As a Fast Track Adjudicator, it’s not a surprise that Chris Liamos has a strong sense of fairness, both professionally and personally.
“For me, fairness is not just about equal opportunity to be heard, although that’s a part of it. It’s more about understanding fully where both parties are coming from, and having an established approach that both parties understand. In doing so, I believe this gives them a level playing field. I try to embody this ideal at FOS, and mentor it in others, but I also carry it over into my home life too with my family.”
This sense of fairness is something Chris has developed over the course of his career. Having graduated with a double degree in law and science, majoring in mathematics, Chris began working in the legal profession in late 2000 at Hoyle Da Silva, first as a casual, and pretty quickly as a full time solicitor.
“It was a small firm, of only three to five solicitors at any one time, but it was a great environment to work in. I handled predominantly insurance work, but there was a good range within that heading, such as recoveries, public liability, insolvencies, VCAT hearings, etc.
“After six years there, I left as a Senior Associate, mostly because I was just looking for a bit of a change. At the time, the Insurance Ombudsman Service (IOS) was looking for a case manager. It grabbed my interest, as all my previous work had been about what happens long after a claim, and I thought it would be a good learning experience.
“It was much different to Hoyle’s. There were about 50 or so staff back then, with a dozen or so case managers. It was really collegiate, and just a well-settled group of people who were passionate about the work they did. It was also a distinctly older bunch of people – I was often told my arrival lowered the average age by about 20 years! But that meant I was able to gain a lot of experience from my colleagues.
“I transitioned into a legal officer role in late 2008, where I dealt with mainly jurisdictional issues. Although it was a bit drier, it gave me a really good understanding of jurisdictional issues, which I’ve found is still useful today.
“In early 2011, I transitioned internally again, to a Senior Case Manager role. I was happy to come back into dispute work, and loved the merit work we did. I also used my position as a manager to start mentoring and training others. I felt I had a well-rounded experience of disputes, and tried to impart some of my experience, as well as my ideas around fairness, on those working with me.
“After about two and a half years there, I became legal counsel for a year, before joining the Fast Track pilot as an adjudicator. At the time, it was just me and two case officers, but now the Fast Track program has grown into a full team. I like the variety of my role, where I do decisions, case conferences, member forums, approach documents, etc. And I still try to support, coach and mentor my colleagues.
“I feel it’s really important to make myself available to my colleagues to mentor them and share my experience, as it only makes us better at our jobs.’
Chris’s commitment to fairness extends beyond FOS, as well, joining with a great passion of his – soccer.
“I work with the Football Federation of Victoria (FFV) as a tribunal member. Much like the AFL tribunal, the FFV tribunal deals with red card appeals, charges of misconduct, appeals against earlier rulings, and other similar disputes. Where FOS is primarily paper-based, the FFV tribunal is based on primarily verbal statements, supplemented by written submissions. We have hearings where both parties get to produce their evidence and witnesses, and we need to decide whether to penalise someone, and what penalty to apply. I find fairness here manifests itself in two ways; firstly, in ensuring I understand the position of both parties, and secondly, in ensuring that the penalties handed down accurately reflect the breach of conduct.
“That’s something that applies to both my work in the FFV and FOS. In both instances, a fair approach to a dispute is nothing without a fair resolution, and vice-versa.”