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Australia > Competition and trade > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Competition and trade
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Simon Cooke - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Claire Forster - Norton Rose Fulbright
    • Rosannah Healy - Allens
    • Wolfgang Hellmann - Johnson Winter & Slattery
    • Elizabeth Richmond - Clayton Utz
    • Prudence Smith - Jones Day

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The ‘service is consistently excellent’ at Allens, where practice head Jacqueline Downes and Fiona Crosbie ‘have a deep understanding of the law and policies in the competition space’. In recent developments, Rosannah Healy and Robert Walker were promoted to the partnership in Melbourne, and ‘excellent communicator’ Fiona McMahon, who ‘is able to function well in a transactional environment’, was promoted to managing associate. The team handled several high-profile transactions such as advising Global Infrastructure Partners and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board on their takeover of Asciano. Kon Stellios advised Crosbie on seeking merger clearance from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on the joint venture of three Japanese shipping businesses, a matter that stands out from the firm’s recent regulatory caseload. On the contentious side, Stellios acted for PZ Cussons in civil cartel proceedings filed by the ACCC in the context of an alleged ‘hub and spoke’ cartel relating to the introduction of new laundry detergents on the Australian market. Other key names include merger clearance specialist Carolyn Oddie and John Hedge, who sits in Brisbane with particular expertise in the resources, agribusiness and infrastructure sectors.

Gilbert + Tobin’s Charles Coorey and practice head Luke Woodwardboth have phenomenal client service ethics’ and ‘the ability to see the commercial drivers very quickly and clearly apply them to the law’. Clients have recently approached the firm to handle ACCC inquiries and cartel prosecutions, as shown by Woodward and Elizabeth Avery’s advice to K Line with regards to criminal cartel proceedings pertaining to the terms offered to car manufacturers for the shipping of their goods. High-profile and high-value transactions are also at the fore of the team’s recent caseload; Gina Cass-Gottlieb was part of the team acting for Anheuser-Busch InBev in its $107bn merger with SABMiller, while the Melbourne-based Simon Muys oversaw Qube’s acquisition of the remaining 50% of Australian Amalgamated Terminals from Brookfield Infrastructure Partners and a group of local investment funds. Paula Gilardoni successfully obtained merger clearance for Caltex’s acquisition of Milemaker. Simon Snow departed the firm to pursue a career at the Bar.

The team at Herbert Smith Freehills is ‘highly experienced and organised with good relationships and access to regulators’, and is currently advising Tabcorp on its proposed merger with Tatts under the supervision of Patrick Gay, the ‘highly strategic’ Chris Jose and practice head Paul Hughes, who has ‘an outstanding understanding of the industry’. The ‘pragmatic’ Matthew Bull and acted for BHP Billiton in a price review process for a major gas transmission pipeline, while Liza Carver assisted a consortium of investors led by Brookfield Asset Management with its application to the ACCC for merger clearance to acquire Asciano’s shares alongside Qube Holdings. Daniel Preston left the firm’s Melbourne office to join the Victorian Bar.

At King & Wood Mallesons, the ‘level of service is first class – pragmatic, considered and cognisant’, and ‘the senior associates prove to be proactive, responsive and excellent in their technical legal knowledge’. National practice leader Sharon Henrick ‘knows and understands the workings of the regulator’ and draws praise from clients along with Lisa Huett, who ‘is at the top of her game and is the type of partner people proactively want to work with’. Peta Stevenson ‘stands out through her proactive insights into strategic thought leadership’. Yazaki and its Australian subsidiary engaged the firm to defend proceedings filed by the ACCC in the Federal Court based on allegations of cartel law breaches, and Caroline Coops advised Asciano on the regulatory issues arising from the combined A$9bn takeover bid by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners and the Qube Consortium. Wayne Leach ‘is strong in providing cost-effective, no-fuss commercial advice’ and oversaw the sale of Glencore’s rail haulage business in the Hunter Valley to a consortium led by Genessee & Wyoming; Andrew Monotti advised Halliburton on its ultimately abandoned merger with Baker Hughes. Stephen Ridgeway is another name to note.

Ashurst’s four-partner competition team handles transactions, investigations, prosecutions and provides regulatory advice to clients such as Coca-Cola Amatil, Mitsubishi and Samsung under the leadership of Bill Reid in Sydney. With the support of senior associate Melissa Fraser, Reid successfully defended Woolworths in unconscionable behaviour proceedings filed by the ACCC, and Ross Zaurrini led the advice to a global energy and commodities company on its bid for Woolworths’ retail petrol network in Australia. Another key name is Peter Armitage, who assisted Komatsu with securing merger clearance for its $3.7bn acquisition of Joy Global, and is currently advising a bidder on the competition issues arising from the proposed acquisition of the Darling Downs pipeline system. Other names to note are Alyssa Phillips in Brisbane and Justin Jones in Melbourne.

Clayton Utz’s competition team ‘offers excellent judgement and advice based on many years of experience’, and the lawyers ‘are hardworking, practical, efficient and easy to work with’. The Bayer-Monsanto merger features in the group’s recent caseload as Michael Corrigan, whose ‘unmatched experience and cool head’ draws praise from clients, is acting as lead Australian counsel for Monsanto. Practice head Kirsten Webb is described by one client as ‘one of Sydney’s best lawyers’ and recently advised Woolworths on an ACCC enforcement matter pertaining to alleged cartel conduct in the context of the transition to ultra-concentrate laundry detergents in Australia. Also recommended is Linda Evans, who represented Asciano in its takeover by two multinational entities. Adrian Kuti was recently promoted to special counsel and is a name to note alongside ‘rare find’ Elizabeth Richmond, who has ‘an excellent eye for detail and uses it to provide advice without losing the bigger picture’.

Mark McCowan heads Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s competition team from Sydney and advises major corporate clients on transactions and litigation matters. His ongoing counsel to longstanding client BP on its highly contested acquisition of Woolworths’ national retail petrol network and a group of development sites is a sample of his recent caseload. Richard Flitcroft, who also works from Sydney, is leading advice to Dell with regards to distribution channel, consumer law and compliance issues, and Brisbane-based Eddie Scuderi is seeking merger clearance for Aurizon for its potential takeover of Glencore Rail’s assets and contracts. Clients such as Peabody Energy, Staples and SABMiller provided some of the team’s other key recent mandates. Also noteworthy is the recently promoted special counsel Alistair Newton, who works closely with McCowan on merger investigations and telecoms regulations.

Johnson Winter & Slattery’s advice is ‘always commercially relevant, with regard for the client’s specific circumstances, and reveals a deep understanding of the law’. The ‘exceptional’ team, jointly led by John Kench and Aldo Nicotra, acts both for companies and the regulator. In recent highlights, Michele Laidlaw is advising Bayer on its proposed acquisition of Monsanto, and ‘standout performer’ Sar Katdare represented Unilever as the immunity applicant in the ACCC’s prosecution of several multinational entities such as Colgate Palmolive and Woolworths for alleged price fixing, information sharing and boycott behaviour in connection with the introduction of new compacted laundry powders into the Australian market. Special counsel Wolfgang Hellmann is qualified to practice in Australia and Germany and is also recommended alongside associate Maggie Hung.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s team is ‘client-focused, legally innovative, efficient and always prepared for court proceedings’. It is jointly led by the national head of competition and antitrust and ‘very skilled tacticianNick McHugh and Martyn Taylor, who leads the Asia Pacific telecoms and trade practices. The firm recently suffered the loss of Tom Jarvis, who took up a partner position at Johnson Winter & Slattery; however, his dispute resolution practice will be taken over by special counsel James Love in Melbourne and the ‘diligent and capable’ Claire Forster in Sydney. Macquarie engaged the team to defend a major ACCC cartel prosecution in relation to allegations of collusion in Singapore in the context of foreign exchange benchmarks, and Melbourne partner Andrew Riordan is representing the ACCC in its prosecution of an alleged cartel between the three largest laundry detergent suppliers in the Australian market. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

Acting for a client roster including names such as BHP Billiton, Asahi and DuluxGroup, Allen & Overy LLP’s team has strong litigious capacity and recently promoted Stefanie Benson to counsel in the Sydney office. In recent highlights, Peter McDonald and Michael Shepherd are representing Reckitt Benckiser in proceedings filed by the ACCC related to allegations of consumer law breaches, and on the transactional front, senior associate Felicity Day was part of the cross-practice, cross-office team advising Bradken on its proposed takeover by Hitachi. The team also acted for clients in the technology and financial services spaces, recently with regards to merger clearance for the public merger between Computer Science Corporation and the Enterprise Services segment of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Benson and McDonald advised George Weston Foods on a proposed toll manufacturing agreement under which it will manufacture bread products for Goodman Fielder in Western Australia.

Georgina Foster sits at the helm of Baker McKenzie’s competition group, which has previously acted for FedEx and the ACCC in matters pertaining to enforcement and merger clearance. In Melbourne, special counsel Helen Joyce and senior counsel Penny Ward are singled out. The firm’s litigators advise clients on civil and criminal cartel prosecutions, predatory pricing matters and class action suits.

Clifford Chance Australia’s ‘excellent and highly responsive’ Asia Pacific competition and antitrust practice is spearheaded by Dave Poddar, who ‘is skilled at setting the right tone for engagements with counterparties on difficulties issues’ and ‘has a strategic overview informed by listening to his clients’; the team has significant transactional and contentious capabilities. Poddar advised GE on the Australian competition aspects of the merger of its oil and gas business with Baker Hughes with the help of Mark Grime, who was recently promoted to senior associate; they also advised Shell on its sale of Shell Aviation Australia to Viva Energy, which followed the sale of its other downstream activities to Viva in 2014. On the regulatory side, the Menulog Group and JustEat appointed the team to oversee the ACCC’s review of their merger, and Parmalat received advice on its response to the government’s inquiry into the dairy industry. Senior associate Elizabeth Hersey joined the team from Gilbert + Tobin.

DLA Piper’s team includes practice head Simon Uthmeyer and Fleur Gibbons, who ‘has a sharp intellect and the capacity to maintain a complete view of the issues at hand’, and is ‘particularly strong in the regulatory space’. As well as acting for clients such as Pfizer, Etihad Airways and the AFL, the group regularly advises the industry regulator; special counsel and ‘extremely dedicated’ Leanne Hanna, who ‘is always prepared to go the extra mile’, took the lead on the ACCC’s prosecution in the Federal Court against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on the grounds of alleged secondary boycott conduct. Uthmeyer and senior associate Sophia Grace represented the ACCC in appeal proceedings initiated by the Port of Newcastle Operations. The firm’s recent caseload also includes merger clearance issues, high-value transactions and utility price determination resets. Other noteworthy clients are the Australian Energy Regulator, Mondelez and Toyota.

Minter Ellison’s Paul Schoff acts for clients in a vast array of industry sectors in mandates including merger clearances, enforcement and restrictive trade practices. Geoff Carter is a name to note in the Melbourne office, and Brisbane partner Justin Oliver has experience acting as head of regulatory law at the ACCC. Carter and Melbourne-based special counsel Miranda Noble advised Hitachi on the competition issues arising from its $240m acquisition of H-E Parts.

Arnold Bloch Leibler’s Zaven Mardirossian leads the competition and intellectual property offering with the support of Matthew Lees, who specialises in anti-competitive conduct investigations, merger clearance and consumer protection work as well as intellectual property issues. Lees successfully defended Fonterra, a leading dairy exporter, in an ACCC investigation relating to its announcement that it would pay farmers less for their milk and is currently assisting the client with its response to a separate inquiry into the dairy industry. Another noteworthy contentious highlight pertains to a Supreme Court Case dispute between client The Just Group and its competitor Cotton On in connection with the defection of the client’s chief financial officer to Cotton On and fears of the potential disclosure of confidential information. Senior associate David Robbins acts for clients in the fashion, online retail, manufacturing and financial services sectors. Other key clients include SEEK, Industry Super Australia and the Tasmanian Ports Corporation.

Noted by clients for its ‘excellent response times, commercial approach, appropriate advice and excellent value for money’, Bird & Bird’s Asia Pacific competition practice is led by the Sydney-based Kathryn Edghill, who has ‘great inter-personal skills’. She recently acted for Simplot in obtaining merger clearance for its acquisition of Symington’s brands, and is currently representing two individuals in an ongoing ACCC investigation into alleged cartel conduct. Special counsel Amy Cowper services clients in the technology, food and beverages and communications space and jointly advises Mazda on competition and consumer law issues arising from its operations in Australia, as well as the TJX Company following its acquisition of the Australian Trade Secrets stores. Associate Amelia Morris recently joined the firm’s Sydney office from Microsoft; however, associate Samantha Brown left for Gilbert + Tobin. Graham Maher is also recommended.

At HWL Ebsworth, Richard Westmoreland’s ‘strengths include a very extensive understanding of the law, an ability to apply knowledge to the nuances of the industry and to communicate clearly, accurately and simply’. He jointly heads the competition group from Sydney with Adelaide partner Peter Campbell and Simon Tolhurst, who sits in Brisbane. Specialising in investigation responses, the team recently represented Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha in its high-profile criminal cartel prosecution by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution based on allegations of price fixing and market sharing. Another key work highlight is the department’s involvement in the ACCC’s cartel enforcement efforts in government tendering and the health industry. Special counsel Steve Burns and solicitor Amy Campbell, who ‘is very skilled at identifying the relevant issues from large amounts of data’, are also names to note in the Sydney office. *Since publication, HWL Ebsworth and Tress Cox have merged.

Led by Nick Taylor, Jones Day’s team stands out through its ‘strong knowledge of competition regulation’. In recent developments, the group added Lucas Wilk to its ranks in Perth from Ashurst and gained Aldi, Racing Victoria and Tully Sugar as clients. Of counsel Prudence Smith’s ‘practical experience and history in this area make her a standout’; she recently advised new client Peabody on the sale of the Colleries to South32, which was eventually abandoned due to commercial reasons. On the contentious front, litigation partners Tim L’Estrange and John Emmerig handled claims relating to allegations of market manipulation and foreign currency rigging, and Steven Fleming specialises in criminal cartel matters, especially with regards to individuals.

K&L Gates’ Sydney-based practice head and recently appointed partner Ayman Guirguis is ‘easy to work with’ and showcases ‘a commercial approach with great breadth and depth of knowledge’. Guirguis advised Milemaker on the proposed sale of its retail petrol network to Caltex and was part of the team representing a major investment bank with regards to a number of investigations by the ACCC into cartel behaviour in the Australian financial services market. In terms of merger control work, a leading multinational oil and gas company appointed the team to obtain merger clearance in Papua New Guinea as part of the client’s acquisition of another transnational oil and gas player. Special counsel Lynsey Edgar left to join Dentons.

MaddocksGina Wilson recently acted for the Lawrence and Hanson Group in cartel proceedings brought against it by the ACCC. Brendan Coady heads the team from Sydney and acted as independent expert in the external compliance review of the Jewellery Group; he also advised the Competitive Carriers’ Coalition on its submission to the ACCC with regards to the inquiry into NBN Co’s proposed variation to its special access undertaking. Another key name to note in Melbourne is commercial partner Robert Gregory, who has experience in the technology, media and telecoms sectors.

Webb Henderson acts for industry players and the ACCC and recently saw its ranks bolstered by the arrival of special counsel Sarah Andrews from Addisons. Andrew Christopher heads the team with strong experience in cartel investigations and litigation, and is currently advising the Port of Newcastle Operations on its application for judicial review in the Federal Court regarding a decision made by the Competition Tribunal following a complaint lodged by a competitor; he is assisted by senior associate Diana Biscoe. The ACCC engaged the team to oversee several matters including cartel enforcement proceedings against a group of electrical cable providers and a misleading conduct claim against the Australian distributor of Nurofen products, Reckitt Benckiser. Other names to note are Ara Margossian, Angus Henderson and Tom Bridges, who continues to support Christopher in proceedings against Derek Minus and associated companies pertaining to allegations of deceptive conduct and trade mark infringement on behalf of the Australian Bar Association and the NSW Bar Association.

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