LL.B, Grad Dip. Legal Prac, Grad Cert. Dispute Resolution

Derek Mortimer has a reputation for patience, diplomacy and fairness when assisting with the resolution of internal disputes within not for profit organisations and charities. He is valued by his clients for his down to earth, empathetic approach to their needs for legal assistance.

Derek found inspiration to practice charity law from a study tour of community land trusts and revolving loan funds in the USA in 1993. Consequently and at the request of a consortium of landcare groups in Northeast Victoria, Derek developed a micro-finance project (“the landcare loans project”) for Australian rural communities, focussed on sustainable development.

During his time developing the landcare loans project, Derek undertook part time legal studies at the University of New England, writing papers on ‘Corporate governance in the not-for-profit sector’ and ‘Use of the public trust doctrine for environmental management’.

Derek completed his report on the landcare loans project for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation in 2003. As the project proponent, he was commended by the Australian Landcare Council and subsequently won a place in the Social Ventures Australia National Business Plan Competition.

He was admitted to practice law in 2005.

Derek advised and prepared the public consultation draft code of practice and complaints process for the Fundraising Institute of Australia; a code which is now independently regarded as being a benchmark of not for profit best practice. Derek has also prepared a bequest strategy for the Howard Florey Institute and a “plain English”deed of conservation covenant for Trust for Nature (Victoria).

In 2012 and at the request of a consortium of funding bodies, Derek undertook and completed the first comprehensive legal analysis of community land trusts and their application in Australia. Through this analysis Derek has shown that the affordable housing goals of community land trusts can be achieved in Australia without the need to create a separate title to fixtures.

Board memberships and affiliations

  • Derek is founding chair and member of the Law Institute Victoria (LIV) Charities and Not for profit Law Committee.
  • Derek is a member of the ACNC professional users group.
  • Director, Live & Learn International-Australia Ltd (a charity supporting programs in developing countries).
  • Committee member – Prosper Australia Research Institute research committee (an Approved Research Institute and charity researching issues related to affordable housing).

Selected papers and articles published:

  • Derek is contributing author for the Thomson Reuters Not for Profit Best Practice Manual – chapters on “Formation” and “Dispute Management”
  • The Australian Nonprofit Sector Legal Almanac 2014 – “Trouble in the house: resolving internal disputes in nonprofit organisations” (April 2015)
  • Law Institute Journal  – “Practising for a good cause” March 2015 (a mention of our firm in this article on not for profit law)
  • Pro Bono News “ACNC approach to governance under scrutiny” (3 July 2014) – article on our firm’s experience with an internal dispute within a registered charitable institution
  • Derek is contributing author for the University of Western Sydney Australian Community Land Trust Manual (background research on Australian property law and CLT leases is found on our “resources” page)
  • Law Institute Journal – “Charity need not be taxing” (April 2011)
  • The National Times – “Why hasn’t the tax office gagged Cardinal Pell?”(August 2010)
  • Law Institute Journal – “A Word on Charity” (April 2010)
  • Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation – The Landcare Revolving Loan Fund: a development report (2001)

Selected submissions:

  • CAANZ Australian Consumer Law Interim Report October 2016 submission 9 December 2016
  • ACNC draft Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement Public Benevolent Institutions 26 April 2016
  • Consumer Affairs Victoria Residential Tenancies Act Review “Security of Tenure” November 2015, 21 December 2015
  • Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry into finance for the not for profit sector 19 May 2011
  • Treasury discussion paper Improving the integrity of public ancillary funds 13 December 2010
  • Senate Inquiry into the Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010 – June 2010
  • FaHCSIA – Indigenous Home Ownership Issues Paper and Regulation and Growth of the Not-for-Profit Housing Sector Discussion Paper – May 2010
  • Associations Incorporation Amendment Bill 2010 – 31 March 2010
  • Corporations Amendment (Corporate Reporting Reform) Bill 2010 – 25 January 2010
  • Productivity Commission – Review of the Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector – 24 November 2009


  • Collins & Co Lunchtime series 11 July 2017 “Bullying in the NFP boardroom”
  • Collins & Co Not for profit Conference 17 March 2016 MCG “Social Enterprises”
  • Collins & Co Not for profit Conference 29 May 2015 Hotel Pullman Albert Park “Dispute Resolution”
  • Legalwise Legal issues in the not for profit sector seminar 27 March 2015 “Internal disputes: war stories”
  • Legalwise Legal issues in the Not for profit Sector 20 March 2014 “A New Definition of Charity as of 2014”
  • Collins & Co/DF Mortimer & Associates Charities and Not for profit Governance seminar, Jasper Hotel Melbourne 15 October 2013
  • Collins & Co/DF Mortimer & Associates Charities and Not for profit Governance seminar Yarraville Club 16 July 2013
  • Legalwise Charities and Not-for-profit Law seminar  “Charities and not for profit law: developments in 2013” (chair and opening address) 22 March 2013
  • LIV Business Law study group presentation on “The Associations Incorporation Reform Act and The Co-operatives National Law” 19 March 2013
  • Thomson Reuters Not for Profit Law and Regulation Conference “Facing up to disputes” 17 October 2012
  • Philanthropy Australia/Warrakirri Asset Management seminar “Funding: when to say ‘No thanks’!” 23 April 2012
  • Legalwise Seminar “Not-for-profit internal and external dispute resolution” 23 March 2012
  • QUT CPNS Fundraising Regulation Conference “Self regulation using codes of practice” 20 April 2011
  • Law Institute Victoria Not for Profit Conference – “The Aid/Watch Case” – 15 April 2011
  • Community Housing Federation Australia Exchange – “Community Land Trusts” 14 April 2011
  • mecu – “Community Land Trusts: an information session” – 22 November 2010
  • Australian Charity Law Association 26 June 2010 – “The Aid/Watch Case”
  • Law Week 2010 – “Charities and Politics: from Wilberforce to the High Court”  – 18 May 2010
  • Law Institute Victoria – “Not-for-profit foundations-applying to the Tax Office” -19 November 2009
  • Green New Deal Conference – “Not for profits in a green economy”- 24 October 2009


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