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Dispute resolution

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Susan Goodman - Ashurst
    • David Jenaway - Allen & Overy
    • Matthew McCarthy - Allens
    • Kate Meikle - Gilbert + Tobin
    • Edmond Park - Clayton Utz

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Dispute resolution clients in Australia using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


The ‘exceptional’ team at Allens is ‘commercially focused, cost-aware and one of the most responsive, knowledgeable teams in the market’. It handles disputes across a wide range of areas, such as regulatory investigations, tax, projects, competition and corporate crime. Ross Drinnan heads the practice; he and Richard Harris advised KPMG on various proceedings concerning high-profile corporate collapses, including a class action and liquidators’ examinations. The widely respected Guy Foster is very active: he represented QBE Insurance Group in a shareholder class action regarding its continuous disclosure obligations, and acted for Allianz on the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)’s industry-wide review into the sale of add-on insurance products through motor dealers. Paul Nicols advised Charter Hall as plaintiff and defendant in two proceedings regarding delays to the completion of the development project at 333 George Street, Sydney, while energy and mining specialist Kim Reid acted for Rio Tinto in proceedings concerning royalties from and shares in the Hope Downs iron ore project. ‘True team leader’ Peter O’Donahoo is ‘a litigator of vast experience, and automatically brings a strategic approach to every question’; Belinda Thompson and Tony Kuhn are also recommended, as is Andrea Martignoni for international arbitration. Matthew McCarthy is a managing associate to watch.

With excellent strength in depth and international capabilities, the department at Ashurst’s ‘large, flexible’ and ‘very commercial’ practice provides ‘prompt, first-class service’, and is ‘very switched on to the practicalities of modern litigation and alternative dispute resolution’. Practice head Mark Elvy advised Crown in a challenge brought by Millers Point Fund regarding planning approval for a new hotel in Barangaroo. Financial services disputes expert Mark Bradley, who also often handles energy and infrastructure disputes, defended Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in three class actions (involving 170,000 claimants and A$223m-worth of claims) regarding allegedly unfair bank fees. James Marshall, Adrian Chai and Wen-Ts’ai Lim acted for the deed administrators of Griffin Energy Group in proceedings brought by Lanco Infratech regarding allegedly misleading conduct around the sale of Griffin Coal in 2010. Georgia Quick is recommended for construction and infrastructure disputes, and Peter Voss counts energy, natural resources and infrastructure disputes as specialisms. The ‘strategic, commercialAndrew Carter, who is ‘technically outstanding, very hardworking, hands-on and on top of the detail’, is highly regarded in the market; international arbitration expert Jeremy Chenoweth and class actions and indemnity specialist John Pavlakis are also recommended. At a more junior level, ‘committed, practical’ senior associate Susan Goodman is ‘totally reliable, and capable of running large and complex matters’.

The ‘outstanding, efficient and commercial’ team at Clayton Utz handles international arbitration and class actions as well as traditional and complex litigation; financial services, energy, natural resources and government representation are particular areas of activity. Competition litigation is another strength: practice head Nicholas Mavrakis successfully defended Nexans in proceedings launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding an alleged global cartel of electric cable providers. Ross McInnes is ‘a pleasure to work with’; he and Scott Grahame advised Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) on compensating customers for inappropriate advice following its Open Advice Review programme. Sid Wang acted for Tenix Holdings in a dispute regarding the sale of a large defence contracting conglomerates; this involved A$100m-worth of claims against two Lloyds of London insurance syndicates. ‘Exceptional’ Brisbane-based partner Mark Waller is ‘valued for his technical expertise and commercial acumen’; ‘he and his team are unbelievably fast and responsive’. Nick Cooper and Fred Prickett, based in Perth and Melbourne respectively, are also recommended. In February 2017, Paul Fontanot, a chartered accountant and licensed forensic investigator, joined the Sydney office from Ernst & Young, launching the firm’s forensics practice; he is frequently active in contentious matters. Senior associate Edmond Park is one to watch.

Noted for its ‘exceptional knowledge, expertise and service’, Herbert Smith Freehills’ ‘exemplary’ practice is ‘well resourced, well connected’ and has ‘real strategic acumen’. Practice head Luke Hastings is ‘a true business partner, with a thorough understanding of the financial regulatory landscape’; he and several other partners, including Anna Sutherland, Andrew Eastwood and Jacqueline Wootton, are acting for a global investment bank and senior individuals in other institutions regarding ASIC’s investigation of the allegedly manipulated bank bill swap rate (BBSW) setting process. Wootton is noted for her ‘deep technical proficiency, forensic rigour and practicality’. Perth-based construction disputes expert Dan Dragovic acted for Samsung C&T in various disputes concerning two subcontracts worth billions of Australian dollars. Brenda Horrigan is the key partner for international arbitration; she is supported by Elizabeth Macknay and the ‘very committed, pragmatic’ Leon Chung. In class actions, the ‘strategic, client-focused’ Damian Grave (who has ‘exceptional industry knowledge’) and the ‘hardworking, strategic’ Jason Betts (who has ‘unbeatable technical knowledge’) are ‘clear industry leaders’. Other key disputes partners are Ken Adams and tax and securities expert Cameron Hanson. Managing partner Juliana Warner is also active in the space.

Regulatory investigations, class actions, complex litigation and international arbitration are areas of strength for King & Wood Mallesons’ ‘first-class, strategic’ practice. ‘Completely spectacular’ group head Peter Pether is a construction disputes expert: he acted for the CPB Contractors joint venture on various upstream and downstream disputes relating to the A$1.9bn Royal Adelaide Hospital project. Chris Fox defended ENGIE in criminal proceedings regarding the 2014 fire at the Hazelwood coal mine in Victoria, while Alexander Morris represented NAB in civil penalties proceedings brought by ASIC regarding alleged BBSW manipulation, and in ASIC’s investigation into insider trading and market misconduct. For tax disputes, the ‘proactive, responsive and commercial’ Jerome Tse and Michael Clough (‘a real stand-out in the local and international market’) are recommended; both have ‘impressive knowledge of the energy and natural resources sector’. The ‘strategic, thoughtful’ Moira Saville is ‘an expert in class actions and regulatory issues’, and Domenic Gatto, who is increasingly active in energy and natural resources, is noted for his ‘insight into difficult problems, quick analysis of complex issues, and tenacity in the face of adversity’. Other names to note include Roger Forbes, Michael Lundberg, Justin McDonnell and arbitrator Alex Baykitch. Commercial litigator and international arbitrator Max Bonnell left to join White & Case LLP’s Sydney office in October 2017. Daisy Mallett, who specialises in investment treaty arbitration, made partner in the same month.

Arnold Bloch Leibler’s ‘efficient’ team, which counts insolvency and class actions as particular strengths, provides ‘outstanding customer service’, ‘succinctly understands complex matters’ and ‘readily accommodates meetings requested at short notice’. Practice head Leon Zwier, who is renowned for his expertise in restructuring and insolvency, defended Slater and Gordon in a shareholder class action regarding its alleged failure to adhere to disclosure obligations. The ‘extremely professional, hardworking, efficient and courteous’ Alex King advised corporate advisory group Grant Samuel & Associates as cross-respondent in a class action brought against OZ Minerals by one of Zinifex’s former shareholders. The ‘strategic, analytical and articulate’ Kevin Frawley is a construction disputes expert. Justin Vaatstra is also recommended, as are Sydney partners Jonathan Milner and John Mitchell.

Baker McKenzie handles a wide range of dispute resolution, including class actions. Mark Chapple defended AECOM Australia in a class action concerning its alleged negligence regarding the traffic forecasts it made for the Clem Jones Tunnel in Brisbane; over A$2bn was being claimed. Practice head Alex Wolff is a commercial and regulatory litigator with experience in insolvency, competition, insurance and property law; he acted for the ACCC in enforcement proceedings against Medibank after the latter changed certain benefits it was paying to members without informing them. Andrew Salgo represented Unilever Australia in proceedings against Beiersdorf regarding the latter’s allegedly misleading conduct during its sale of a certain anti-perspirant. TMT and cybersecurity specialist Paul Forbes, finance and insolvency expert David Walter and corporate regulatory specialist Georgie Farrant are also recommended. Jo Delaney is the group’s international arbitrator.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s ‘brilliant’ practice, which is led by James Whittaker, handles complex, high-value litigation and class actions, as well as representing the Australian government on contentious matters. The ‘whip-smartMark Wilks has ‘experience that spans insolvency and commercial litigation and class actions, from the defendant and the plaintiff side’; he defended Hancock Prospecting in a dispute regarding ownership of certain mining assets worth a total of A$10bn. Simon Johnson acted for eBay International in litigation arising from an alleged multimillion-dollar fraud by a former senior executive. Chris Pagent, who counts class actions, property disputes and product liability claims as key strengths, ‘communicates succinctly and effectively’; the Department of Health is a client of his. The ‘highly knowledgeable, experienced and strategicShaun Baileythinks outside the box’, and is especially strong in construction disputes. The ‘calm, prompt, responsive and highly knowledgeableAnna Ross is ‘ready and able to deal with anything’ and brings ‘a holistic approach to very complex areas of law’; Bronwyn Lincoln, Stan Lewis and Brad Woodhouse are also recommended.

Noted for its ‘strategic approach’ and ‘timely, well-considered advice’, Gilbert + Tobin’s ‘good-humoured’ practice is active in a variety of high-profile contentious matters. The ‘dynamic, practical, strategic and detail-orientedKate Harrison, who heads the Sydney practice, is singled out for her ‘brilliant intellect and capacity for undertaking massive workloads’. She assisted the Attorney General’s Department with conducting the public inquiry into the mistreatment of juveniles in detention centres in the Northern Territory. The ‘very diligentCrispian Lynch, who is ‘impressive in negotiations’, acted for Lowe’s Companies in its dispute with Woolworths regarding the unwinding of their A$3.6bn joint venture. Janet Whiting, who heads the Melbourne practice, acted for Geoffrey Bainbridge, a shareholder in Grill’d, in an oppression action against a majority shareholder. The ‘attentive, strategic and results-orientedAndrew Floro is ‘analytical, calm in a crisis’ and has ‘the gut instinct of a great litigator’; Steven Glass, Colleen Platford and Perth-based partners Tim O’Leary and Marshall McKenna are also recommended. At a more junior level, associate Kate Meikle is ‘a great litigator’.

Commercial litigation, class actions and insolvency are the key strengths of Johnson Winter & Slattery’s department. Group head Paul Buitendag represented PKF Melbourne as liquidators of Australian Property Custodian Holdings, and PPB Advisory as liquidators of Gunns Group, in separate insolvency proceedings worth hundreds of millions of Australian dollars in aggregate. Competition and consumer protection expert Aldo Nicotra acted for Prysmian Group in civil penalty proceedings brought by the ACCC concerning an alleged cartel of electric cable providers. Consultant Tony Johnson represented Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust in proceedings against its former auditors and lawyers regarding alleged professional negligence and misleading conduct. The practice’s contentious insolvency capabilities were strengthened by the arrival of Joseph Scarcella from Ashurst in March 2017. Paul Reidy heads the commercial litigation group; also recommended are Robert Johnston, Chris Connor, Tom Jarvis and Perth-based Richard Lilly as well as Adelaide-based Ben Renfrey.

Jones Day’s practice is based across Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, where the key partners are John Emmerig, Simon Bellas and John Cooper respectively. Class actions, major insolvencies and disputes for high-profile corporates are key strengths: John Emmerig defended Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb against a claim by the Australian government concerning losses incurred by originator pharmaceutical companies using patent rights to prevent generics from coming to market. He also represented IBM in litigation against the Australian government regarding the failure of the Australian Census website project on census day. Tim L’Estrange acted for the Insurance Commission of Western Australia as creditor in numerous proceedings concerning the collapse of Bell Group. Stephen McComish and Steven Fleming, based in Perth and Sydney respectively, are also recommended.

The ‘commercial, strategic’ team at Minter Ellison is active in a wide range of areas, including defending well-known but confidential clients against regulatory investigations, and handling class actions. Practice head Ross Freeman defended Billabong International in a class action regarding breaches of disclosure obligations, and advised Computer Sciences on its investigation into fraudulent contracts between subsidiary company ServiceMesh and CBA. Tom Fletcher, who specialises in energy, natural resources, construction and real estate disputes, is ‘great in very complex litigation over a sustained period’; he acted for Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal in disputes regarding construction and equipment supply packages, involving claims of around A$700m. Class actions expert David Taylor arrived from Herbert Smith Freehills in June 2017; also recommended are Beverley Newbold, Michelle Power, Caitlin Murray and Kevin Stewart. Ann Donohue left to take up a non-legal position in December 2016, before joining Norton Rose Fulbright as a litigation partner ten months later.

Allen & Overy LLP’s ‘friendly, diligent’ department provides ‘timely advice’ with ‘strong commercial acumen’. The Perth-based Mark van Brakel, who is ‘easy to work with’, defended Oilex against a A$14m financial misconduct lawsuit brought by Zeta Resources. Michael Shepherd represented Lanco Infratech in bringing an A$800m claim against the administrators of Griffin Coal alleging failures to disclose information about Griffin’s assets; Shepherd also frequently handles class actions. ‘Very experienced’ practice head John Samaha ‘acts quickly and manages his smoothly-run team well’; he successfully defended Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and CIMB against one of Primary Healthcare’s shareholders accusing the banks of misconduct during a capital raising. Jason Gray and Peter McDonald are also recommended; ‘exceptional’ senior associate David Jenaway is ‘intelligent, hardworking and personable’.

Especially strong in energy, mining and shipping, Clifford Chance Australia’s ‘diligent, commercially astute’ practice is noted for its international capabilities, often exemplified by its impressive international arbitration work. The group is led by Diana Chang and Ben Luscombe, who are based in Sydney and Perth respectively. The ‘measured, savvy, strategic’ Chang and Tim Grave acted for S&P Global in numerous class actions regarding ratings it assigned to various synthetic collateralised debt obligations. ‘Superb, motivated and hardworking’ commercial litigator Angela Pearsall counts financial services as a sector strength; she defended Deloitte in proceedings brought by the liquidators of Hastie Group regarding audit procedure breaches. Sam Luttrell has ‘excellent technical knowledge, particularly in investor-state arbitration’. Jenni Hill is also recommended in Perth.

DLA Piper’s ‘considerably supportive’ department has ‘great depth of legal knowledge’ and ‘a genuine understanding of broader commercial and political issues’. Gitanjali Bajaj, Richard Edwards and the ‘outstandingLiam Prescott (in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane respectively) are recommended for international arbitration, a distinguishing strength of the practice. ‘Sharp, responsive and readily available’ group head Rani John is ‘incisive, tenacious and pragmatic’; she counts the International Olympic Committee and one of the four major Australian banks as clients. The team changed significantly in late 2016 and early 2017: though it lost four insurance litigators, it saw financial services expert Jonathon Ellis, insolvency specialist Ryan Hennessey and mining and energy experts Tom Ritchie and Shane Murphy arrive from Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, McCullough Robertson and Herbert Smith Freehills respectively. All four are special counsels.

The ‘depth of experience’ of Norton Rose Fulbright’s team, which counts insurance, energy, infrastructure, insolvency and competition as key strengths, helps clients ‘navigate complex issues’. Department head Peter Cash acted for Stonewall Resources in arbitration against Shandong Qixing Iron Tower regarding the former’s sale of Stonewall Mining to the latter. Christine Small advised a group of five mining companies in a dispute with Aurizon Network over infrastructure agreements regarding the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal. ‘Commercial, results-focused’ class actions expert Tricia Hobson defended three former directors of QrxPharma in a shareholder class action regarding alleged regulatory non-disclosure. Also recommended are regulatory litigation specialist Grant Bonner and energy, mining and infrastructure expert Dylan McKimmie in Sydney and Perth respectively. In October 2017, the Sydney office welcomed Ann Donohue, who was a litigation partner at Minter Ellison for over 20 years. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge towards the end of 2017.

Financial services and construction litigation have been especially busy areas for Squire Patton Boggs’ ‘prompt, commercial’ team, which also has experience in class actions. Multi-jurisdictional work is a strength of the practice: Avendra Singh represented the Fiji Road Authority in various contract disputes, including one against MWH New Zealand. Brendan Reilly acted for Dalian Huarui Heavy Industry Group in international arbitration concerning a construction contract with a Spanish company for the Roy Hill iron ore mine project. Amanda Banton, Cris Cureton and Graeme Slattery are the partners to contact in Sydney, Darwin and Perth respectively; Perth-based arbitrator Greg Steinepreis is also recommended.

Clyde & Co LLP’s practice is well known for its strength in insurance, projects and trade litigation; it also handles class actions and – especially in the construction space – international arbitration. Jenni Priestley defended Apache, and represented it in a counterclaim, regarding the sale to Apache of Pankaj and Radhika Oswal’s shares in the Burrup ammonia plant. Practice head John Edmond is dual qualified in Australia and the UK. Other clients include AXA, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and CPB Contractors. Jonathan Wyatt, who specialises in marine insurance, professional indemnity and D&O liability, arrived in the Perth office from Sparke Helmore Lawyers in May 2017.

Australian banks, government agencies, property companies and fund managers comprise most of the client base of Gadens Lawyers’ department. The team also acts for blue-chip corporates: Simon Theodore acted for Tabcorp Holdings in a contract dispute regarding sporting information given to the media and non-Tabcorp bookmakers. Nicholas McKenzie-McHarg represented Wantagong Farms as plaintiff in its successful assertion of ownership of a A$16m cattle stud property in New South Wales. Other clients include Polytrade, Aurora Funds Management and Vicinity Centres. Joint group leaders Patrick Walsh, Susan Forrest and Karen Thomas are based in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide respectively; Melbourne-based chief counsel Glenn McGowan QC is also recommended.

As well as handling commercial litigation and contractual disputes, Hall & Wilcox’s ‘brilliant, knowledgeable and very thorough’ department has experience in class actions and insolvency litigation. ‘Sensible, pragmatic’ group head Graydon Dowd, who has ‘a strong practice and very well rounded knowledge’, represented the non-executive directors of Banksia Securities in a shareholder class action filed on behalf of debenture holders. The ‘very smart, experienced’ and ‘calm’ Natasha Toholka is recommended for banking and finance litigation. Debtor-side restructuring and insolvency expert Adrian Lasky made partner in January 2017; Stephen Klotz and private client expert Tom McMahon are also recommended. Noel Batrouney retired in September 2017.

Though known for its strength in financial services regulatory matters, Henry Davis York’s practice is increasingly active in representing the government at federal and state levels. It acted for several senior officers from three of the major Australian banks in ASIC’s investigation into BBSW manipulation, AND Stephen Gorry – an expert in sports, media and agriculture disputes – represented RSL National in investigations into payments made to senior members of the organisation. Former practice head Jason Munstermann left for McCullough Robertson, while special counsels Rod Hawkins and Kerry Abadee moved in-house to Iris Capital and ASIC respectively. Kathy Merrick joined Gadens. Henry Davis York and Norton Rose Fulbright have announced their intention to merge towards the end of 2017.

The team at K&L Gates provides ‘prompt, pragmatic and concise advice’, and is noted for the ‘strong cooperation between partners in different locations’. Department head Tim Webster, ‘a strategic thinker and agile problem-solver’, represented James Hardie New Zealand in a class action brought by the New Zealand Ministry of Education regarding allegedly defective cladding used in school buildings by the defendant. Mark Easton, whose ‘very high legal abilities are coupled with his sensible, clever, commercial and tactical advice’, acted for Quattro Ports as plaintiff in a case against its joint venture partner Emerald Grain regarding the termination of a A$15m payment agreement. The practice’s class actions work is led out of Melbourne, largely by Mark Dobbie and John Kelly; Kelly is also an experienced arbitrator.

Though well known for its excellent work representing the government at federal, state and local level, Maddocks’ ‘reliable, responsive and on-point’ practice has well-rounded commercial litigation capabilities. The ‘smart, quick and commercialGina Wilson, who heads the department jointly with Norman Lucas, defended Lawrence and Hanson Group in proceedings brought by the ACCC in relation to an alleged cartel of electric cable providers. Lucas defended Fitch Ratings in a class action regarding the ratings it assigned to certain synthetic collateralised debt obligations before the 2007 financial crash. Other clients include La Trobe City Council and the Ching Chung Taoist Association of Hong Kong. David Laidlaw and Shaun Temby are also recommended.

Piper Alderman’s ‘extremely responsive’, ‘cost-effective’ team is strong in class actions and debt recovery as well as having broad commercial litigation capabilities. The ‘highly experienced, tactically astute’ Gordon Grieve is ‘an outstanding practitioner’; he and Greg Whyte acted for DIF III Global Co-Investment Fund on its recovery of a failed investment in the acquisition of a US-listed company. ‘Very experienced, practical litigator’ Simon Morris, who heads the group, is ‘a safe pair of hands’; he represented David Kerr, an additional trustee for covenant-holders in the SEAS Sapfor Timber Scheme, in a A$50m compensation claim for losses suffered by covenant-holders as a result of one of the trustees’ professional negligence. Florian Ammer, who provides ‘exceptional advice’ and ‘rapidly gains knowledge of less familiar topics’, is recommended for contract and restraint disputes and class actions. ‘Very experienced litigator’ Michele Kramer is ‘impressive at delving into the facts and anticipating the consequences of every nuance’. In November 2017, Piper Alderman merged with Melbourne-based firm Norton Gledhill, welcoming commercial litigator Leneen Forde to the team.

The team at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP is well known for its expertise in commercial litigation. Managing partners Michelle Fox and Michael Mills defended Arup in proceedings brought by the receivers of BrisConnections regarding Arup’s “traffic patronage” forecast for the bid for the plaintiff’s proposed Airport Link toll-road. Beau Deleuil acted for Aurizon Network in a case against various customers of Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network regarding the customers’ non-payment of certain fees. Duncan Watson, who splits his time between the Sydney and Hong Kong offices, is recommended for international arbitration; Damian Scattini is recommended for class actions.

The litigators to contact at Sydney-based firm Atanaskovic Hartnell are name partner John Atanaskovic and commercial litigator Michael Sophocles. The team acted for WIN in litigation against Nine Network regarding broadcast rights the latter allegedly granted to WIN. Other clients have included Seven West Media, Glencore and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Dentons’ ‘very responsive, practical and commercial’ team has broad commercial litigation capabilities, and is increasingly handling class actions on the plaintiff side as well as on the defendant side. The ‘very strategically adept, client-friendly’ John Dalzell and the ‘technically strong’ Ben Allen represented almost 400 claimants in and around Williamtown in a class action relating to alleged land contamination at the Williamtown RAAF base. The ‘flexible and approachable’ Dalzell, who has access to ‘a broad network of connections’, also acted for Greyhound Racing New South Wales throughout the Special Commission of Inquiry into greyhound racing in the state. ‘Very sensible, practical’ banking and finance litigator Louise Massey heads the group; Lisa Wright is also recommended.

The ‘outstanding’ team at Deutsch Miller is noted for being small but powerful; Shane Anderton and ‘judicious, cost-conscious’ name partner Mark Deutsch are ‘excellent commercial litigators’. Deutsch, who is especially strong in equity, corporate and property disputes, acted for Ms. Hope Rinehart Welker in various disputes at federal and state court level regarding Hancock Prospecting Group and separate private matters. Anderton, a contentious regulatory specialist, defended a former ANZ employee against 64 insider trading charges. He also represented BNP Paribas in a claim against ANZ for damages following Arrium Group’s insolvency. Other clients of the practice include V8 Supercars, Linfield Developments and Addenbrooke.

DibbsBarker’s ‘flexible, reliable, extremely responsive’ and ‘very pragmatic’ department is especially strong in acting for banks, and often handles contentious reputational risk matters. ‘Smart, switched-on, totally approachable’ practice head Scott Guthrie defended Rural Bank against a A$700,000 claim brought by a property purchaser alleging the bank was reneging on a financing contract. ‘Commercially pragmatic’ insolvency expert John Stragalinos arrived in December 2016 from Corrs Chambers Westgarth, followed by special counsel Silvana Larobina from the same firm three months later. Mark Addison is also recommended.

HFW’s ‘personable, extremely professional’ department is ‘impressively flexible’; when it comes to multi-jurisdictional work, ‘time differences, varied jurisdictions and cultural issues are handled with skill and efficiency’. The group’s key sector strengths are shipping and aviation, construction, insurance, energy and commodities. ‘Highly experienced, no-nonsense’ practice head Nick Longley, who ‘instils confidence that issues will be handled with the utmost professionalism and care’, specialises in construction litigation; he acted for engineering contractor Georgiou Group in a case regarding its liability for delays and variations. Insurance expert Richard Jowett, who has experience in class actions, is also recommended; Gavin Vallely, Matthew Blycha and Andrew Dunn are other names to note.

The ‘extremely competent, dedicated’ team at Jackson McDonalddelivers cost-effective results’. Anthony Bereyne and Darren Pratt are ‘talented, motivated and hardworking’; Bereyne defended Karara Mining against a claim brought by a contractor regarding extra costs incurred by alleged changes to the scope of its work on a water pipeline construction project. Neil Gentilli represented Westgem Investments in bringing damages claims against the former financiers of Westgem Investments, which went into liquidation. Restructuring and insolvency expert Victoria Butler heads the practice; Richard Sandover, a litigator with particular experience in contract, property development and planning law, is also recommended.

Particularly well known for its insurance litigation capabilities, Kennedys’ practice is led by Patrick George, who assisted Helen Liu with successfully obtaining preliminary discovery of documents from newspaper The Age to identify the sources for articles suggesting she was guilty of bribery and spying. Raylee Hartwell acted for CGU as cross-respondent in a case regarding traffic volume forecasting work conducted in 2006 on behalf of the owner-operators of Brisbane’s Clem Jones Tunnel. Rebekah Giles, Penny Taylor and Veronica Chapman are also recommended. Sports industry litigator and arbitrator Tony O’Reilly and construction and insurance specialist Helena Golovanoff left for Kemp Strang and Holding Redlich respectively.

Real estate, financial services, insolvency and contentious regulatory work are the key strengths of Lander & Rogers’ practice. Tean Kerr acted for First State Super in a case against Bankstown Airport regarding the ownership of land adjoining the airport, following First State Super’s acquisition of Bankstown Airport. The team also often acts for public bodies: property litigation expert Grant Levy defended the City of Yarra against a claim brought by the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board for A$15m arising from the alleged contamination of land formerly owned by the city. Greg McKenzie heads the group; Johnathan Quilty, Andrew Forbes, Louise Nixon and insolvency specialist Lily Nguyen are also recommended.

McCullough Robertson’s ‘efficient, effective and exceptionally responsive’ practice is commended for its ‘practical, honest approach’. Agribusiness, construction and natural resources disputes are the department’s core strengths; Peter Stokes, who ‘seamlessly instructs large teams and gets the best out of all his lawyers’, acted for Adani Mining in arbitration against John Holland involving A$100m-worth of claims regarding delays and changes to the Abbot Point Coal Terminal in northern Queensland. Guy Humble heads the group; ‘outstanding communicator’ Russell Thirgood, restructuring and insolvency specialist Scott Butler and regulatory expert Tim Case are also recommended. Arbitrator Khory McCormick, an expert in energy, natural resources and infrastructure, joined as a consultant from Minter Ellison in July 2017.

Construction contracts, automotive manufacturing and defending superannuation funds against pension claims are areas of particular activity for Thomson Geer’s department, which is headed by Harold Werksman. Construction litigation specialist Andrew Kelly represented Civil Mining & Construction in bringing a A$15m claim against Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal regarding variations and delays to the project. Other clients include Brambles Australia, Chemtura, Adelaide Brighton, United Petroleum and the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board. Stephen Voss is recommended for automotive litigation; Claire Gitsham is the superannuation specialist. Sonya Parsons and construction litigator Simon Ralton made partner in July 2017.

The size of Webb Henderson’s three-partner practice belies its excellent capabilities, especially in securities class actions and competition litigation. Reay McGuinness is ‘a pleasure to work with’ and ‘one of the best lawyers around’ – he ‘gets to the heart of the matter more quickly than anyone else, and his predictions are uncannily accurate’. He is particularly noted for his ‘deep, deep experience in class actions, where he never pulls his punches’. His clients include Broadspectrum, Network Ten and AIG Australia. McGuinness heads the practice jointly with competition specialist Andrew Christopher; Christopher and Tom Bridges acted for the ACCC in a claim against Reckitt Benckiser alleging misleading conduct. Senior associate Michelle Gray is ‘sharp and wise beyond her years’.

Class actions

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: class actions
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Helen Mould - Herbert Smith Freehills

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Class actions clients in Australia using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Though especially strong in representing financial institutions, including major banks and accounting firms, Ashurst’s practice also acts for the Australian government in high-profile cases. John Pavlakis defended the Commonwealth in a A$100m class action concerning its liability for the equine influenza outbreak in 2007. Pavlakis and financial services regulatory litigator Ian Bolster defended KPMG in a class action brought by the shareholders of Allco Finance Group regarding alleged non-disclosure, while Deloitte instructed department head Mark Elvy in proceedings regarding its alleged negligence and deceptive conduct as auditor of Tamaya Resources, which went into liquidation. Mark Bradley and consultant Ashley Wharton successfully defended Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in three related class actions regarding its imposition of a range of particular fees. Tony Ryan is recommended for insolvency-related class actions. Fiona Hudgson left for the Bar in January 2017.

The ‘supreme class actions defence team’ at Herbert Smith Freehills is ‘highly experienced, thorough, precise and committed’, and has longstanding experience in shareholder, securities, product liability and natural disaster class actions. The ‘strategic, client-focused’ Damian Grave has ‘exceptional industry knowledge’ and is ‘a clear industry-leader in class actions’, while ‘strategic, technically knowledgeable, tremendously hardworking’ product liability expert Jason Betts ‘distils complex legal issues into comprehensible terms’, and has ‘an exceptional approach to risk management’. Grave and Betts represented OZ Minerals in a securities class action regarding alleged breaches of securities laws during the merger that created OZ Minerals; the A$250m claim was eventually settled for A$33m. Ken Adams and Ruth Overington defended AusNet Services in a class action alleging it breached its duty to prune trees near one of its powerlines, thus causing the 2014 bushfire near Mickleham, Victoria. Alan Mitchell is ‘an exceptionally knowledgeable, very personable’ insolvency expert; Peter Holloway is a ‘strategic’ insurance specialist. Ante Golem and banking and finance litigator Cameron Hanson are also recommended. At the more junior level, ‘exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced’ executive counsel Helen Mould is ‘very easy to deal with’.

With experience across all kinds of class action, King & Wood Mallesons’ department represents well-known clients in high-profile disputes. Justin McDonnell and Chris Fox are recommended for product liability and natural disaster class actions; McDonnell defended Queensland state dam authority Seqwater in a A$2bn class action concerning the 2011 Brisbane floods – one of the largest class actions in the country’s history. Domenic Gatto, who is increasingly active in the energy and natural resources space, is noted for his ‘insight into difficult problems, quick analysis of complex issues, and tenacity in the face of adversity’; he acted for IOOF Holdings in preventing a class action regarding alleged insider trading. Alexander Morris and ‘strategic, thoughtful’ group head Moira Saville specialise in financial services and securities class actions; ‘proactive, thoughtful and knowledgeable’ competition specialist Peta Stevenson provides ‘timely client support’.

Market-leading’ plaintiff-side class actions boutique Maurice Blackburn Lawyers handles a high volume of high-profile class actions spanning securities, shareholder rights, natural disasters, competition and product liability. Jason Geisker and group head Andrew Watson launched proceedings against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda regarding the well-publicised diesel emissions defeat device scandal. Ben Slade and special counsel Richard Ryan acted for the investors in the Clem Jones Tunnel in a class action against AECOM regarding the latter’s allegedly misleading traffic forecasts for the tunnel; the case settled for A$121m. Vavaa Mawuli brought a class action against Seqwater, Sunwater and the State of Queensland alleging negligent operation of the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams during the 2011 Brisbane floods. The practice also brought a shareholder class action against Slater and Gordon that was eventually settled for A$33m. Rebecca Gilsenan is an expert in price-fixing, failed investment schemes, product liability and securities class actions; Brooke Dellavedova is also recommended.

The ‘exceptional’ group at Allens is ‘commercially focused, cost-aware and au fait with large-scale litigation’ across financial services, product liability, natural disasters, competition and shareholder rights. Jenny Campbell and practice head Ross Drinnan defended Westpac in three class actions regarding certain bank fees; the bank also instructed the team in a case brought by a group of US plaintiffs regarding alleged misconduct in the Australian bank bill market. Campbell and the ‘market-leading’ Guy Foster acted for QBE Insurance Group in a class action regarding alleged non-disclosure of a profit downgrade. Other clients include CIMIC and Ford Motor Company of Australia. The ‘vastly experienced’ Peter O’Donohoo ‘approaches every issue strategically’, and the ‘detail-oriented’ Andrew Maher shows ‘an amazing command of complex matters’. Belinda Thompson, Paul Nicols and Duncan Travis are also recommended. Richard Harris left to join Gilbert + Tobin.

Clayton Utz fields four partners that spend most of their time on class actions; product liability claims are a particular strength, though the practice also has a strong track record in financial services, shareholder and securities class actions. Colin Loveday and Andrew Morrison defended Johnson & Johnson in proceedings relating to side effects brought about by a range of products used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, while Greg Williams acted for Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda in a class action regarding the well-publicised diesel emissions defeat device scandal. In the financial services space, Ross McInnes defended Citibank in a high-profile class action relating to allegedly unfair fees, including late payment and overdraft fees. The Australian government is another representative client.

The team at Norton Rose Fulbright has ‘strength in depth’, and is noted for its ‘excellent business acumen’, ‘quick response times’ and longstanding experience in the insurance sector. The ‘commercial, results-focusedTricia Hobson, who heads the group jointly with Cameron Harvey, defended Queensland state dam authority SunWater in a A$2bn class action concerning the 2011 Brisbane floods. She and the ‘thorough, technically astuteNicole Wearne represented the Australian government in a class action brought by hundreds of sailors accusing the Navy for failing to deliver on its promise of training them. The ‘strategic, calmSamantha Kelly defended the manager of the Grand Western Lodge in Millthorpe in a class action regarding the improper treatment of residents between 2000 and 2011. ‘Pragmatic, client-oriented’ product liability expert Toby Biddle pays ‘high attention to detail’. Insurance litigator Matthew Ellis made partner in January 2017. In October 2017, the Sydney office welcomed Ann Donohue, who was a litigation partner at Minter Ellison for over 20 years. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge towards the end of 2017.

Especially active in shareholder and securities class actions, Arnold Bloch Leibler’s ‘extremely professional, efficient’ team is headed by Leon Zwier, who defended Slater and Gordon in a shareholder class action regarding its alleged failure to adhere to disclosure obligations; the plaintiffs’ A$250m claim was settled for A$37m. Zwier and Susanna Ford acted for the current and former non-executive directors of Bellamy’s in shareholder class actions regarding alleged misleading conduct and breaches of disclosure obligations. Other clients include Grant Samuel & Associates and two former executive directors of Great Southern. John Mitchell and Jonathan Milner are also recommended.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s department is especially strong in securities class actions, though it also handles natural disaster class actions and mass tort claims. Brad Woodhouse and the ‘whip-smartMark Wilks, who has experience acting ‘on the defendant and the plaintiff side’, defended Australian Executor Trustees (AET) in two securities class actions following the insolvency of Provident Capital; AET was Provident’s debenture trustee. Woodhouse and James Whittaker defended maintenance contractor Thiess Services (now known as Ventia) in a class action relating to the 2014 Parkerville bushfire. CPB Contractors is another representative client. Chris Pagent is also recommended.

The team at DLA Piper is led by public liability expert Kieran O’Brien, who acted for Amaca in group proceedings to determine equitable liability relating to a partnership agreement between two asbestos manufacturers in the 1960s and ’70s. He also defended Liability Mutual Insurance in a class action against primary defendant AusNet Services relating to the 2014 bushfire near Mickleham, Victoria. Indeed, bushfire and wildfire-related matters are a key area of activity for the practice: Perth-based partner Cameron Maclean defended Western Power and its underwriter, Lloyd’s of London, in a class action alleging Western Power’s liability for a 2014 bushfire in Parkerville, Western Australia. The State of Western Australia is another of Maclean’s clients. Perth-based insurance expert Toby Barrie is also recommended.

Minter Ellison’s practice handles class actions across a wide range of sectors. ‘Highly recommended’ practice head Ross Freeman defended Billabong International in a shareholder class action regarding alleged non-disclosure and misrepresentations to the market, and acted for various current and former directors of OZ Minerals in three shareholder class actions relating to alleged breaches of securities laws during the merger that created OZ Minerals. The team also handles plaintiff work: regulatory contentious expert Andrew Gill, who has particular experience in the agribusiness and technology sectors and frequently acts on environmental and government-related cases, represented numerous cattle-export industry players – including AACo, Elders and Consolidated Pastoral – in a class action against the federal government, which banned live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011. Ann Donohue left to take up a non-legal position in December 2016, before joining Norton Rose Fulbright as a litigation partner ten months later.

Financial services are the key sector strength of Clifford Chance Australia’s team, which is headed jointly by Sydney-based partners Diana Chang, Angela Pearsall and Tim Grave. Grave and the ‘measured, savvy, strategic’ Chang defended S&P Global in numerous class actions regarding ratings it assigned to various synthetic collateralised debt obligations, while Pearsall represented Deloitte in a shareholder class action relating to Deloitte’s role as corporate finance advisor in a 2011 capital raising undertaken by Hastie Group, which went into liquidation in 2012.

Plaintiff-side expert Damian Scattini is the key class actions partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP; he is supported by Michael Mills and Michelle Fox. Shareholder class actions and public liability claims are core strengths of the Sydney-based team: Scattini acted for Petersen Superannuation Fund, as lead applicant, in a class action against the Bank of Queensland and its agent DDH Graham concerning the defendant’s negligence of suspicious transactions undertaken on the managed investment accounts of the bank’s clients.

Noted for its plaintiff-side activity and its financial services expertise, Squire Patton Boggs’ practice is led by Amanda Banton, who acted for numerous public and private group members in the high-profile class action against S&P Global regarding ratings it assigned to various synthetic collateralised debt obligations. She also represented plaintiffs including Coffs Harbour City Council in a class action against ANZ, alleging negligence and misleading conduct during its role in the sale of Credit Sail II financial instruments to the plaintiffs. Shaan Palmer, who is dual qualified in Australia and the UK, is also recommended.

Webb Henderson’s team is particularly strong in securities, competition and consumer law class actions. Securities expert Reay McGuinness is ‘a pleasure to work with’ and ‘one of the best lawyers around’ – he ‘gets to the heart of the matter more quickly than anyone else, and his predictions are uncannily accurate’. Particularly noted for his ‘deep, deep experience in class actions, where he never pulls his punches’, McGuinness acted for AIG Australia as insurer of the defendant in a shareholder class action against Allco regarding alleged breaches of non-disclosure obligations. Andrew Christopher defended Yum! Restaurants in a class action brought on behalf of over 200 Pizza Hut franchisees alleging negligence and unconscionable market conduct. ‘Commercial, sharp, super-organised’ senior associate Michelle Gray is ‘tough and wise beyond her years’.

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