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Australia > Dispute resolution: class actions > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

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

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Liam Burgess - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Sara Dennis - Clayton Utz
    • Helen Mould - Herbert Smith Freehills

Allens stands out as 'top of the game for class actions' with 'deep experience, a first-rate team and a thorough and considered approach'. The 'top-notch' Ross Drinnan leads the practice, which handles shareholder litigation, product liability issues, financial services class actions, consumer and employee matters and environmental and disaster claims. In a recent highlight, Melbourne-based partner Belinda Thompson, who is 'a great all-rounder and very easy to deal with', acted for Ford Motor Company of Australia in class action proceedings brought by Ford vehicle owners alleging breaches of consumer guarantees and deceptive conduct claims. Other work includes defending Nissan Australia in the high-profile Takata airbag class action and acting for an insurance client in a shareholder class action. Westpac, KPMG and ANZ are also clients. Guy Foster is regarded as 'one of the best in the field' and 'consistently achieves top results', Jenny Campbell is 'always excellent' and Malcolm Stephens is an 'outstanding litigator'.

Colin Loveday and Nicholas Mavrakis jointly lead Clayton Utz's 'truly brilliant' department, which counts several high-profile global claims on its books including Greg Williams acting for five members of the Volkswagen Group in five class actions in the Federal Court relating to the alleged use of software designed to defeat testing for emission standards compliance, and Loveday and Andrew Morrison defending Johnson & Johnson and several related entities in product liability proceedings relating to polymer-based mesh implants used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. Further highlights include Fred Prickett advising Myer Holdings on a shareholder class action, Mavrakis representing Standard & Poor's in multiple proceedings relating to alleged deceptive conduct and breached duty of care to investors following its ratings of synthetic collateralised debt obligations (SCDOs) and also defending ANZ in a class action regarding bank bill swap rates. Ross McInnes and special counsel Sara Dennis are also key names to note; clients praise McInnes as 'a leading practitioner whose knowledge of the class action space is unmatched'.

Herbert Smith Freehills 'clearly stands out as a leader in the class action space' with 'an exceptional radar for understanding class action risk and how an action should be positioned' and 'a team of practitioners who are easily the best lawyers for pursuing complex litigation'. The 'incredible team' fields the 'outstanding' Damian Grave, whose 'technical expertise allows for a deep understanding of the class action regime and its nuances'; 'leading lawyer with great communication and presentation skills' Jason Betts, Ken Adams, who has 'enormous commercial acumen making him a star in the field', the 'brilliant' Ruth Overington, the 'standout banking expert' Cameron Hanson, Ante Golem and executive counsel Helen Mould. Recent highlights include defending AMP in multiple shareholder class actions relating to alleged misleading or deceptive conduct and disclosure breaches arising out of the Banking Royal Commission, acting for Cash Converters in two class actions regarding the validity of fees required for individuals to take out a loan, and defending Toyota Motor Corporation Australia in the Supreme Court of New South Wales in a class action associated with the Takata airbag product recall. Oz Minerals, CBA, Diageo and WorleyParsons are also clients.

At King & Wood Mallesons, practice head Moira Saville and Alexander Morris are specialists in securities and financial services issues, Peta Stevenson is the key contact for cartel and competition litigation, Travis Toemoe focuses on the energy and construction sectors and Justin McDonnell and Chris Fox handle public liability claims. Notable highlights for the department include Saville acting for Westpac in proceedings in the Federal Court relating to the collapse of financial advisers Storm Financial, Domenic Gatto defending IOOF Holdings in a class action following allegations of front running and insider trading, and defending Seqwater in a A$2bn class action relating to the 2011 Brisbane floods including engineering, negligence and causation issues. Senior associate Liam Burgess is also recommended.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers stands 'head and shoulders above the rest for plaintiffs' with expertise encompassing shareholder class actions, consumer actions, negligence claims, cartels and product liability issues. The group's extensive class action list includes acting for AMP shareholders in proceedings following the revelations of its misconduct in the Banking Royal Commission, advising on the Slater and Gordon shareholder class action, representing motorists against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda in a claim relating to false emissions reporting; acting for claimants in the Montara oil spill class action, and representing individuals in the Queensland 2011 floods class action. Key practitioners include national team head Andrew Watson, Ben Slade, Brooke Dellavedova, Jason Geisker and Vavaa Mawuli.

'Excellent in all areas', Ashurst excels in the financial institution, energy, resources and infrastructure sectors; clients include ANZ, KPMG, the New South Wales government and RBS. Mark Elvy leads the group and is the key name for cross-border litigation. John Pavlakis is 'an excellent strategic thinker and knows where to focus to strengthen weak points and shore up defences'; his recent work includes representing the Commonwealth of Australia in proceedings in Indonesia brought by 115 plaintiffs alleging negligence and violation of human rights arising out of the detention of Indonesian juveniles accused of people smuggling, and acting for BMW in the Supreme Court of New South Wales in the high-profile Takata airbag class action. Clients also praise the 'excellent' Andrew Carter, financial services and infrastructure specialist Mark Bradley and the 'highly knowledgeable' Ian Bolster.

Norton Rose Fulbright's 'highly experienced team' is recognised for its 'commercial and responsive approach' and 'excellent industry and legal knowledge' which 'consistently leads to practical and easily applicable advice'. 'Incredibly hands-on' global chair Tricia Hobson and Cameron Harvey jointly lead the practice, which is active in the insurance market and has substantial expertise in shareholder, securities, environmental, consumer, insolvency and product liability claims. Hobson's recent work includes working with Abigail McGregor for several clients in relation to a securities class action. The 'well-organised' Nicole Wearne, the 'exceptionally knowledgeable' Grant Bonner, product liability expert Toby Biddle, and insurance specialist Jacques Jacobs are also names to note. Ann Donohue joined from Minter Ellison and Rebecca Whittle and Michael Sullivan joined via the firm's merger with now-defunct firm Henry Davis York.

Recent highlights for the 'excellent' practice at Arnold Bloch Leibler include acting for Slater and Gordon in multiple shareholder class actions following the decrease in its share price by A$2bn, representing a retirement village operator in proceedings brought by residents relating to the depreciation of unit values after the introduction of new management contracts, and advising four former non-executive directors of Dick Smith regarding the alleged breaches of duties by the company's receivers and managers. Leon Zwier heads up the team, which also includes insolvency specialist Jonathan Milner, Teresa Ward, Susanna Ford and 'level practitioner' John Mitchell, who is 'consistently calm under fire'.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth's notable work highlights include Mark Wilks acting for Hancock Prospecting in claims brought by the children of Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart regarding the ownership of its key mining assets, advising litigation funder IMF Bentham on multiple class actions related to new residential developments in the Australian Capital Territory, and Chris Pagent defending Serco Australia and Broadspectrum in actions relating to immigration detention facilities the clients operate on Christmas island and Manus island and the treatment of detainees. Other key practitioners include practice head James Whittaker, Stan Lewis and financial services and product liability expert Brad Woodhouse.

DLA Piper 'consistently provides a professional, high-quality service' rendering 'timely and strategic advice and going the extra yard to ensure the best possible results'. Clients single out department head Kieran O’Brien, 'a strong negotiator who is highly articulate, proactive and client friendly in his approach'; he recently defended Liability Mutual Insurance in a class action relating to the 2014 Mickleham bushfire. Other work includes Cameron Maclean acting for Western Power following a wildfire causing property damage in 2014 and also defending the State of Western Australia and its reinsurers in property damage, business interruption and associated claims.

At Minter Ellison, Beverley Newbold attracts praise as 'an incredibly practical and commercial lawyer who is genuinely amazing'; she recently defended Bellamy's in two class actions brought by shareholders alleging missed disclosure obligations and misleading and deceptive conduct. The practice is highly regarded for its shareholder expertise and is led by Ross Freeman; other key individuals include David Taylor, who joined from Herbert Smith Freehills, Michelle Power and regulatory specialist Andrew Gill.

Following its launch in 2017, specialist plaintiff class action firm Phi Finney McDonald  is 'an up-and-comer to keep an eye on' with name partners Ben Phi, Tim Finney and Odette McDonald 'setting the bar high from the get-go'. The group is notably focused on shareholder class actions; it recently acted for the representative applicant and investors who acquired GetSwift securities in proceedings following a fall in share price relating to its failure to report enterprise termination agreements. Other highlights include representing the lead applicant in a class action against BHP Billiton relating to damages caused by the collapse of a dam in Brazil and commencing proceedings against CBA for its shareholders following a share price drop after it was alleged that it breached the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. Paul Zawa also joined from an in-house position with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP's expertise encompasses acting for both plaintiff and defendant parties under the 'insightful' leadership of 'field expert' Damian Scattini. Scattini's recent work includes representing Petersen Superannuation Fund as lead applicant in proceedings against the Bank of Queensland and DDH Graham alleging contract breaches, acting for the lead plaintiff and affected shareholders in an action against AMP relating to its recent admissions of misconduct revealed in the Financial Services Royal Commission, and filing six class actions in the Supreme Court of New South Wales against multiple car manufacturers regarding their role in the Takata airbag scandal.

At Clifford Chance, Angela Pearsall, Diana Chang and Tim Grave are the key names to note for class action expertise with Pearsall recently defending Deloitte in shareholder claims arising from the collapse of Hastie Group, and Grave working with Chang to represent S&P Global and related entities in multiple Federal Court class actions relating to ratings assigned by Standard & Poor's to various SCDOs. The group also acted for Deloitte in proceedings arising from the collapse of the Dick Smith Group.

Key names in Clyde & Co LLP's 'impressive' team include the 'diligent' Janette McLennan, Gareth Horne, who is 'smart, committed and good at developing strategies'; marine specialist Maurice Thompson and professional liability expert John Moran, who joined from Norton Rose Fulbright in 2018. The group is noted for its insurance knowledge; it recently acted for the D&O insurers of Forge Group as respondent in a securities class action relating to Forge's collapse. Thompson is also acting for Murphy Operator as claimant in a class action against a port authority for environmental damage arising from vessel channel deepening and dredging activities.

'Clearly up-and-coming', Johnson Winter & Slattery's 'highly responsive, professional and knowledgeable' practice is 'becoming key competition for some of the other firms in the market'. Commercial litigation group head Paul Reidy is 'savvy, strategic and has client skills of the highest calibre', Robert Johnston is 'brilliant', Mark Easton 'excellent' and Chris Connor is 'user-friendly, experienced and calm'. Recent highlights include defending 3M in multiple product liability and environmental damage class actions following the Department of Defence's use of allegedly toxic fire retardent chemicals at air force defence bases, and acting in two class actions arising from the Dick Smith collapse. The 'truly outstanding' Frances Dreyer made partner in 2018.

Squire Patton Boggs stands out for its expertise in financial product and insolvency class actions with recent mandates including acting for the applicants in six separate class actions against Standard & Poor's and Fitch relating to credit ratings assigned to SCDOs, and representing a client in proceedings in the Federal Court regarding its acquisition of shares on the basis of allegedly misleading and deceptive product disclosure statements. Highly regarded insolvency specialist Amanda Banton leads the group, which also includes Shaan Palmer and of counsels Susan Goodman (who joined from Ashurst), Denée Muller and Lisa Gallate.

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