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Boutique law firm making name known on legal stage

An independent law firm owned by Kimberley Traditional Owners, Arma Legal is committed to protecting clients’ cultural and heritage values and is cementing that commitment with big case wins.

Supply Nation certified, Arma Legal is one of Australia’s leading law firms specialising in Native Title negotiations and governance arrangements for Native Title holder groups, Aboriginal corporations, and individual Aboriginal clients.

The firm is also a wholly-owned subsidiary of KRED Enterprises, a non-profit company with a primary focus on delivering economic and social outcomes for Aboriginal people.

The strong team of experienced practitioners is spread across the country including Sydney, Broome, Adelaide and Cairns, working across various areas of law.

Arma Legal staff have a deep understanding and respect for the importance of clients’ cultural and heritage values, and work to achieve the best possible outcomes while protecting these values.

Hayley Hass is one of the powerhouses behind Arma Legal who, along with another lawyer, went up against over ten lawyers representing mining company Sheffield Resources, and won.

Sheffield Resources set their sights on a multimillion dollar, mineral sands Thunderbird project 60 kilometres west of Derby. The project aimed to create over 400 construction jobs, with a permanent workforce of 280 people.

The company failed to reach agreements with Traditional Owners before starting works on Country and were ordered back to court to come to an agreement with Traditional Owners before proceeding.

Mount Jowlaenga Traditional Owners pursued agreements for the protection of cultural heritage, compensation for environmental impacts of works on their Native Title land, and ensured their participation in the project through employment opportunities or contracting.

A Director of Arma Legal, Hass is a highly experienced legal practitioner. In her time working with Arma Legal, she has led successful Full Federal Court litigation, setting a new precedent for the protection of Native Title parties’ rights under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

Hass has negotiated high benchmarks in cultural heritage protection and achieved strong commercial outcomes for Native Title parties faced with resource development in the Kimberley.

Peter Murray, Chair of KRED Enterprises Charitable Trust, is glowing in his praise of the work that Arma Legal is doing in the Native Title space.

“Arma Legal is a professional legal firm. They did an exceptional job despite all the odds against Traditional Owners under the [Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)],” Murray said.

“[They] were able to successfully win a good faith argument and make sure the mining company did a proper agreement with the consent of Traditional Owners for development of their project.”

Hema Hariharan is the Managing Practitioner Director for Arma Legal and has worked as a lawyer for over 13 years in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Hariharan puts strong working emphasis on collaborating with Native Title holders and other Aboriginal groups to achieve their social cultural and economic aspirations.

On the recent victory by the Mount Jowlaenga Traditional Owners, Hariharan said the landmark case set the scene for future negotiations in the Kimberley.

“This is a precedent setting win for the firm,” Hariharan said.

The recent win against Sheffield Resources for the relatively small firm is huge, not only for Arma Legal but also their clients, Traditional Owners and future Native Title agreements.

By Caris Duncan

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