individuals will have more time to request a release authority after they have entered into a contract to buy or construct a home, from 14 days to 90 days. Illegal Early Access to Super - 7 JUNE 2023 The ATO published a reminder that cases of illegal early access to super will not go unpunished. To highlight this warning, the ATO cited a recent AAT Case, WZWK and Commissioner of Taxation (Taxation)  AATA 872. The taxpayer in this case was found to have breached the superannuation payment standards by illegally making payments from the SMSF to himself as a member – which did not meet a condition of release. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) affirmed the ATO Commissioners earlier decision to amend the individual taxpayer’s personal income tax assessments, impose tax shortfall penalties and disqualify the trustee due to not being a fit and proper person following an ATO audit which uncovered illegal early release of superannuation benefits. This resulted in the taxpayer owing around $413,000 in additional tax and over $179,000 in tax shortfall penalties because they had made false and misleading statements in their income tax returns. ATO Statistics – SMSF quarterly statistical report (March 2023) - 24 MAY 2023 The ATO issued its quarterly statistical report which provides a number of interesting insights, including:• Total SMSFs: 606,217• Total SMSF members: 1,136,234• Total estimated SMSF assets: $889.5 billion• The top asset types held by SMSFs (by value): - listed shares (29%) - cash and term deposits (15%).• 53% of SMSF members are male and 47% are female• 87% of SMSF members are 45 years or older. Validity of Binding Death Benefit Nomination (BDBN) - 5 MAY 2023 Among other things, in the case of Williams v Williams & Anor  QSC 90 the court was asked to consider whether a Binding Death Benefit Nomination (BDBN) was valid. Broadly, in this case, a deceased member’s BDBN had been executed by the deceased member (i.e. executed by himself, albeit in his capacity as a fund trustee). The relevant provisions in the fund’s trust deed required that the trustees be given written notice of a BDBN. However, the second trustee (i.e. the deceased member’s son) was not given written notice. And as such, it was held that the BDBN was not valid. The findings from this case provides yet another reminder of the importance of precisely following the terms of a fund’sgoverning rules, to ensure than any BDBNs made by fund members are valid.
The Connolly Suthers Difference
At Connolly Suthers, we feel privileged to be entrusted with our client's legal affairs, helping them navigate what is often some of the most challenging times of their lives. Our diverse, talented team has considerable expertise in multiple aspects of law and channel this experience to make a substantial, positive difference in the lives of locals.
We believe that your lawyer should have a significant understanding of how Townsville operates and its underlying cultural systems to provide the most genuine, useful legal advice possible. That’s why we frequently employ experienced legal professionals locally from within North Queensland, possessing a proud history of employing law graduates from James Cook University. Not only does this allow us to give back to the local community, but it only boosts our ability to deliver the most relevant and beneficial legal advice possible.
Our genuine care for the wellbeing of our clients and attention to detail in every case is what sets us apart from other law firms in Queensland. From criminal law to personal injury law, family disputes, property settlements, child custody, and traffic offences, we'll be in your corner, every step of the legal process. If you’re looking for legal support in Townsville, we’re here to make a positive difference in as many lives as possible. Call Connolly Suthers on 07 4771 5664 to get help today.Read More
If you have an ongoing case with another firm and you are unhappy with how things are progressing, you might want to consider switching to the local lawyers at Connolly Suthers.
You can have the best legal representation you deserve without the worry of paying legal costs in the event you lose your case*
Providing a stress-free, 'to-your-door' conveyancing service any day, any time that suits youLearn More
Frequently Asked Questions
What legal services do Connolly Suthers offer?
We operate across a range of legal matters including compensation, family, wills & estates, property, conveyancing, business, dispute resolution and criminal law; helping a variety of clients across Queensland to navigate the legal system.
It’s highly likely that you’ll need the services of a lawyer at least once in your lifetime. When you turn to Connolly Suthers for legal assistance, you can be confident that you’ll receive quality legal advice with a personal touch, regardless of which service you require. Our criminal lawyers, family lawyers, and compensation solicitors are here to help with the most common types of legal problems faced in these areas of concern.
Whether you're facing criminal offences, are dealing with a family law matter, looking to file compensation claims, have traffic offences, a domestic violence order, class actions, or just require an experienced team to assure a successful legal outcome, we can provide specialised advice for a wide range of concerns and legal issues.
Whatever type of legal assistance you need, we’re sure to be able to help. At Connolly Suthers, we have considerable experience and knowledge in all aspects of compensation law, family law, wills and estates, property law, criminal law, conveyancing, business services and dispute resolution.
We have Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialists in Property Law, Succession Law, Family law and Personal Injuries Litigation. Combining extensively trained and experienced legal practitioners with state-of-the-art communications and technology, Connolly Suthers delivers an unrivalled level of legal service in the Northern Queensland region. Get in touch with our team today - we're here to provide legal advice for a wide range of legal matters.
Do you offer free consultations?
Yes, at Connolly Suthers Lawyers Townsville, we offer free consultations in most areas.
Please note that while ‘family law’ and ‘employment law’ offer discounted fees for your initial appointment, they do not offer free consultation.
Do you offer No-Win, No-Fee?
Yes we offer no-win, no-fee services because we believe that nobody should be denied justice as a result of limited finances. We offer no-win, no-fee services in a range of matters including:
- Traffic accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Public liability accidents
- Medical negligence claims
- Life insurance claims
- Superannuation claims
- Certain commercial disputes
With Connolly Suthers Townsville Lawyers, you get the legal representation that you deserve without the worry of paying legal costs in the event that you lose your case. Our compassionate, friendly team understand the value of excellent service when facing a legal problem and a difficult time. Work with the solicitors that understand you and prioritise your needs – work with Connolly Suthers.
How much does representation with Connolly Suthers cost?
All Connolly Suthers clients receive the absolute highest level of quality legal representation and advice available in the region. Generally the cost of our legal services will vary based on the time required for our legal team to work on your case and the extent of the case as a whole, unless it is one of our fixed-fee services.
Regardless, we believe that nobody should be denied justice as a result of limited finances and that’s why we offer no-win, no-fee services in a range of matters including:
- Traffic accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Public liability accidents
- Medical negligence claims
- Life insurance claims
- Superannuation claims
- Certain commercial disputes
With Connolly Suthers Townsville Lawyers, you get the legal representation that you deserve without the worry of paying legal costs in the event that you lose your case. Work with the lawyers that understand you and prioritise your needs – Connolly Suthers.
How do you charge? Will I need to pay upfront? What are your prices like?
Most legal services are charged in accordance with a costs agreement which is provided to you at the commencement of the matter. Usually this must be signed and returned before any work is completed. This includes work done in most areas such as family law, personal injury, large commercial and leasing work, criminal law and estate administration. From your first phone call, your family lawyer, criminal lawyer, personal injury or estate solicitors can walk you through these fees work.
There are fixed price services available for basic conveyancing, wills and enduring powers of attorney. No nasty surprises - just a team who are committed to the best outcome. Please contact our office for more information about these services.
Do you offer payment plans?
Generally, no. However, you should feel free to discuss your financial situation with the solicitor involved with your case, at your initial appointment at Connolly Suthers. We understand that moving through the legal system can get expensive - from your first phone call, our compassionate team will openly discuss fees and work in your best interests, in a timely manner, to achieve a positive outcome.
Do you certify documents? Do you have JPs available?
We usually only certify documents for clients of Connolly Suthers or in the course of matters in which we are involved. If you are looking to find a JP you can search for one here.
Do you hold relatives' documents in safe custody? What can you hold in safe custody?
For client's of Connolly Suthers we offer the service of storing in our safe custody original Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney, Certificates of Title, etc.
How are you involved with the Townsville Community?
The partners and staff of Connolly Suthers have long-standing ties throughout the local community. Over a large number of years we have supported various clubs and sporting teams in Townsville and in the Burdekin. We are regular supporters of Ronald McDonald House and the Vinnies foundation.
Find out more about our contributions to the local community here.
How do I contact Connolly Suthers?
Where are your other offices located?
Our Brisbane office is located at 240 Queen Street, Brisbane.
Our Cairns office is located at 14 Spence Street, Cairns.
Our Ayr office is located at 180 Queen Street, Ayr.
We visit Mount Isa as well as other regions throughout North Queensland by appointment.