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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 Partners

Leading individuals

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Next Generation Partners

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Allens has ‘a great feel for the regulator and an exceptional understanding of competition law’. Clients ‘cannot speak highly enough' of Fiona Crosbie, who has 'deep knowledge and experience’; Ted Hill and recently promoted partner Rosannah Healy are both ‘responsive, easy to work with and have a razor sharp intelligence’. Melbourne-based Robert Walker also made partner and is representing Ford in high-profile proceedings brought against it by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) concerning vehicles equipped with its PowerShift transmission. The firm hosts a strong regulatory investigations practice, with Kon Stellios defending PZ Cussons in the first contested ‘hub and spoke’ cartel case brought by the ACCC. Notable transactions included Crosbie's advice to a major financial institution on the sale of its life and consumer credit insurance business. Practice head Jacqueline Downes advised News Corporation, owner of Fox Sport and joint owner of Foxtel, on obtaining ACCC clearance for a merger of the two entities.

Ashurst’s ‘pre-eminent’ practice is ‘highly experienced and provides clear, concise and relevant advice tailored to the business’. Angie Ng, who joined from Clifford Chance's Hong Kong office, adds depth in multi-jurisdictional merger transactions. The team also frequently acts on cartel matters, market enquiries and unilateral conducts. 'Competition expert' Justin Jones has been promoted to partner and the ‘professional and engaging' Ross Zaurrini and practice head Bill Reid advised AIA on securing ACCC clearance for its A$3.8bn acquisition of Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s life insurance business CommInsure. Peter Armitage ‘provides excellent support’ even ‘under tight deadlines’. He acted for Advance Energy on its A$7.62bn acquisition of 50.4% of Endeavour Energy.

Gilbert + Tobin ‘is a clear standout’ in the competition sphere, possessing ‘technical expertise and great depth’. Luke Woodward ‘has a good understanding of ACCC processes’; he jointly leads the practice with Elizabeth Avery, who ‘quickly grasps key commercial and competition issues’. Woodward and the ‘extremely strategic’, ‘clear and concise’ Gina Cass-Gottlieb advised Tabcorp on its merger Tatts. Clearance was initially blocked by the ACCC and required over 70 lay witnesses and seven economic experts at two tribunal hearings. In addition to contentious merger clearances and acquisitions, the team excels at ACCC inquiries and represented K-Line in one of Australia’s first criminal cartel prosecutions. Sydney-based Charles Coorey ‘understands the business and legal requirements and provides practical legal advice’.

At Herbert Smith Freehills, the ‘response times, business acumen and industry knowledge are all excellent’ and the team is ‘personable and unflappable’ with ‘a deep understanding of the regulator’. Highlights included Patrick Gay's advice to Tabcorp with obtaining authorisation for its acquisition of Tatts Group, one of the most high-profile and complex transactions in the market. Practice head Liza Carver  defended Cement Australia in its ACCC appeal to the Full Federal Court, resulting in a $20.6m penalties payment, instead of the $100m sought by the regulator. Melbourne-based Matthew Bull stands out as ‘a market leader in the competition space’ and ‘equal to the best’. Sarah Benbow was promoted to partner; Chris Jose is now a commissioner at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

King & Wood Mallesons ‘stands far above the competition', provides a ‘service quality that is excellent without exception’ and 'advice is always tailored to clients' needs’. High-profile merger clearances are a focus and the team also has expertise in cartel investigations and ACCC enforcements. Caroline Coops successfully defended Medibank against allegations of misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct brought by the ACCC. Further highlights included Lisa Huett's advice to Dow Chemical Company on obtaining ACCC clearance prior to its merger with DuPont. Sharon Henrick heads the team, which includes Trish Henry who ‘draws on her wealth of experience to offer unique solutions’. Clients include Expedia, Telstra, Colgate-Palmolive and Zurich Insurance. Solicitor Simon Cooke is also singled out.

Clayton Utz's 'excellent knowledge is second to none' and practice head Kirsten Webb leads a ‘fantastic team of lawyers who work together and bring different skills to the table’. Webb advised Woolworths on the A$1.8bn sale of its petrol business to BP, ultimately approved by the ACCC despite its initial preference for a new market player to purchase the assets. Also on the transactions front, ‘pre-eminent competition lawyer’ Michael Corrigan acted for Tatts on its A$11bn merger with Tabcorp, utilising his gaming and lotteries industry expertise to obtain ACCC approval. The team also has cartels and competition investigations expertise and is advising the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in relation to the Banking Royal Commission. Linda Evans is singled out, special counsel Mihkel Wilding is ‘a highly capable lawyer’ and Elizabeth Richmond was promoted to partner.

Johnson Winter & Slattery is noted for its ‘excellent service and client-focused approach’. Aldo Nicotra leads the team, which has ‘deep expertise and experience’ in major cartel cases, mergers and acquisitions and ACCC investigations. Clients span the energy, natural resources, transportation, IT and media industries and include The Walt Disney (Australia) Company, Mercedes Benz Australia and PepsiCo. Highlights included acting for Bayer on seeking regulatory approval for its proposed acquisition of Monsanto and representing Ramsay Healthcare in the ACCC prosecution for misuse of market power and exclusive dealing. Sar Katdare ‘provides practical solutions to complex problems’ and special counsel Wolfgang Hellmann ‘is an expert in competition law with excellent skills’. Consultant John Kench and Michele Laidlaw are also recommended.

Domestic and international merger clearance is a focus for Minter Ellison's team, which also specialises in cartels and other regulatory investigations, government pricing issues and access regimes. Paul Schoff heads the competition practice from Sydney and Melbourne-based Geoff Carter leads on the mergers front; the latter is advising AT&T on its acquisition of Time Warner and also assisted CrownBet with raising its concerns regarding the merger between Tabcorp and Tatts. Schoff has been busy on the regulatory investigation side, acting with Katrina Groshinski for Viagogo regarding alleged breaches of Australian consumer law. Justin Oliver is a name to note in Brisbane and is representing EGR in relation to alleged cartel conduct within its terms of supply for polycarbonate sheeting. Notable clients include Allianz, American Express and Sony Pictures.

Nick McHugh and Martyn Taylor jointly head the practice at Norton Rose Fulbright, which advises on merger clearances, regulatory matters and competition-related litigation. Highlights included assisting a key client with the implementation of its privatisation and restructuring to meet regulatory requirements. It also assisted a client with competition clearance issues prior to a multibillion-dollar merger. Stephen Gorry joined from now-defunct firm Henry Davis York, and both Belinda Harvey and Claire Forster, who has broad expertise across competition law, have been promoted to the partnership.

Allen & Overy LLP handles cartels and other anti-competitive conduct investigations, ACCC litigation, unilateral conduct matters and multi-jurisdictional merger control reviews and filings. It frequently acts for clients from the energy and natural resources, manufacturing, financial services and aviation industries and the client roster includes Alinta Energy, George Weston Foods and Equinix. Practice head Peter McDonald acted for BHP Billiton in an ACCC investigation into the Gippsland Basin joint venture between the client and Esso Australia. McDonald is also representing BHP in the ACCC’s gas inquiry, investigating pricing and availability. In a contentious matter, the team represented Reckitt Benckiser in the Federal Court after the ACCC commenced proceedings alleging breach of Australian consumer law.

Baker McKenzie represented the ACCC in Full Federal Court proceedings brought against Medibank for misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct. The practice is distinguished for acting both for and against the regulator, representing clients subject to ACCC investigations and enforcement as well as those seeking merger clearance. Practice head Georgina Foster assisted Platinum Equity with obtaining ACCC clearance for its acquisition of OfficeMax in Australia. She also advised Mantra Group on obtaining clearance for its acquisition by Accor, which resulted in the merger of the two largest hotel operators in Australia. The firm’s client roster includes several multinational brands such as FedEx.

Clifford Chance's team is led by Dave Poddar, who counts ‘among the leading competition lawyers in Australia’ and his ‘knowledge of the law is second to none’. The practice ‘continually provides an outstanding service and is always very responsive’. Poddar assisted Glencore with successfully convincing the Australian Competition Tribunal to declare the port of Newcastle as under the National Access Regime, resulting in the ACCC's ability to regulate prices and terms of access. A notable highlight was the team's clearance advice to General Electric for the merger of its oil and gas business with Baker Hughes. Senior associate Mark Grime has ‘an excellent regulatory background and knows how to best position the client’ and instructing Elizabeth Hersey is a ‘huge advantage in any lengthy competition matter’. Alice Bradshaw joined from Arnold Bloch Leibler.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth is noted for its ‘good response times, industry knowledge and business acumen’. The arrival of the ‘unreservedly recommended’ Ian Reynolds from Clayton Utz bolstered the practice, which is jointly headed by Mark McCowan and Andrew Korbel. It is acting for BP on its highly contentious acquisition of Woolworths’ national network of 527 retail service station and development sites, and advises Dell on all of its competition and consumer protection issues. Brisbane-based Eddie Scuderi, who has ‘great knowledge of the relevant regulatory landscape’, is advising the state of Queensland on proposed amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act. The practice also has expertise in Chinese international trade matters.

DLA Piper handles the full spectrum of competition and trade law matters, acting for both the regulator and corporate clients with particular expertise in the energy and infrastructure sectors. On the regulatory side, practice head Simon Uthmeyer advised the ACCC on the authorisation process for the high-profile A$11.3bn merger between Tabcorp and Tatts . It also assisted the regulator in relation to the proposed joint venture between Glencore and Yancoal. Fleur Gibbons, a well-regarded practitioner in the utility sector, is advising Icon Water following an investigation of the pricing of its water and sewerage services. Clients include Perth Airport, Hyundai and the Australian Health Services Alliance. Leanne Hanna has taken up a role in-house.

Zaven Mardirossian leads the practice at Arnold Bloch Leibler and jointly with Matthew Lees acted for Fonterra in relation to an ACCC investigation into milk price reductions; the regulator cleared Fonterra following the investigation. Lees also represented Harris Farm Markets in a dispute with Woolworths alleging that by enforcing a right of refusal over a lease, the supermarket giant was acting anti-competitively. In addition to ACCC investigations and private competition dispute resolution, the team is also adept in merger approvals, consumer law issues, product recalls, compliance programmes and risk management. Melbourne-based senior associate David Robbins acts for clients in the fashion, online retail, manufacturing and financial services industries.

HWL Ebsworth has been bolstered by the arrival of Alistair Little, who joined  following the firm's merger with TressCox Lawyers; he defended Cascade Coal and two of its directors in cartel proceedings brought by the ACCC. The team has been active on the cartel front and Richard Westmoreland defended a large Japanese shipping company against market sharing and price fixing allegations. The group also specialises in merger clearances, access regulation, compliance programmes and other forms of ACCC investigations. Sydney-based Westmoreland heads the team jointly with Peter Campbell in Adelaide. Campbell represented the Australian Egg Corporation in ACCC cartel proceedings; the client appeared in the Full Federal Court and was cleared of charges.

Prudence Smith heads the team at Jones Day following Nick Taylor's departure to take up a role in-house. The group is experienced in acting on merger clearances and Smith is representing Racing Victoria in the ACCC assessment of TabCorp's acquisition of The Tatts Group. Smith has also made submissions to the Australian Competition Tribunal on behalf of AusNet Services, seeking a review of a decision made by the Australian Energy Regulator. The team acts for both corporate and government clients and is adept at handling misuse of market power investigations.

The ‘very commercial and practical’ Ayman Guirguis heads the team at K&L Gates, which has been bolstered by the arrival of David Howarth from the ACCC. It successfully obtained merger clearance for Milemaker in relation to the proposed sale of its retail petrol network to Caltex, one of Australia’s largest refiners and marketers. Guirguis also acted for 800 Australia Post licensees in relation to their collective negotiations with Australia Post; the clients had concerns that their conduct could amount to a cartel and applied for ACCC authorisation. Cartels, merger clearances, other forms of ACCC investigations and Australian consumer law are areas of expertise for the team.

Brendan Coady leads the practice at Maddocks and successfully represented Optus Networks in ACCC proceedings against Telstra. Sydney-based Coady is an expert in the telecoms sector and Robert Gregory in Melbourne has particular energy-sector knowledge. Gina Wilson successfully defended Lawrence & Hanson Group against allegations of cartel conduct brought by the ACCC. Aside from ACCC investigations, the practice has strong capabilities advising on merger clearances and anti-competitive conduct issues.

Mills Oakley' practice is headed by ‘exceptional lawyer’ Kathryn Edghill, who joined from Bird & Bird, alongside Graham Maher; Edghill is noted for her ‘deep industry knowledge’ and ability ‘to distill complex issues and provide simple and practical solutions’. The team's arrival has added a number of clients to the roster, most notably Microsoft, which receives ongoing advice on Australian competition and consumer law issues. A further highlight saw the team defend Mazda Australia in consumer law class action proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW stemming from the Takata airbag recall. Contentious matters are a focus area for the practice, which is also representing Cameron Harrison, formerly of Country Care Group, in the first-ever criminal prosecution for cartel conduct issued against an individual.

Webb Henderson regularly acts for the ACCC in high-profile enforcement actions and is currently handling proceedings for the regulator brought against Ford Australia, Valve Corporation and Novartis. The team also assists clients in regulatory investigations and practice head Andrew Christopher represents Channel Nine in relation to the ACCC’s inquiry into competition issues arising from digital platforms. The team also includes Tom Bridges, who has expertise in competition and consumer law litigation. Other core strengths for the practice include cartel litigation and access regulation. The team grew through the arrivals of commercial litigator Philip Arnold from Meredith Connell and Beth Murphy, who has a focus on regulatory disputes, from Slaughter and May.

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