Dispute resolution: class actions in Australia

Allens

Allens’ class actions group forms part of the firm’s wider dispute and investigations department, which is headed by Andrew Maher from Melbourne. The practice has built ‘a market-leading reputation’ for acting on high-profile class actions in the financial services sector; of recent note, it is acting for Citibank in relation to the foreign exchange cartel class action brought against five global banks before the Federal Court. In the consumer class actions space, the team represented key client Westpac in actions relating to the bank fees charged by multiple Australian retail banks. Other areas of expertise relate to issues relating to shareholder action, product liability, cartels, natural disasters, and environmental damage. In Sydney, ‘great tacticianPaul Nicols and Jenny Campbell led on assisting Brambles with competing shareholder proceedings relating to allegations of breaches of the client’s disclosure obligations regarding its financial results. Guy Foster and Ross Drinnan are also very visible in the shareholder action arena. Other Sydney-based team members are also recommended: Malcolm Stephens with his ‘deep understanding of class actions law and practice’, and ‘highly competent’ senior associate Alex Tolliday, who joined from Herbert Smith Freehills in October 2018. In Melbourne, Belinda Thompson and recently promoted partner Jaime McKenzie are also names to note.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Maher; Jenny Campbell; Belinda Thompson

Testimonials

A team of great strategists

Paul Nicols is able to understand the concerns which insurers and funders face, as well as where the real issues of a case lie

Malcolm Stephens is an extremely smart, thorough and hardworking partner

Key clients

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group

The Bank of South Australia

Brambles

Citibank

Ford Motor Company of Australia

KPMG

Nissan

PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pty

QBE Insurance Group

Westpac Banking Corporation/ Westpac Life Insurance Services

Work highlights

  • Acted for Westpac on the case of Lenthall v Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited.
  • Acting for Ford Motor Company of Australia on a class action brought on behalf of owners of certain Ford vehicle models regarding alleged breaches of consumer guarantees, misleading or deceptive conduct and unconscionability claims.
  • Defending competing shareholder class action proceedings brought against Brambles in relation to alleged breaches of its continuous disclosure obligations in respect of its financial results.
  • Acted for QBE Insurance Group on a shareholder class action concerning alleged violations of the client’s continued disclosure obligations.

Ashurst

Mark Elvy heads Ashurst's dispute resolution group, which includes the class action practice jointly led by Sydney-based Ian Bolster and Melbourne-based Mark Bradley. Bolster ‘not only possesses exceptional legal skills, but also shows boundless energy and enthusiasm in running a case’. John Pavlakis is also a key figure and is leading a team representing BMW Australia in class action proceedings at the Supreme Court of New South Wales, in relation to over 200,000 vehicles fitted with allegedly defective Takata airbags. Senior associate Ellena Petinos works alongside Pavlakis and is also noted. Apart from experience in the automotive sector, team members are also prominent across other key sectors such as financial services, utilities, and the public sector.

Practice head(s):

Ian Bolster; Mark Bradley; Mark Elvy

Other key lawyers:

John Pavlakis; Ellena Petinos

Testimonials

A team of lawyers which are strong across all levels

All lawyers are first-rate, so whoever is working on the matter would do a great job

Key clients

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group

Commonwealth Government of Australia

BMW Australia

KPMG

Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Royal Bank of Scotland

Deloitte

Government of New South Wales

McGrathNicol

Ernst & Young

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Kagara Ltd

Work highlights

  • Defending Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in class action proceedings relating to the charging of exception fees.
  • Defending BMW Australia in class action proceedings initiated by owners of BMW vehicles relating to allegedly defective Takata airbags fitted in BMW vehicles.
  • Defending a former director of Kagara in shareholder class action proceedings brought before the Federal Court of Australia.
  • Representing Airservices in class action proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to allegations of underpayment of certain employee entitlements.
  • Advising McGrath Nicol, liquidators and scheme administrators of Australian insurance group HIH Insurance, on multiple shareholder actions.

Clayton Utz

At Clayton Utz, Colin Loveday leads the class actions group, while Melbourne-based Andrew Morrison heads up the wider national commercial litigation department. The practice handles a wide range of claims relating to product liability, financial services, shareholder class actions, managed investments, as well as mass consumer claims. Apart from its traditional strength in these  areas, the department is increasingly advising clients on consumer remediation programs, most recently in the financial services industry. Also of note, the group is adept at handling the Australian aspects of issues of global significance, such as the Volkswagen Group in relation to the global emissions issue. Greg Williams’ practice places emphasis on the conduct of class actions and product liability litigation. Nicholas Mavrakis stands out for his experience in managing large claims in the context of class actions, financial adviser disputes, and securities law and fraud. Recently promoted partner Alexandra Rose is also noted. Special counsel Sara Dennis departed in January 2019.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Morrison; Colin Loveday

Other key lawyers:

Greg Williams; Nicholas Mavrakis; Alexandra Rose; Sara Dennis

Testimonials

This practice is known for its exceptional experience and expertise in handling bet-the-farm class actions, especially in product liability. It is this reputation that attracted us to the firm in the first place

The key strength of the firm’s practice in Perth is that there is a talented disputes team helmed by a leader that ensures that the team works together in a cohesive manner and strives to deliver timely and practical advice

Greg Williams in an incredibly astute partner, anticipating well in advance the inevitable twists and turns that come with complex litigation. This makes for better strategic planning, which Greg thoroughly considers before making a recommendation

Richard Abraham is a dedicated and incredibly capable lawyer, who keeps the client regularly informed of the status of the matter and can translate complex legal ideas into understandable language

I enjoyed working with Nick Cooper and his team in Perth. Nick is an excellent leader and is always available for his clients. Nick gives good and practical advice and inspires confidence

Perth-based Tim Donisi is an outstanding professional – a clear thinker, whose calm demeanour is exemplary

Key clients

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group

Volkswagen

Subaru

Myer

The Trust Company

Johnson & Johnson

Work highlights

  • Acting for members of the Volkswagen Group on multiple claims and regulatory actions.
  • Assisting Subaru (Aust) Pty with various regulatory and litigation issues arising from the global recall of vehicles containing certain Takata airbag inflators.
  • Assisting Myer Holdings, in its role as a defendant in a shareholder class action, with claims regrading the client’s continuous disclosure obligations.
  • Assisting two former directors of Dick Smith Electronics with claims brought by shareholders.
  • Assisting Johnson & Johnson with product liability claims relating to a polymer-based surgical implant.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Garnering praise from both clients and peers, Herbert Smith Freehills houses the ‘premier class action defence team in Australia’, which also has ‘a great understanding of the needs of the client’. Leading the global class action practice from Melbourne, Damian Grave is noted for being ‘unfailingly professional’ and ‘a true leader in the space’. ‘Extremely competent’ executive counsel Helen Mould works closely with Grave and is an adviser to clients on actions involving strategic and regulatory issues. Ruth Overington is another name to note in Melbourne, and is advising on a high-profile product liability class action. The ‘amazingJason Betts and Peter Butler are standout practitioners in Sydney; the duo have most recently assisted Cash Converters International with defending two class action lawsuits challenging the validity of a ‘brokerage fee’. Senior associate Christine Tran is also noted and specialises in high-stakes litigation and Ante Golem is a key contact for class action litigation in Perth. In August 2019, Ken Adams departed to become general counsel at the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

Practice head(s):

Damian Grave

Testimonials

The team stands out for its in-depth technical expertise, the experience and the reputation which it has in the area of class actions, and its innovative approach to legal issues

Team members are easy to deal with, courteous, sensible, and act in a fully professional manner at all times

I have worked with other teams, and none are as prepared, resourced or sharp as Herbert Smith Freehills’ team is

The team is head and shoulders above the rest and works very well together in a seamless way. All members of the team demonstrate high technical competence in the areas subject to the class actions. The documentation was always thorough. The team also has a very strong commercial capability in terms of knowing when and how to negotiate a successful financial outcome

Damian Grave is a standout because he is across all of the details. He is highly technically competent, has a very strong commercial understanding, and has a very approachable style about him. He was always available to have a one-on-one discussion in what was at times a very challenging matter

Damian Grave and Helen Mould make a great team which creates a high level of comfort in the client

Damian Grave has assembled a team of people who are client-focused, highly strategic, sharp, and with a technical and intellectual ability which is hard to match

Damian Grave is exceptionally bright, hardworking, friendly and utterly professional

Both Damian Grave and Jason Betts are esteemed practitioners bringing results of the highest quality

Jason Betts is technically superior, hardworking, always available, and provides a safe pair of hands

Helen Mould is accessible, knows how to run and manage large complex litigation, and provide clients with excellent support and inspires confidence

Leah Watterson is a great team player and knows what clients need

Key clients

Lendlease

Cash Converters

Sims Metal Management

UGL

Ashley Services Group

Murray Goulburn Co-operative

WorleyParsons

PricewaterhouseCoopers

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Macmahon Holdings

AMP

Toyota Motor Company

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group

BHP

Vocus

Mcmillan Shakespeare

Work highlights

  • Acting for AMP on four sets of class action proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
  • Acting for BHP on defending three competing shareholder class actions in relation to the 2015 failure of the Fundão dam in Brazil.
  • Acting for Murray Goulburn Co-operative, MG Responsible Entity, and certain director defendants, on concurrent class action proceedings.
  • Acting for Lendlease on class action proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court, alleging misleading or deceptive conduct and continuous disclosure breaches by the client.
  • Assisted Cash Converters International with defending two class actions seeking compensation for people who took out loans styled as “personal loans” or “cash advances” from Cash Converters.

King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons ’ class actions group sits within the broader dispute resolution department and demonstrates ‘true excellence’ by ‘providing clear and practical legal guidance’. Team member also specialise in particular areas; practice head Moira Saville and Alexander Morris have developed a niche in financial services. The practice has additionally strengthened its position in the banking market  - it acts for the Westpac Banking Corporation on high-profile civil penalty and class action proceedings concerning allegations of the breach of applicable responsible lending legislation. The group also assists on securities and shareholder class actions. Peta Stevenson is recommended for claims in the competition and cartel space. Clients seek out Brisbane-based Justin McDonnell and Melbourne-based Chris Fox for assistance with substantive public liability claims. Senior associate Liam Burgess comes in for praise from clients for ‘working tirelessly to deliver exceptional results’. In February 2019, Sam Dundas joined the Perth office from HWL Ebsworth. Trish Henry accepted a judge appointment at the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Practice head(s):

Moira Saville

Testimonials

Team members have excellent skillsets and experience across the class action industry

Great ability to present clients with complex information in a clear and concise form

Excellent legal acumen

The firm has great experience in large-scale class actions, coupled with very good expertise in financial services

Key clients

Woolworths Group

Westpac

Engie

AMP

National Australia Bank

Telstra

IOOF Holdings

Shine Lawyers

Lochard Energy

Deutsche Bank

BHP

Work highlights

  • Acting for Westpac Banking Corporation on a class action relating to the client’s mortgage lending practices.
  • Advising National Australia Bank, the first respondent in proceedings alleging unconscionable conduct.
  • Acting for BHP on the defence of class action proceedings brought on behalf of workers at the Mt Arthur coal mine.
  • Advising Seqwater, the Government of Queenslan’sdam authority, on defending a $2bn class action relating to the 2011 Brisbane floods.
  • Acting for Woolworths Group on class action proceedings brought on behalf of shareholders.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ ‘undeniably strong’ class actions department stands out for its traditional strength in acting on the plaintiff side of high-profile class action proceedings. The national group is headed up by Melbourne-based Andrew Watson, who is recognised by peers as ‘a leading practitioner in the field’. Also in Melbourne, senior associate Elizabeth O’Shea  is recommended; she was part of the team advising on the class action against Uber brought on behalf of participants in the taxi and hire-car industry. Equally highly regarded on the Sydney side is Ben Slade, who has notable experience in consumer, commercial and product liability class actions and Vavaa Mawuli leads the class actions practice in Brisbane. Of note, the group is acting on a class action initiated on behalf of shareholders of BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc who suffered losses due to the share price fall following the Fundão Dam collapse in 2015. Julian SchimmelBrooke Dellavedova and Jason Geisker are also noted.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Watson

Testimonials

Great track record in handling class actions

Work highlights

  • Filed a class action against Uber on behalf of participants in the taxi, hire-car, limousine and charter vehicle industry seeking compensation for losses suffered as a result of Uber’s activities on the local market.
  • Acting for owners of affected vehicles on a collective claim against Volkswagen.
  • Acting for the plaintiffs on a collective claim brought against five large international investment banks in relation to alleged illegal cartel conduct in the foreign exchange market.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

The ‘exceptionally talentedChris Pagent leads Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s class actions practice, which is notable for its representation both plaintiffs and defendants. Pagent acts for a client roster of notable professional service providers and global organisations and the firm’s client base includes global manufacturers, financial institutions, and clients in the public sector. The team is acting on a large volume of instructions from clients in the professional services sector in addition to a range of claims concerning securities fraud, employment, climate, data breaches and privacy and product liability. 'Excellent operatorBrad Woodhouse specialises in product liability matters and has 'great knowledge of complex legal matters in the area of collective claims'. Special counsel Katrina Sleiman is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Chris Pagent

Other key lawyers:

Brad Woodhouse; Katrina Sleiman

Testimonials

Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s team provides exceptional client service. It excels at ensuring clients have access to the relevant partner with the absolutely right expertise and experience which the client needs

The practitioners in the group work very well together to ensure that no stone is left unturned

Due to its friendly culture, the team blends well with in-house counsel, which brings high-quality results

The team provides timely, commercial and well considered advice to its clients

The team knows how to listen to clients and how to package up a work product of exceptional quality. A particular strength is its excellent understanding of the law and its ability to scale up or down depending on the constraints of the work. Team members are also easy to deal with and nice to talk to

Chris is an exceptionally talented lawyer and advocate. He is extremely bright, and understands the law and the pressure points surrounding it like no other. His real strength lies in distilling quite complicated principles into simple and clear legal concepts. He also has a patient and respectful demeanour even when dealing with difficult counterparties

Chris Pagent formulates a clear strategic vision and implements it skilfully, always keeping the particular commercial context in mind

Brad Woodhouse and Chris Pagent are true experts in this area. They have an excellent ability to explain the unique class action process in an easy-to-understand, succinct manner

Brad Woodhouse is a partner with great experience and skill in class actions

David Anthony and Frieda Chan are exception senior associates, with the highest level of skills among their peers in class actions and in commercial litigation more generally

Work highlights

  • Acting for a large professional services company as a defendant in shareholder class action proceedings.
  • Acting for the trustee on defending two separate class actions relating to failed financial services products.
  • Representing the former chairman of a collapsed mining company in a shareholder class action in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
  • Acting for a large mining services provider in defence of a claim by 500 plaintiffs in the Supreme Court of Western Australia arising from the 2014 Parkerville bush fire.
  • Acting for a recruitment company on class action proceedings brought on behalf of casual employees in the mining sector.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright handles  a wide variety of class actions, including shareholder, securities, environmental, consumer, and insolvency-related claims. Traditionally, the team also has a strength in the product liability space, particularly in relation to healthcare products and drugs. The group is also acting on multiple instructions in the financial services sector. A key strength for the firm is its ability to draw on the expertise of the firm’s global network. Tricia Hobson and Cameron Harvey, based in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively, jointly head up the practice, where Nicole Wearne is also a standout practitioner. Toby Biddle is recommended for ‘putting effort in resolving a dispute in the best and most suitable manner for his client’. Grant Bonner is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Tricia Hobson; Cameron Harvey

Other key lawyers:

Nicole Wearne; Toby Biddle; Grant Bonner

Testimonials

Norton Rose Fulbright’s lawyers invest time in gaining an understanding the client’s business, which allows them to adopt a more commercial approach to the issue at hand and to provide top-quality legal advice

The team provides pragmatic and efficient advice which addresses the client’s concerns

Toby Biddle is willing to talk through the issues and to brainstorm with the client in relation to various courses of action. He goes beyond purely legal advice, and is excellent at managing a large number of cases at the same time

Key clients

CGU Insurance

Chubb

Australian Department of Defence

Ferrier Hodgson

QBE 386

SunWater

Thorn Australia Pty

MLC

Work highlights

  • Representing SunWater in high-profile class actions proceedings arising from the 2011 Queensland floods.
  • Acting for MLC on consumer credit insurance class action proceedings.
  • Acting for a prominent firm of accountants and its underwriters on a complex set of class action proceedings.
  • Acting for a FTSE 100 company on collective tort lawsuits regarding metal-on-metal hip replacement products.
  • Acting for the Commonwealth of Australia on defending class action proceedings on behalf of more than 280 current and former sailors.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

At Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, the class action litigation department does not deviate from the firm’s global traditional strength in commercial disputes and acts for clients on the plaintiff and the defendant side. Noted for his work on the plaintiff side, the ‘highly regarded and very successfulDamian Scattini jointly heads up the practice with Michael Mills and Michelle Fox, both of whom received commendation for defendant-focused work. The group handles complex claims regarding product liability and contractual disputes, among a wide variety of other areas of focus. Senior associate Nicholas Lennings also comes in for praise for ‘providing a safe pair of hands, coupled with a depth of experience’. Associate Ashleigh Whittaker is also singled out.

Practice head(s):

Michael Mills; Michelle Fox; Damian Scattini

Testimonials

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has market-leading capabilities on both sides of representative actions in Australia, which allows the team to offer insights from multiple perspectives

Team members instilled me with confidence from the very first discussion, which was due to their clear knowledge and expertise in class action matters. Every dealing we have had with the team has been professional, efficient, and focussed on the task at hand. Efficient strategy development and the navigation of legal opportunities are key strengths for the team

Damian Scattini has a long track record of providing strategic leadership to plaintiffs. Damian is also particularly experienced in working with litigation funders

Michael Mills and Michelle Fox are readily accessible when required and are attentive to our needs

Ashleigh Whittaker is a very committed associate, who is a good communicator and a very knowledgeable legal practitioner’

Key clients

GetSwift

Infigen Energy

Moira Shire Council

Pitcher Partners

Richmond Valley Council

Takata Corproation

Thorn Australia Pty

Work highlights

  • Acted for plaintiff Allen Dodd as trustee for the Allen Dodd Superannuation Fund on a securities class action brought against Shine Corporate.
  • Representing Ashita Tomi as trustee for the Esskay Super Fund in securities class action brought against RCR Tomlinson on behalf of affected shareholders.
  • Acting for Doudney Pty on shareholder class action brought by shareholders as a result of a 25% collapse in share value.
  • Representing  GetSwift and one of its directors in defending representative proceedings, alleging misleading or deceptive conduct and breach of continuous disclosure obligations.
  • Represented Infigen Energy in multiple proceedings arising out of a New South Wales bushfire.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper’s litigation and regulatory department acts on large class actions and mass tort lawsuits across a number of key sectors, such as insurance, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, financial services, and sports. A key differentiator for the team is its access to the firm’s wider network, which allows it to provide strategic cross-border litigation advice. The practice is led by Melbourne-based Kieran O’Brien, who also co-chairs the firm’s international class actions and collective redress group. Cameron Maclean and Jock Inness-Campbell are names to note at the office in Perth.

Practice head(s):

Kieran O’Brien

Key clients

Western Power

London Underwriters

QBE

Work highlights

  • Advised Western Power, a state-owned electricity generator, on class action proceedings relating to a 2014 destructive wildfire.
  • Acted for London Underwriters on an investor class action arising out of the collapse of the Banksia Group.
  • Acting for the State of Western Australia and its reinsurers on actions relating to property damage, business interruption and associated claims arising from a wildfire.
  • Acting for QBE as the lead insurer of the supplier of cladding and cladding systems on claims relating to the allegedly defective nature of the systems.

Johnson Winter & Slattery

Johnson Winter & Slattery receives praise from clients for its ‘high-quality seamless services’ in acting on both the defence and prosecution side of class action claims. The class actions practice forms part of the firm’s highly regarded dispute resolution department, and is headed up by Melbourne-based Paul Buitendag and Sydney-based Paul Reidy. Robert Johnston is singled out for ‘his exceptional reputation’ for handling litigation in the insurance and reinsurance space. Christine Small joined from Norton Rose Fulbright in July 2019. Richard Lilly departed to Allens' office in Perth.

Practice head(s):

Paul Buitendag; Paul Reidy

Other key lawyers:

Robert Johnston; Christine Small

Testimonials

All team members are highly competent

Robert Johnston is well known by insurers and peers alike, which enables sensible discussions  and facilitates achieving early solutions to issues

Key clients

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

Nakali Pty

Lifeplan Australia Friendly Society

3M

Babscay Pty

PricewaterhouseCoopers

LifeSmart Trading Pty

Australia Pacific LNG Pty

Visa Global Logistics

Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association

Work highlights

  • Acting for applicant Jones Asirifi-Otchere on a class action against Swann Insurance (Aust) Pty and Insurance Australia.
  • Acting for a former director on claims relating to the $200m collapse of RCR Tomlinson in 2018.
  • Acting for the applicants on a class action arising out of the collapse of Dick Smith.
  • Advising 3M on multiple product liability and environmental damage class actions brought against the Department of Defence as a result of the use of allegedly toxic firefighting foam.
  • Acting for administrators and insurers of a collapsed agricultural investment scheme company on defending three class actions.

Minter Ellison

At Minter Ellison, Beverley Newbold leads the national class actions practice as well as the Sydney-based dispute resolution practice. The group’s enviable client base consists of banks, insurers and other financial services organisations, among others. Newbold is leading a team defending Bellamy's Australia against multiple claims brought by shareholders alleging misleading market guidance, an area in which the team has a particular strength. Team members also have experience in advising on multi-jurisdictional matters.  Ross Freeman and David Taylor are also key practitioners to note.

Practice head(s):

Beverley Newbold

Other key lawyers:

Ross Freeman; David Taylor

Key clients

Qantas Airways

Rio Tinto

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia

National Australia Bank

Brookfield Multiplex

EnergyAustralia

Australian Taxation Office

Bellamy’s Organic

TAL

Mercer

Work highlights

  • Defending Bellamy’s Australia against multiple claims brought by shareholders alleging misleading market guidance
  • Defending Crown Resorts in a shareholder class action alleging misleading and deceptive conduct by the client in relation to a 14% share price drop in October 2016.
  • Acting for Mirvac Victoria Pty on claims by a group of purchasers at Mirvac’s Waverley Park development.
  • Co-advising The Commonwealth Bank of Australia as a defendant in a class action launched in 2016 in a US district court.

Phi Finney McDonald

Phi Finney McDonald has a notable market presence in Sydney and Melbourne and is led from Melbourne by the ‘superb trio' consisting of ‘litigation superstarBen Phi, ‘intellectual titan of the collective claims industryTim Finney, and the ‘incredible’ Odette McDonald. The firm attracts endorsements from clients and peers for its work on the plaintiff side, where it specialises in shareholder class actions. The group acts for significant domestic and international clients, including private investors, sovereign wealth funds, and investment platforms. The firm continues to expand its offering; July 2018 saw principal Paul Zawa join from the ACCC.

Practice head(s):

Ben Phi; Tim Finney; Odette McDonald

Other key lawyers:

Paul Zawa

Testimonials

The team is remarkably creative in seeking to improve outcomes for victims in securities fraud cases

The team has a depth of knowledge in the field that puts the firm at the pinnacle of all the practitioners. The high level of involvement from the principals and theoir accessibility makes dealing with the firm an effective experience

Absolutely, a top-tier firm for handling class actions on the claimant side. The firm combines the creativity and nimbleness of a boutique firm with big firm quality and experience

There is clear blue water between this firm and any other firm active in this area in Australia. No other claimant-side firm in the collective action space can rival team members’ expertise, creativity and client-reach

The whole team is excellent from top to bottom but Ben Phi and Tim Finney stand out. We would rate Ben as the most creative and forward-thinking lawyer in his space at the moment

The high level of knowledge and experience of all key principals of the firm is impressive and reassuring

Ben Phi has notable experience in Australian securities fraud class action practice, and is able to quickly identify strong arguments

I have yet to find the question to which Tim Finney could not answer in great detail

Odette McDonald has a grasp of the technical, procedural and tactical detail that is second to none.  She is a safe pair of hands on even the most complex cases

Key clients

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System

Teacher Retirement System of Texas

Pension Reserves Investment Management Board

Colorado Pera

Work highlights

  • Assisting Vince Impiombato with a shareholder class action relating to the collapse of the Fundão dam in Brazil.
  • Assisting multiple clients with bringing a shareholder class action against The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, alleging a breach of continuous disclosure obligations and misleading or deceptive conduct.
  • Assisting Clime Capital and other clients with bringing a shareholder class action against UGL Pty, alleging breaches of continuous disclosure obligations and misleading conduct relating to the performance of a joint venture construction contract.
  • Acting for an applicant in shareholder class action proceedings regarding non-disclosures and misleading conduct relating to the terms and likely performance of customer contracts.
  • Acting for Sadie Ville Pty on securities class action brought against Deloitte’s entities arising from the collapse of the Hastie Group.

Arnold Bloch Leibler

Arnold Bloch Leibler’s practice is headed up by Melbourne-based Leon Zwier. The department has a particular strength in handling shareholder class actions. Of recent note in this space, the team continues to act for Slater and Gordon on multiple shareholder class actions. Susanna Ford, Teresa Ward, Jonathan Milner and John Mitchell are also noted.

Practice head(s):

Leon Zwier

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance’s litigation and dispute resolution department is jointly headed by Angela Pearsall and Perth-based Ben Luscombe. The Australian group is a desired destination for clients seeking assistance with disputes in the resources and energy space. Team members’ particular strength lie in shareholder class actions. The team’s structure has undergone changes, with Diana Chang retiring in April 2019, as well as Jenni Hill departing to accept a judicial appointment at the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Cameron Hassall joined internally from the firm’s office in Hong Kong, and currently splits his time between China and Australia.

Practice head(s):

Angela Pearsall; Ben Luscombe

Other key lawyers:

Cameron Hassall

Key clients

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu

Deloitte Corporate Finance Pty

S&P Global Inc.

Work highlights

  • Acting for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Deloitte Corporate Finance Pty on defending claims arising from the collapse of construction conglomerate Hastie Group.
  • Acting for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Deloitte Corporate Finance Pty in relation to four sets of proceedings arising from the collapse of the Dick Smith group of companies.
  • Advising S&P Global Inc. on multiple class actions commenced in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to ratings assigned by S&P to various synthetic collateralised debt obligations.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP’s cross-practice group stands out for its strong sector-specific expertise which it utilises in handling complex collective actions. The practice stays true to the firm’s recognised ‘traditionally strong reputation for high-quality insurance and reinsurance work’ globally and certainly, John Moran  is noted for his range of expertise across disputes, insurance and cyber security and Janette McLennan is also noted for acting for the insurer-respondents on a high-value securities class action lawsuit. The team is equally adept at handling issues arising in the marine sector; Maurice Thompson is a key contact in this space and stands out for his most recent work for Murphy Operator Pty on environmental and toxic exposure actions. Gareth Horne is also noted.

Practice head(s):

John Moran; Janette McLennan; Maurice Thompson; Gareth Horne

Key clients

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

Murphy Operator Pty

Axa XL

Work highlights

  • Acting for Murphy Operator Pty on a class action brought against a port authority for environmental damage arising from vessel channel deepening and dredging activities.
  • Represented Sandhurst, owned by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, in three concurrent sets of class action proceedings in the insurance space.
  • Acting for a former executive of a listed entity on multi-party consolidated shareholder class action proceedings.
  • Representing Axa XL in shareholder class action proceedings against Crown Resorts, an action arising from Crown’s share price drop in 2016.
  • Acting for D&O insurers for Forge Group on securities class action in the Federal Court of Australia.

Colin Biggers & Paisley

Colin Biggers & Paisley receives praise from clients for ‘its proactive, candid and pragmatic approach to litigation’. The team handles significant class action claims for a client base consisting of notable insurers and their insureds. More particularly, the group also focuses on advising companies in distress or liquidation. Michael Russell heads up the class actions department, where Paul Bannon is also singled out.

Practice head(s):

Michael Russell

Other key lawyers:

Paul Bannon

Testimonials

Tough, pragmatic and always helpful

The team has a comprehensive understanding of the class action procedures. Team members are very good communicators, have excellent interaction with experts, and understand the nuances of issues that may possible arise during litigation

Michael Russell and Paul Bannon are highly competent, and also ably assisted by a team of capable senior associates

Key clients

Downer Group

Spotless

Chandler Macleod

McGrathNicol

RCR Tomlinson

Work highlights

  • Assisting Dick Smith with its defence against two shareholder class actions commenced in the NSW Supreme Court in relation to the $600m collapse of Dick Smith.
  • Representing sole defendant Spotless in shareholder class action proceedings commenced in the Federal Court of Australia.
  • Representing first defendant Equititrust in investor class action proceedings relating to the $300m collapse of the mortgage fund managed investment scheme.
  • Representing Chandler Macleod and its subsidiary Ready Workforce in employment class action proceedings.
  • Acting for RCR Tomlinson on two shareholder class actions, commenced in the NSW Supreme Court in relation to the $1bn collapse of RCR Tomlinson.

Gilbert + Tobin

Gilbert + Tobin’s class actions lawyers sit in the wider disputes and investigations department, which has continued to experience growth. The work of the practice in the financial services sector is of particular note; in one significant highlight, the team is acting for Vocation on securities class action proceedings arising out of the collapse of the Vocation group. The group is equally well-versed in representing individuals, as it is also separately acting for Vocation’s former CEO Mark Hutchinson. Practice head Richard Harris acts for a number of notable corporate entities and blue-chip clients. Colleen Platford is adept at handling class action proceedings in the commercial, regulatory and trade spaces.

Practice head(s):

Richard Harris

Other key lawyers:

Colleen Platford

Key clients

Westpac Banking Corporation

BT Financial Group

Vocation Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Vocation on two consolidated class actions claiming over A$290m.
  • Asssiting Petersen Superannuation Fund Pty with obtaining court approval of a A$12m settlement of a class action against the Bank of Queensland.

Slater and Gordon

At Slater and Gordon, Melbourne-based Ben Hardwick heads up the class actions department, where Emma Pelka-Caven, Andrew Baker and Andrew Paull are also key practitioners. The practice has a reputation for acting on class action proceedings across a variety of sectors especially in personal injury, shareholder and investor claims, commercial and consumer law claims. Of note, the team successfully acted on behalf of unit holders in Murray Goulburn’s MG Unit Trust — a collective claim which was settled for $42m.

Practice head(s):

Ben Hardwick

Squire Patton Boggs

Squire Patton Boggs has a particular strength in handling class actions arising in the insolvency and financial services sectors, which are areas of specialism for practice head Amanda Banton. Team members are adept at acting for a varied client base including middle-market and multinational companies, individuals, insolvency practitioners, governmental bodies and local councils, not-for-profit organisations, and professional services firms. Shaan Palmer and Susan Goodman are also key names to note.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Banton

Other key lawyers:

Shaan Palmer; Susan Goodman

Key clients

Oztech Pty

Caason Investments Pty

Ceramic Fuel Cells

Coffs Harbour City Council

Work highlights

  • Acted for multiple applicants on multiple proceedings against Standard & Poor’s in the Federal Court relating to synthetic collateralised debt obligations.
  • Acting for Gloucester Shire Council on class action proceedings against Fitch Ratings.
  • Representing the liquidator of Oztech Pty in class action proceedings against the Public Trustee of Queensland for breach of duty.
  • Represented Caason Investments Pty as lead applicant in a shareholder class action brought on behalf of all persons who had acquired shares in Arasor International.
  • Represented International Litigation Partner No 15 Pte, a litigation funder, in class action proceedings regarding funding fees against Slater & Gordon.