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Book Review: Collection of Inside Stories 2010–2014 Print E-mail

collection_of_inside_stories_intro.jpgAuthor: MATTHEW BURGESS

Self Published:


Reviewed by David Marks

Mr Burgess is a principal at a Brisbane law firm. He has compiled his blog posts into a book, sorted under several headings.

The overall topic headings are:

  • Asset protection
  • Estate planning
  • Trusts
  • Companies
  • Powers of attorney
  • Business succession
  • Structuring
  • Superannuation
  • Advisor tools

Within several of those headings, there are major subdivisions. For example, I was interested in how the author had blogged about family trusts as a wealth preservation tool, following Kennon v Spry (2008) 238 CLR 366.

As the book is a compilation of blog posts, it is not an efficient means of gathering comprehensive information about a particular topic. I doubt it is intended as such.

Each blog post was a case note, a point that arose in practice, or the like. The content adopts a chatty style. Each post has not been edited down to remove introductory material. This is not a traditional legal text.

The re-ordering of material, the lack of an index, and the lack of meaningful cross-referencing, means that it is not be easy to find earlier blogs mentioned. (For example, p.16 contains 2 cross-references, but only to URLs (not page numbers)).

URLs are also given in this book to take the reader to a case or other electronic resource. That would work in the electronic version of this book. (I am reviewing the hard copy.) But it does not work in hard copy, as the reader has to put down the book, and then type into a browser, to gain the resource.

Typing the URLs given won’t always be easy, since the URLs given are not, uniformly, a short, direct address. For example, addresses for cases at Austlii are sometimes given as a lengthy address of a kind I am used to seeing where I have searched a case (or been cross-referred) within Austlii (pp.15, 19, 34, 39, 40, 46). This issue has been picked up on other pages, so it is not always an irritant.

But I would suggest trying the electronic book, rather than hardcopy, assuming the links are live in the ebook.

The book is probably a marketing tool (eg pp.275-279, about the apps launched by the author’s firm), which aimed at the generalist and at better accountants.

To other readers, there are nevertheless nuggets of useful observation.

For example, a case note (pp.40-41) of Morton v Morton [2012] Fam CA 30 highlights how a thoughtful structure, for a family trust, meant that assets of the trust were not taken to be those of the husband. (The husband had conceded that the assets were a “financial resource”, for family law proceedings.) As an unreported, trial decision, the case had gone unnoticed by me.

On the other hand, the “asset protection” strategy of transferring land on vendor finance, followed by forgiveness of the vendor’s loan, is not news to specialist readers. Nor is a gift, with a loan back. (See pages 16 & 39.) There is no explanation why the strategies are said to be efficient. These blog posts were teasers - and quite legitimately so, in context. But compiled into a book, that kind of blog post does look like a little like a fish out of water.

This text would be useful for general practitioners, those new to wealth structuring, as well as accountants who have to deal with these issues.

Even for those with relevant specialist experience, an hour or two spent turning the pages will reward.

If nothing else, the book provides market intelligence as to the kinds of transactions being suggested in Brisbane in the last few years. It should provoke discussion.

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