Derek Humphery-Smith


Lander & Rogers
Level 12 Bourke Place
600 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Tel: +61 3 9269 9116


Derek leads our firm’s international practice, driving our strategy to be the independent Australian firm of choice in our key overseas markets: US, UK, Japan, China, Singapore and Malaysia. He also co-ordinates our five commercial groups to ensure they remain constantly client focussed and working collaboratively as a seamless commercial offering for both Australian and international clients.

Derek practises in all areas of workplace relations and safety law. He operates extensively across both the public and private sectors with experience in all Australian jurisdictions.

Derek is regularly sought out by employers when matters are sensitive or where media interest will be high. Clients who have retained Derek include prominent Australian and international companies and government bodies such as: Reece Australia; Medibank Private; Malaysia Airlines; Gallagher; RSM Australia; Grant Thornton; Deloitte; Ord Minnett; The University of Melbourne; RMIT; Victoria Police; Parliament of Victoria; Telstra Super; Deutsche Bank; Port of Melbourne Corporation; Crown Resorts; and the Australian Football League.

Derek is recognised in the 2008 to 2020 editions of Best Lawyers in Australia for his expertise in Labour & Employment Law and Occupational Health & Safety. In 2016, Derek was nominated as one of only four lawyers in Australia to be the Most Client Focused Lawyer in the Financial Review Client Choice Awards.

He is Regional Vice Chair-Asia Pacific and a director of TerraLex, one of the world’s two largest networks of independent law firms representing over 20,000 lawyers globally. TerraLex was again rated as an elite network by Chambers Global in 2020.

Lander & Rogers is a leading independent Australian law firm operating nationally from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. We are proud to be the trusted advisor to many publicly listed and private Australian companies, Australian subsidiaries of global companies as well as all levels of government.

We have seven areas of practice, and we cover a range of industry sectors, with a focus on financial services, insurance, government, real estate, and retail and supply chain.

We believe that legal services are much more than just the law – they are about great people, sustained excellence and exceptional client service. We have a reputation in the legal market as a provider of premium legal services, and as a sought after employer. We are renowned in Australia for our down-to-earth and supportive workplace culture.

Our team advises both corporate and public sector employers on all aspects of employment law:

Advice and development of employment agreements

We understand that each client\’s business operates differently and we ensure that this is reflected in employment agreements, particularly for matters such as confidential information and post-employment restraints.

We draft employment contracts for a wide range of commercial and government employers and we work with our clients to gain an understanding of their businesses and identify areas that require protection through an employment contract.

We also advise employers on how to deal with the interaction between contracts of employment and the minimum standards set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including in relation to the complex area of modern awards.

Confidential information and intellectual property

Our team regularly advises employers on strategies and possible action to be taken against employees and former employees for breaches of their obligations in protecting their employer’s confidential information and intellectual property. This includes seeking urgent interlocutory injunctions and, in serious cases, search orders (formerly known as “Anton Piller” orders).

Restraint of trade advice and enforcement

It is becoming increasingly common for employers to use post-employment restraints to prevent their former employees from immediately starting work with a competitor.

Post-employment restraints generally include obligations on employees not to:

  • work for a competitor of their former employer
  • solicit or poach clients of their former employer
  • solicit or poach employees or suppliers of their former employer

We act for employers who wish to enforce post-employment restraints and for employers whose new employees are subject to such restraints.
Restraints of trade often result in litigation being brought on at short notice and we have the resources and expertise to successfully deal with all aspects of these proceedings.


We have specialist expertise in advising employers on all aspects of compliance with the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992, and in their default fund arrangements for employees as well as contractual matters concerning superannuation as part of the remuneration package.

Click here for further information about employer superannuation obligations

Termination of employment – advice and defence of claims

The introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) has significantly broadened the application of unfair dismissal laws.

We advise employers on how to ensure that a termination of employment is both for a valid reason and procedurally fair. We also provide advice on disputes arising from the termination of employment, such as claims of unlawful termination and wrongful dismissal. These complaints can be conducted in a range of different courts and our team regularly acts for clients in each of these jurisdictions.

We appear on behalf of employers at conciliation conferences conducted by Fair Work Australia. While most unfair dismissal applications settle at this stage, some proceed to a formal hearing and our team is highly experienced in defending these claims.

Workplace defamation

Workplace defamation is emerging as a new trend in employment law and employers need to be cautious when making comments (both publically and within the business) about the reasons for an employee\’s departure.

We advise employers in relation to comments that they wish to make publicly (externally and internally) about employees, particularly in circumstances where the employee\’s employment was terminated in less than amicable circumstances.

The increased use of social media, such as facebook and twitter, has also seen an increase in instances of employees making derogatory, and in some cases defamatory, comments about other employees or businesses. We advise employers on the steps they can take to discipline an employee who has made unfavourable comments concerning the company on a social networking site.

Workplace investigations

Our team has significant experience in conducting workplace investigations, often of a highly sensitive nature, in both the private and the public sector. We work closely with our clients in these matters to ensure outcomes are achieved quickly and discreetly.

We have a detailed understanding of the typical claims arising in workplaces, across all areas of employee misconduct, discrimination and employee grievances, including:

  • Workplace bullying and harassment
  • Occupational assault
  • Employee fraud and other corrupt conduct
  • Sexual harassment
  • Inappropriate internet and email use
  • Victimisation
  • Policy breaches

Poor handling of investigations, mediations and other internal reviews can have serious implications in disputes and legal proceedings. Our team has the experience to ensure that any internal review process is undertaken to the highest standard possible.

Workplace policies

We prepare and advise on the full range of workplace policies and procedures. These include policies in relation to:

  • EEO and anti discrimination;
  • sexual harassment and workplace bullying;
  • requirements for all forms of leave, including parental, annual, personal and compassionate;
  • flexible work arrangements;
  • OH&S;
  • Internet and email (including social networking)
  • We regularly advise employers on how best to introduce new policies into the workplace and how to deal with the relationship between workplace policies and contracts of employment.

Workplace training

We help employers meet their legal responsibilities and minimise their risk of potential legal liability by providing training across a wide variety of workplace issues. Read full details about the kind of workplace training we offer.

Australian Human Resources Institute, Australian Labour Law Association, Australian Corporate Lawyers Association, Workplace Relations section of the Law Institute of Victoria, Industrial Relations Society of Victoria, Australia and New Zealand Sports Law Association
Memberships & Associations