Frank Higginson heads the community titles practice at Hynes Legal.
Frank commenced five years articles of clerkship on the Gold Coast while studying law externally in January 1992 and apart from a two-year hiatus working in London with a multinational firm from 1997 to 1999 he has practiced in Queensland in property matters for his entire career.
Frank joined Hynes Legal in 2001. He became a partner/director in 2004 and since then has whittled his practice down to the two keys areas for strata law in Queensland - body corporate law and management rights.
He and his team are the only experts in Queensland that truly specialise in both of these areas of law.
The rationale for this is the belief that when there are issues in dispute, it helps enormously (from a legal, strategic and commercial position) to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and views of the other party. It creates the opportunity to make commercially sensible suggestions to enable the resolution of all issues in dispute. Acting for only one side of an industry (particularly if vociferously so) prevents that.
On the more public front, Frank is a very active speaker and thought leader. In the management rights field, he regularly presents to all of those associated with the management rights industry from industry financiers to first time buyers. From a body corporate perspective, he presents to many body corporate managers and lot owners at almost any gathering, including seminar series with the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management on strata law reform. In 2018 he started writing a regular column on body corporate issues for the Sunday Mail, Queensland's biggest selling newspaper.
In recent times, he has also become more formally involved with the legal profession. He is a member of the Queensland Law Society (QLS) property law committee and has presented at the annual QLS property law conference on strata title issues in 2015 and 2016. Frank has also presented the strata title session at the annual QLS symposium (the peak lawyer’s professional conference in Queensland) in 2016 and 2017 and also the session on bodies corporate at the Gold Coast legal symposium in 2016. He has been the panel lawyer for the Queensland strata law round-up at the bi-annual national Griffith University strata title conference for the last four years.
Frank is a fellow of the Australian College of Community Lawyers, is admitted in Queensland, New South Wales, the High Court of Australia as well as England and Wales. He is also one of the few panel lawyers to ARAMA, the peak management rights body.
Recently, Frank was included in the "Best Lawyers List 2018/19'' as a leading lawyer in real property law.
Frank is very down to earth and is widely respected for being able to distil what can be complex issues down to simple propositions. The team that works with him at Hynes Legal is driven by the same ethos. They are all very direct and very practical.
On the social side, he is a happily married father of gorgeous little princess and would happily spend every minute of his waking life on a golf course if the opportunity presented itself - but a legal career (and a mortgage) tends to get in the way. Part of his community involvement is as a director of the RQ foundation, the not for profit arm of the Royal Queensland Golf Club.
There are very few strata issues Frank has not seen in 25 years plus of practice.
Areas of practice
- Body corporate law
- Manufactured homes
- Management rights
- Property projects
- Bachelor of Laws, Queensland University of Technology
- Admitted as a solicitor in the Supreme Courts of Queensland, New South Wales, England & Wales and the High Court of Australia
- Acting in the purchase of some of the biggest management rights businesses in Australia, including notable buildings such as:
- M on Mary (existing corporate – 367 lots);
- Hamilton Harbour 1 and 2 (off the plan permanent – 475 lots);
- Chelsea Bowen Hills (off the plan permanent – 195 lots);
- Madison Heights (off the plan permanent – 303 lots);
- Turtle Beach 1 and 2 (existing holiday – 295 lots);
- Mosaic (off the plan permanent and off the plan hotel – 212 lots and 41 rooms respectively);
- Ocean Plaza and Points North (existing holiday – 300 + lots); and
- Varsity Apartments (existing student – 128 lots).
These matters contained issues such as mixed use commercial and residential issues, volumetric titling, GST and going concern issues, NRAS and negotiation of clawback arrangements along with all other usual due diligence issues.
- Preparing partnership agreements for many buildings (some mentioned above) with from two to up to 15 partners.
- Acting and managing upwards of 30 individual management rights transactions at any given time. These include a range of off-the-plan and completed projects as well as existing permanent, corporate let and holiday let complexes. Our team acts for several major unlisted industry groups that have portfolios of more than ten complexes each.
- Acting for receivers appointed by secured financiers to distressed management rights assets in relation the recovery of the value of the asset
- Recommended legal provider to a number of large bodies corporate – including Hope Island and Sanctuary Cove (regulated by the Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980 and the Integrated Resort Development Act 1987).
- Advising hundreds of bodies corporate on a range of issues from cabling for new information technology infrastructure to easement disputes and management rights issues (amongst other things). Some notable matters we have acted on include:
- At Surfers Palms North, we managed to have an adjudicator in the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management order the appointment of an administrator to a body corporate committee. This was based solely on their conduct with respect to our client, the resident manager, and was the first time in Queensland this had occurred.
- At Tennyson Reach, we acted for the body corporate in securing urgent approval to raise a special levy of $3 million and convene a general meeting on 7 days (instead of 21 days) notice, as well as approval to spend $1 million of monies pending the approval of the body corporate as a result of the January 2011 floods. This was the first time this had occurred in Queensland.
- At Noosa Blue, we acted for a body corporate against a receiver to negotiate significant commercial concessions in relation to the existing management rights arrangements.
- Acting for a body corporate in circumstances where the QFRS had issued certain statutory notices relating to alleged fire safety defects in the building, fundamentally arising out of concerns over whether it was a class 2 building being used for class 3 purposes. We have also been involved in numerous disputes arising out of the class 2 / class 3 issue, particularly where they involved a dispute with a resident manager undertaking short term letting in a class 2 building.
- At Tennyson Reach we advised the body corporate on the mechanism to assign their rights to pursue an insurer for a disclaimed insurance claim to Mirvac for the purposes of Mirvac pursuing the insurer in its own right.
- At Aarons, we acted for a developer to control the nominations to committee positions of their representatives of a largely owned strata building. This was challenged, and our view was upheld on appeal. The BCCM Act was changed in 2008 as a result.
- We acted for a group of disgruntled owners at Viridian Residences to overturn an approval of certain works otherwise approved at general meeting.
- Australian Resident Accommodation Managers' Association
- Strata Community Association (Queensland)
- Fellow - Australian College of Community Association Lawyers (ACCAL)
- Queensland Law Society