Derek Sutherland

Derek Sutherland

Special Counsel

Automotive, Corporate and Commercial, Retail and Franchising


+61 7 3169 4754

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Derek is a Special Counsel at HWL Ebsworth Lawyers and a well regarded specialist in the area of franchising law and has been a consistent contributor to the franchising sector for over 2 decades. 

He was previously a Partner at Dibbs Barker Lawyers Brisbane where he headed the Corporate Advisory Group (Brisbane) for over 5 years and was the National Head of Dibbs franchising section.

In July 2010 he established Icon Law to provide a boutique practice specialising in franchising and business law. The majority of his practice is based on clients involved in franchising, distribution and licensing. In 2012 he joined HWL Ebsworth as Special Counsel practising in the franchising division.

Derek has developed a proven reputation built on a long track record of representing a significant number of successful and well known franchisors, master franchisees, and franchisees in all areas of business.  His expertise is focussed on front end drafting of commercial documentation such as franchise agreements and disclosure documentation as well as providing advice on the application of the Code. Most recently he has made extensive personal submissions to Government to improve the provisions of the Code in the recent 2013 Review of the Franchising Code of Conduct conducted by Alan Wein. Involvement in policy development enables Derek to be at the forefront of his field. He also provides advice and strategy for franchise systems engaged in conflict.

Derek is a sought after speaker in both industry and academic settings, and he has presented extensively on legal developments in the franchising sector for over 20 years. He has, in 2013, been appointed an adjunct lecturer at Griffith University.

Derek has been named in The Australian Financial Review's Best Lawyers® in 2014 - 2016 as one of Australia's best lawyers in the Franchise Law category.


  • preparation, review and improvement of franchising documentation;
  • acquisitions, mergers, and sales of businesses and corporations;
  • distribution and channel strategies;
  • business structuring, including shareholding joint venture and partnership matters;
  • trade practices and competition law;
  • development of industry code compliance strategies;
  • advising on the interpretation and application of the Franchising Code of Conduct; and
  • business and contract disputes. 


  • LLB, Bachelor of Law
  • B Com, Bachelor of Commerce

Professional Memberships

  • ACCC Franchising Consultative Panel Committee
  • Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) (Queensland State Chapter)
  • Chair of FCA Legal Committee 
  • FCA Ethics Committee
  • Queensland Law Society Franchising Committee
  • Previously Chair of Queensland Law Society Franchising Committee
  • Law Council of Australia Small Business Law Committee