Harold Downes

Harold has more than 30 years’ experience advising in industrial relations, employment and work health and safety (WHS) regulatory law. He was one of only four “Leading Individuals” listed in the Asia-Pacific Legal 500 ‘s inaugural WHS review in 2016, a rank which he continues to hold today.

Harold is also listed as a “Pre-eminent” lawyer in Queensland by Doyle’s Guide for his WHS expertise.

Clients describe Harold as “calm and level-headed in a crisis” as well as “courageous, intelligent and focused on excellence” and an advisor whom clients “have on [their] speed-dial.”

Harold lectures at the UQ School of Earth and Environmental Science on the subjects of Crisis Management and Personal WHS Liability and the QUT Faculty of Health – Health, Safety and Environment on the subjects of Contractor Management, Crisis Management and Officer Due Diligence.


Harold’s expertise includes:

  • Crisis response and incident management
  • Board governance and compliance advice
  • Contractor management strategies
  • Responding to Improvement and Prohibition Notices
  • Workplace investigations including performance management and terminations (award covered and executive)
  • Restraints of trade
  • Managing long term absenteeism for ill and injured employees and poor performance
  • Responding to industrial action, protects and disputes
  • Right of entry and sham contracting
  • Enterprise Agreements

Recent Projects

  • Conducting WHS Due Diligence a number of reviews to assess director compliance and recommending areas of improvement and the development of a ‘defence brief’ and due diligence action plans, including for some of Australia’s largest public and private companies.
  • Successfully defending a large manufacturing operation in relation to a WHS prosecution following a fatality.
  • Successfully defending a series of general protections claims brought by middle and senior management employees following a restructure.
  • Scoping, costing and completing a workplace bullying investigation involving a CEO and the executive team, within one week and under budget, resulting in no departures or litigation.
  • Advising a national scaffolding supplier on compliance with the Building Code.

Professional Memberships / Accreditation & Activities

  • Ranked Lawyer (Band 2), Health & Safety, Chambers Asia Pacific
  • Leading Individual, Labour and Employment, Workplace Health & Safety, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific
  • Leading Lawyer, Workplace Health & Safety, Doyle’s Guide
  • Pre-eminent Lawyer, Workplace Health & Safety, Doyle’s Guide
  • Recommended Lawyer, Employment Law, Doyle’s Guide
  • Recognised Lawyer, Labour and Employment Law & Occupational Health and Safety Law, The Best Lawyers in Australia
  • Harold qualified as a graduate of the AICD Company Directors Course in November 2018


Brisbane / Perth


Rachael Sutton

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