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Australia > Transport > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Transport: aviation
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Richard Davis - HWL Ebsworth
    • Mark Mackrell - Norton White

Who Represents Who

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HWL Ebsworth’s ‘exceptional’ aviation team is noted for its ‘outstanding technical expertise delivered in a pragmatic, cost-effective way’ and its ‘very short response times’. Richard Davis and Simon Liddy ‘are both exceptional’; Davis, who ‘combines flair and pragmatism’, advised Korean airline Jin Air on the regulatory and commercial requirements in connection with the commencement of its operations in Australia, which required negotiations with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority; Liddy led a team assisting two airlines in a recovery action against an airport for damage done to aircrafts during a storm. Matthew Brooks is defending a leading airline in personal injury and negligence proceedings filed by an ex-employee and acted for an aircraft operator in its response to next of kin claims and police investigations following the deadly loss of an aircraft as well as in its contribution claim against the manufacturer of the aircraft and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. Joe Hurley heads the national transport group from Sydney; the name to note in Brisbane is Philip Hunter. *Since publication, HWL Ebsworth and Tress Cox have merged.

Norton Rose Fulbright services airports, banks and financial institutions with regards to regulatory, operational, financing and transactional issues in the aviation space. Brisbane-based Dale Rayner is acting for a major global bank in the chapter 11 refinancing of a transnational helicopter services company operating in the transport of oil and gas and rescue operations, and jointly with the tax team assisted a client with its acquisition of an aircraft leased to a global household name aviation company. In the infrastructure space, national head of aviation Tom Young advised an independent fund manager on its bid to become the long-term commercial partner in the operation of a major airport. Special counsel Julie Brown supported Young to handle the real estate due diligence and the negotiation of the long-term lease in connection with the privatisation of the Port Hedland international airport by a consortium comprising funds managed by client AMP Capital Investors and Infrastructure Capital Group. Ernest van Buuren is the firm’s head of road and aviation transport.

Norton White’s team advises airlines, aircraft operators, underwriters and brokers as well as their insurers on liability, regulatory and commercial matters. Trade practices, product liability and intellectual property expert Mark Mackrell and Ben Martin have recently handled negotiations with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and other government departments, high-profile claims against operators arising from accidents, and aircraft transactions and financings.

Clayton Utz’s aviation team is part of its transport and logistics group and ‘provides advice of the highest order’ in a wide spectrum of issues, with a strong presence in the public sector. The ‘exceptional’ Canberra-based Andrew Leece is a regulatory expert and ‘trusted adviser’ who ‘has a great manner with clients and makes them feel safe to ask questions’. He led the advice to a number of airports including Alice Springs, Canberra and Brisbane Airport with regards to agreements pertaining to their operation, such as pricing, conditions of use and terminal services agreements. In other highlights, the Department of Finance engaged the team to handle all aspects of its implementation of whole-of-government airline agreements, and a joint infrastructure, projects and aviation team advised Hobart International Airport on its runway upgrade. Noteworthy is Leece’s work with the environment and planning team for the Commonwealth and a number of airports in connection with investigations and risk assessment arising from a contamination issue regarding firefighting foam.

Clyde & Co LLP handles airline liability, regulatory, uninsured claims and general aviation issues with a particular expertise in aviation safety. The five-partner team is led by national maritime and commodities practice head Maurice Thompson who splits his time between Melbourne and Perth; he led on the advice to airlines with regards to numerous claims filed by next of kin following major aviation accidents; he was assisted by special counsel James Cooper. They also advised a leading retailer on regulatory issues arising from the use of drones, and an airline on its local tax liabilities in connection with flights to and from Australia. Another recent work highlight has been advising a client on a recovery action arising from misrepresentations surrounding a commercial aircraft’s traffic collision avoidance system at the time of its sale. Gavin Beardsell joined the firm’s Sydney office from Gilchrist Connell.

Insurance litigation specialist Andrew Tulloch heads Colin Biggers & Paisley’s aviation practice with extensive experience in recovery actions against air and sea carriers; he is supported by newly promoted special counsel Marcus Saw. The pair are currently acting for QBE as the insurer of an aircraft which crashed into a shopping centre shortly after take-off; newly promoted insurance partner Ana Kolovos defended jointly with Tulloch a Supreme Court claim filed by the father and husband of two passengers who lost their lives in an aircraft accident due to poor weather conditions. On the non-contentious side, a new entrant to the Australian market received advice on drafting a new aircraft insurance policy.

HodgkinsonJohnston is a specialist Perth-based aviation and aerospace firm founded in 2015, led by David Hodgkinson and Rebecca Johnston. The team has been advising Facebook on its Aquila project, which involves significant regulatory issues pertaining to the use of unmanned aircraft systems and the commercial implications of testing first-of-type drone technology. Maroomba Airlines receives advice on a wide range of matters, including the sale and acquisition of aircrafts, leasing arrangements and domestic and international registration work; on the transactional front, the team acted for SC Aviation, a private charter company, in connection with a number of aircraft transactions such as the cross-border procurement of a private jet which fell under the requirements of the recently implemented Cape Town Convention, an international registration system.

King & Wood Mallesons’ practice head John Canning specialises in cross-border structured finance transactions. The team advised Ireland-based Goshawk Aviation on a purchase, sale and leasing transaction with the Indonesian entity PT Lion, and Yuen-Yee Cho assisted Sydney Airport with its bank debt refinancing. On the infrastructure front, construction specialist James Forrest is part of the team advising Transport for New South Wales on the proposed procurement of rail infrastructure as part of the Western Sydney Airport development at Badgery’s Creek; he also advised Perth Airport on its A$1bn redevelopment. The key name to note for corporate, M&A and competition work in the aviation space is Wayne Leach.

Mills Oakley Lawyers’ two-partner team consists of Gavin Douglas and Tom Lennox and advises clients on operational agreements, cross-border transactions, leasing and M&A matters. Douglas and senior associate Paul Henry advised Qantas in its renegotiation of a complex aircraft operating agreement by which National Jet Systems is the incumbent operator of the Boeing 717 fleet and provider of maintenance services for at least ten years. A helicopter services provider instructed the team on a cross-border leasing transaction as well as related safety, tax and regulatory issues. Other key clients include Royal Flying Doctor Service, Oil Search and Sydney Seaplanes.


Index of tables

  1. Transport: shipping
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Shipping 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


HFW capitalises on its large global team, and all its Australian partners are dual qualified in Australia and the UK. The practice acted for Toll Shipping and its hull and machinery insurers on a claim against an engineering company regarding negligent workmanship; it also represented Triton Shipping as owners of the vessel OOCL Hong Kong in relation to a collision at Port Botany, with a total matter value of A$1.5m. Gavin Vallely’s strengths include ‘his in-depth knowledge of the industry and his commercial awareness of industry players; Hazel Brewer, Stephen Thompson and Nic van der Reyden are also recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s team is led by master mariner Ernest van Buuren and handles a wide range of matters in the sector, among them ship finance, asset restructuring and insolvency, casualty response, environmental issues, and risk advisory issues. The practice represented Rio Tinto Aluminium in a A$5m claim against Svitzer Australia for loss and damage associated with tugs operating with materials containing asbestos, a dispute litigated in the Supreme Court of Queensland. DP World Australia received advice on the impact of Hanjin Shipping going into administration; the company was owed A$1.3m for stevedoring services. Hazel Brasington and special counsel Michelle Taylor are also singled out. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

Clyde & Co LLP’s seven-partner team counts offshore oil and gas as a key focus for contentious and non-contentious work; it also covers dry shipping and marine insurance matters as well as wet shipping and casualty cases. The team represented JKC Australia, charterers of a purpose-built hydro platform for the safe offloading of project cargo for the Ichthys LNG project, in relation to the platform’s redelivery and removal from its berth. Leighton Contractors, Thiess Holdings and CGU Insurance instructed the team in a dispute arising from the grounding of a barge laden with high-value project cargo for the Gorgon LNG project. Practice head Maurice Thompson is recommended, as are Brian Nash and counsel James Cooper. Jonathan Wyatt joined from Sparke Helmore Lawyers; Avryl Lattin has been promoted to partner.

Colin Biggers & Paisley’s team, which is headed by Andrew Tulloch, has been strengthened by counsel Richard Arrage and Stephen Thompson arriving from K&L Gates; Thompson has a focus on maritime M&A, construction, ship sale and purchase, and charter matters. Insurance is another strength: the team regularly acts for Chubb and QBE. The team is representing the Country Fire Authority in A$4m Federal Court proceedings concerning fire services provided to extinguish a fire aboard the Awassi Express. A marine insurer of a forwarder receives advice on shipping issues arising from Dick Smith’s liquidation.

The ‘excellent’ team at HWL Ebsworth has ‘great local contacts’, and delivers a ‘good combination of practical commercial advice and technical knowledge’. It continues to act for a large number of P&I clubs, which is a particular focus of the practice. The team advised and represented the owners of Hanjin California in connection with its arrest in Sydney in 2016 following the insolvency of the vessel’s charterer Hanjin Shipping. Mount Isa Mines, owners of the Thor Commander, received advice in relation to $2m-worth of salvage services provided to the ship following an engine breakdown close to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland. Practice head Joe Hurley and Simon Liddy are ‘commercial, experienced, very efficient, and render accurate advice’. *Since publication, HWL Ebsworth and Tress Cox have merged.

At boutique firm Cocks MacNish, Timothy Cocks is regarded as ‘a very good operator’, advising a wide range of clients. The team regularly acts for shipowners and charterers, oil companies, shippers and receivers of bulk, government bodies, hull and machinery underwriters, shipyards and ship financiers. The Perth-based practice regularly acts for clients in maritime matters regarding the establishment, development and operation of oil and gas fields off the coast of Western Australia. Ashley Nichols has experience in maritime casualty investigations and marine cargo disputes.

Mills Oakley Lawyersprovides exactly the level of service and expertise required at competitive rates’. It acts predominantly for marine insurers and, apart from its local client base, regularly advises UK-based insurers and claims agencies as well as international freight forwarders. It advised several marine insurers and cargo owners on claims regarding stranded cargo containers in connection with the insolvencies of Hanjin Shipping and Great Southern Shipping, and defended a hull and machinery insurer in proceedings commenced by an insured entity in the Supreme Court of New South Wales following the insurer’s denial of a $4m claim for damage following grounding in Papua New Guinea. AIG Insurance and Chubb are also key clients. ‘Excellent communicator’ Frazer Hunt has ‘great commercial instincts’ and ‘years of solid experience’, and clients ‘can depend heavily on his advice’. Associate Maurice Lynch possesses ‘excellent in-depth knowledge’ and is ‘a terrific communicator with excellent negotiation skills’.

Boutique firm Norton White acts for shipowners, banks, insurers and charterers; Robert Wilson is noted for his maritime focus. The Sydney-based practice represents clients in admiralty claims and arrest and ownership disputes, and assists clients with bills of lading issues and in cases of casualties, collisions or stranding. Antitrust matters within the maritime industry are another focus area.

Thynne + Macartney significantly grew its practice by merging with Brian White & Associates, welcoming consultant Brian White, who has a particular focus on Papua New Guinea and Melanesia. Clients include shipowners and charterers, ship managers and agents, transport companies, and repairers. It continues to represent the liability insurer in relation to the A$193m grounding of Shen Neng 1 in 2010, resulting in a number of issues, among them criminal prosecutions and civil action for alleged environmental damage. The team regularly acts for QBE Insurance, Vero National Marine, the International Transport Intermediaries Club and all members of the International Group of P&I Clubs. Head of team Michael Fisher is recommended, as is Matthew Hockaday.

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