Peter Seidel is the partner responsible for co-ordinating Arnold Bloch Leibler’s public interest law contributions and is head of the firm’s native title practice. His position emphasises the notion of giving back to the community and acknowledges a commitment that both he and the firm have to pro bono work. Notably, Peter represented the Yorta Yorta Aboriginal peoples in their landmark native title claim, High Court appeal and associated legal transactions.
He has a particular skill for dealing with delicate, sensitive legal issues; he’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders over the years.
In 2008, Peter was appointed an Adjunct Professor of Law at La Trobe University. In this position, Peter advises the University’s law school on the direction of its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and strengthens its connections with the legal profession. He also supports La Trobe’s public interest law programme by advising on its development and taking part in its teaching.
In his public interest law co-ordinating role at Arnold Bloch Leibler, Peter also receives and acts on requests for pro-bono legal assistance through Justice Connect, having previously served on the board of the Public Interest Law Clearing House from 2002 to 2007.
Peter has been highlighted as one of Australia’s leading lawyers in the area of native title since 2008 in successive editions of Chambers Asia-Pacific. Peter is widely acclaimed for his deep commitment to his work with traditional owners. One client highlights: “You can immediately see he is committed, welcoming and warm, and of course, very assured in his advice.” Amongst other important Indigenous bodies, Peter acts as a trusted adviser to Anindilyakwa Land Council, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Yamatji Malpa Aboriginal, Native Title Services Victoria and the Wantok Musik Foundation. Peter is also recognised by Best Lawyers® International in the areas of native title law and public law. Most recently, Peter was ranked by Doyle’s Guide as ‘leading’ in the category of Leading Native Title Lawyers (Traditional Owner Representation) – Australia, 2017.
Peter joined Arnold Bloch Leibler as a lawyer in 1993 and became a partner in 2002. Previously, he completed a three-year position at the Federal Court of Australia as associate to Acting Chief Justice Sweeney. He is entered on the High Court Register of Practitioners and is entitled to practice as a barrister and solicitor of both the Federal Court and Supreme Court of Victoria.
Peter was the inaugural recipient of the Pro Bono Award at the 2004 LIV’s President’s Awards. In 2006, he received the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Human Rights Award in the law category in recognition of his significant contribution to the promotion and advancement of human rights in Australia. In 2007, Peter received the Victorian Law Foundation’s Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award for his pro-bono service to Indigenous peoples. In 2014 Peter was a finalist in the LIV’s pro-bono lawyer of the year.
- public interest law, advising peak, charitable and not-for-profit Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations on governance and constitutional related issues, promoting cultural, social justice and environmental outcomes;
- native title and associated tax, governance, structuring and general commercial advice, concentrating on achieving effective, practical and sustainable outcomes, respecting at all times his clients’ goals, and the importance of obtaining their free, prior and informed consent; and
- commercial law and commercial litigation, including contractual advice, alternative dispute resolution, consultancy and service agreements.
Directorships & memberships
Peter serves on the board of Wantok Musik Foundation.
Peter has acted and currently acts on a range of public interest and commercial law and commercial litigation matters, including:
- various Northern Territory Land Councils, including Anindilyakwa Land Council: in relation to its statutory functions under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act;
- Yorta Yorta Aboriginal peoples: in relation to their 1994 Federal Court application, 1999 Full Court of the Federal Court appeal, 2002 High Court Appeal and ongoing legal issues;
- various native title representative bodies, including Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, Goldfields Land and Sea Council and Native Title Service Victoria: in relation to their statutory functions under the Native Title Act;
- various prescribed body corporates and ATSI Corporations, including Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation: in relation to ongoing corporate governance requirements, agreements, memoranda of understanding and miscellaneous legal issues;
- Lowitja Institute, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Koorie Heritage Trust, Woor-Dungin, Australian Conservation Foundation, Reconciliation Australia, Recognise, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Voiceless – the Fund for Animals, Habonim Dror, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Mount Scopus, Leibler Yavneh, Jewish Aid, PBS FM and Reichstein Foundation: in relation to ongoing corporate governance requirements, agreements, memoranda of understanding and miscellaneous legal issues;
- the African Australian community of Flemington and Kensington: in relation to their Australian Human Rights Commission complaint and subsequent Federal Court racial discrimination action against the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner and the State of Victoria, which successfully settled in 2013 leading to an unprecedented enquiry;
- the traditional owners of the Thamarrurr region: in relation to education, health and general community issues concerning the peoples of Wadeye in the Northern Territory; and
- The Gumatj and Rirratjingu clans: in their negotiations with Rio Tinto Alcan over RTA’s Gove mining operations.