The strong class action group at Allens has particular expertise in financial services class actions, with other focuses including shareholder, product liability, cartel, natural disaster, employment and environmental damage mandates. Belinda Thompson and Jenny Campbell co-lead the class actions practice from Melbourne and Sydney, respectively, and Andrew Maher heads the disputes and investigation practice in Melbourne. A highlight for Thompson has been acting for Ford Australia in 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. Campbell has been advising the Commonwealth Bank of Australia regarding the Shine Commissions class action. In Sydney, Guy Foster and recently promoted partner Alex Tolliday are also active in the class action space.
Dispute resolution: class actions in Australia
Other key lawyers:
Crown Resorts Limited and its subsidiaries (Crown)
Westpac Banking Corporation
Nissan Motor Co (Australia) Pty Ltd
PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pty Ltd
National Australia Bank
Ford Motor Company of Australia
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
National Australia Bank
ANZ Banking Group Limited
- Advising Crown in relation to various significant matters arising in connection with the NSW Casino Inquiry, including a class action commenced by shareholders in relation to Crown’s AML/CTF framework and related disclosures.
- Advising Westpac in the Lenthall class action, commenced on behalf of customers who have obtained insurance issued by Westpac Life, on the recommendation of Westpac financial advisers, since 21 February 2011.
- Acting for PTTEP Australasia (a subsidiary of the Thailan- based PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited) in respect of a class action commenced in the Federal Court of Australia arising from the 2009 Montara oil spill.
Ashurst‘s class action team is strong in a variety of areas, including financial services, employment, automotive and shareholder disputes, acting for corporates, financial services firms and government bodies. Jeremy Chenoweth leads the dispute resolution practice in Brisbane, whilst Ian Bolster and Mark Bradley head up the class action practices in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively. Sydney-based John Pavlakis is recognised for his skills in consumer class actions and third-party funding orders. The team continues to act for Woolworths Group in defending the claim brought against it regarding alleged underpayment of store managers.
‘Experienced, thoughtful and well-rounded litigators.’
‘Easy to work with, highly commercial and switched-on disputes team. Good understanding of our values and commercial drivers. Bring thoughtful and clearly explained solutions to the client’s problems.’
‘The team has offered us great strategic insight, blended with very efficient and responsive client service and communication.’
‘Ian Bolster is an energetic, intelligent and perceptive partner. He is particularly sought after in financial services litigation. A very solid analytical lawyer with an unpretentious and genuine manner.’
‘Ian Bolster and his team are an absolute stand out. Easy going, commercial and able to think outside of the box to find solutions to complex problems. Happy to trust them with the most important pieces of litigation we have.’
‘Ian Bolster is exceptional as a litigator – focused, practical and with a clear view of the longer term objectives. ’
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
Commonwealth Government of Australia
Murray Darling Basin Authority
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society
- Acting for BMW Australia Limited in defence of a Supreme Court of NSW class action regarding allegedly defective Takata airbags.
- Acting for Woolworths in the class action brought in respect of its alleged underpayment of store managers.
- Acting for KPMG in the defence of a Supreme Court of Victoria shareholder class action against former Arrium directors and KPMG as the auditor of Arrium.
Clayton Utz‘ class action offering is led by Greg Williams, whose scientific qualifications and laboratory experience mean he is well placed to handle cases in the medical devices and pharmaceuticals sectors, in particular. The team is actively involved in developing the procedural and substantive law in this dispute resolution arena. Other recognised strengths include consumer and financial products cases, where Melbourne-based Andrew Morrison in particular has substantial expertise. Ross McInnes is adept in acting for financial institutions, whilst Colin Loveday is skilled in complex, multi-jurisdiction litigation. All named lawyers are based in Sydney unless noted otherwise.
Other key lawyers:
‘Great team players, very sympathetic characters, easy to work with – it is always a pleasure to work with CU.’
‘The CU class action team have extensive experience in various jurisdictional class action regimes around Australia. This experience allows them to deliver pragmatic advice to their clients to assist with defence/settlement strategies in confident way. CU’s forensic technology services deal with significant discovery burdens that clients would otherwise have to bear, allowing clients to get on with their day-to-day business with a minimum of distraction. CU quickly and easily integrated their invoicing system with our company’s accounts payable systems with no fuss or objection. ’
‘Greg Williams is very analytical, provides great client service, and is very likeable.’
‘Alex Rose: hands on, very pragmatic, very reliable.’
‘Greg Williams is adept in explaining complex legal concepts and processes in a simple, well-thought-out way. Greg understands the commercial drivers of corporate entities and how these interact with the legal defence of large class actions. Greg is culturally sensitive, taking into account cultural nuances when dealing with and communicating to oversees parent companies. Greg was always open to client feedback and took on board client priorities and strategies. Greg is very well respected amongst his legal colleagues from other firms, allowing him to deal with them in an effective way, whilst advancing his client’s interests. ’
Subaru (Aust) Pty Ltd
Myer Holdings Limited
AMP Life Limited
Johnson & Johnson
Bayer Australia Ltd
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Dick Smith Electronics directors Nick Abboud (former CEO) and Michael Potts (former CFO)
Victorian Department of Health and twelve (12) Victorian Health Services
- Acting in two separate class actions proceedings in Australia for both Volkswagen and Subaru in relation to the Takata airbag recall.
- Acting for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited in representative proceedings before the Federal Court of Australia concerning alleged breaches of the ASIC Act and Corporations Act.
- Advising Barclays which is one of five respondents in a complex class action brought over allegations that they manipulated the global foreign exchange market causing loss and damage to Australian consumers.
Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith Freehills has a defendant-focused class action team that is skilled in taking claims to the highest courts, including the Federal Courts and the High Court, often in precedent-setting cases. The team conducts a range of class actions across the shareholder, employment, security and product arenas. Reputable team leader Jason Betts is highly experienced in this area, with particular expertise in shareholder claims. Melbourne-based Damian Grave is noted for his experience in cases spanning across Australia and the UK, and Christine Tran is highly skilled in complex security class actions. All named lawyers are based in Sydney unless stated otherwise.
King & Wood Mallesons
King & Wood Mallesons has strengths within the government and financial services sectors and is very active in class actions arising out of the Financial Services Royal Commission. Moira Saville heads the class actions practice, with recent experience including acting for BHP in defending a class action brought on behalf of labour hire workers at the Mt Arthur coal mine. Alexander Morris acts in class actions for an impressive list of clients. Brisbane-based Justin McDonnell has been heavily involved with shaping the class action space in Queensland. Peta Stevenson has expertise in complex competition class actions, and Liam Burgess, Emma Lawrence and Sam Dundas, who are based in Sydney, Canberra and Perth, respectively, are also notable team members.
Other key lawyers:
Westpac Banking Corporation
National Australia Bank
Telstra Corporation Ltd
Commonwealth of Australia, State Governments and Government departments
- Acting for Allianz Australia Insurance Limited and Allianz Australia Life Insurance Limited in defence of two class actions in the Supreme Court of Victoria regarding the sale of add-on insurance products (such as tyre and rim insurance) sold through motor vehicle dealers.
- Acting for Woolworths Group Ltd in class action proceedings brought on behalf of shareholders regarding profit guidance given by Woolworths for the 2015 financial year and subsequent disclosures to the market.
- Acting for BHP in the defence of class action proceedings brought on behalf of labour hire workers at the Mt Arthur coal mine, which is owned and operated by BHP.
Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s Sydney-based class action team is active across a broad range of sectors and is especially strong in cases relating to financial services, employment and technology. Chris Pagent leads the team and his client roster includes listed entities, product manufacturers, technology companies, public sector clients and professional services providers. Brad Woodhouse is also a notable team member with a focus on product liability claims, along with Katrina Sleiman, who is strong in disputes involving corporate disclosures, audit reports and alleged cartel conduct.
‘The litigation/class action team at Corrs led by Chris Pagent works with both plaintiffs and defendants in class actions which provides them with a unique breadth of experience and relationships. They also have deep experience of litigation funding and working with funders. The team is passionate about they work they do and aspire to the highest standards.’
‘Corrs use billing analysts in their finance team to work with clients on their large litigation projects which is an excellent value add as budget management is critical. The team members are always lawyers of the highest calibre and well trained and supervised. There is good continuity of team members across cases which can run for 2-3 years. ’
‘In Chris Pagent, I value the following: deep technical class actions and litigation funding knowledge; perceptive listener; strong strategist and lateral thinker; strong people manager.’
‘Brad Woodhouse – I have worked less with Brad but he exhibits many of the same qualities identified above. He and Chris work seamlessly together.’
‘Lots of good quality experience. Chris Pagent has good judgment, excellent technical skills and takes a considered, strategic approach to litigation. He is well supported by bright associates.’
Deloitte Touche Tomatsu
Ernst & Young Australia
Ernst & Young UK
British American Tobacco
Johnson & Johnson
Life Without Borders
Cladding Safety Victoria
- Acting for Deloitte in connection with the defence of multiple class actions brought by aggrieved shareholders who claimed to have sustained losses following Freedom Foods’ highly publicised ASX announcements relating to material write downs in asset valuations, and restatements of prior year financial results.
- Representing UGL in a significant employment class action being pursued on behalf of casual workers who were allegedly underpaid for over three years pursuant to the terms of the then-current enterprise agreement.
- Acting for Ernst & Young LLP in defence of two class actions commenced by shareholders in Slater & Gordon Ltd against the law firm’s previous auditors, Pitcher Partners and Ernst & Young LLP.
The class actions team at Johnson Winter & Slattery acts for both defendants and plaintiffs, with particular expertise in advising litigation funders. Paul Buitendag and Paul Reidy co-lead the team from Melbourne and Sydney, respectively. Reidy acts for large corporates and board members, having recently acted for Allianz in a class action case, and Robert Johnston is adept at handling litigation in the Supreme and Federal Courts. Frances Dreyer and Andreas Piesiewicz are also key contacts. All named lawyers are based in Sydney unless noted otherwise.
‘They are unusual in that, due to their corporate client base, they act on both sides. This makes them formidable opponents because they understand a class action from all angles.’
‘A team that is full of energy – really smart people who consistently deliver. They listen to clients and work with them to get the best outcomes on cases. The partners are savvy and extremely experienced. A very safe pair of hands, and able to deal with the most complex of matters.’
‘The teams we work with have some exceptional associates who you can really trust. They are hard working and drive litigation. A number of the partners we work with too are extremely impressive and bring strategic direction to challenging litigation, and rigour to decision making.’
‘JWS has an experienced and hands-on team in its class actions practice. Something that sets them apart from other firms is their willingness and ability to get involved in the legal framing of the case and its development through to trial, and at trial. This includes legal analysis and preparation of evidence.’
‘Paul Reidy is one of only a handful of class action lawyers in Australia that I would trust with a significant investment. He is excellent – incredibly hard-working, sharp, a good strategist and very user-friendly.’
‘Paul Reidy is a highly experienced and strategic litigator. His strength is knowing when to get involved in strategic and forensic decisions, and when to let the solicitor and counsel team progress the case.’
Vasco Trustees Limited, D H Flinders Pty Ltd
Allianz Australia Limited
Former Director/Interim CEO, RCR Tomlinson Limited
Dick Smith Class action – lead applicant Mr and Mrs Mastoris on behalf of over 40 institutional investors
Edward Poljak on behalf of over 270,00 Facebook users
Administrators of Quintis and Lloyds of London insurers
- Acting for Jones Asirifi-Otchere in a large class action against Swann Insurance concerning the sale of “add-on” insurance.
- Acting for Merivale Group in a high-profile class action concerning the alleged underpayment of approximately 10,000 employees over a six-year period.
- Acting for the claimants in a large class action against Allianz in the Supreme Court of Victoria concerning the sale of “add-on” insurance products.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Global firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP is solely dedicated to litigation and arbitration, and the practice in Australia has strengths in defending corporations in contractual and product liability class actions, as well as acting for plaintiffs in the resources arena. The team is led by Damian Scattini, Michael Mills and Michelle Fox from the Sydney office.
5 Boroughs NY Pty Ltd v Victoria
Allen Dodd as trustee for the Allen Dodd Superannuation Fund v Shine Corporate
Ardent Leisure Group
Ashita Tomi Pty Ltd & Ors v RCR Tomlinson & Ors
Ewok Pty Ltd v Wellard
Moira Shire Council & Hobsons Bay City Council v Jardine Lloyd Thompson
Richmond Valley Council v Jardine Lloyd Thompson
The Takata Class Actions
Webb v GetSwift Limited and Mr Joel Macdonald
Wigmans v AMP Limited
- Representing 5 Boroughs NY Pty Ltd (as lead plaintiff, on behalf of group members in representative proceedings) in class action proceedings against the State of Victoria (and other servants and agents of the State of Victoria) in relation to alleged failures of the Victorian hotel quarantine program, which it is argued substantially caused the second wave ‘stage 3’ and ‘stage 4’ lockdowns in Victoria.
- Acting on behalf of seven lead plaintiffs who have commenced representative proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales against VW, BMW, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Nissan and Honda.
- Acting for GetSwift Limited in the Webb class action, the one remaining action following carriage proceedings in which three class actions were filed against GetSwift and its directors arising from the same subject matter.
The class actions team at DLA Piper benefits from the firm’s global presence and client base. Kieran O’Brien leads the practice, with particular strength in product liability claims. Cameron Maclean leads the Australian litigation and regulatory group and focuses on insurance-related litigation, recently acting for the State of Western Australia and for the City of Armadale in class actions relating to wildfires in Margaret River and Roleystone. The team has undergone significant growth, including the addition of Tricia Hobson, who joining the practice from Norton Rose Fulbright in June 2021, bringing expertise in natural disaster-related insurance claims.
Other key lawyers:
Gilbert + Tobin
The disputes and investigations team at Gilbert + Tobin acts for both defendants and plaintiffs, primarily in shareholder, product liability and financial services class actions. Richard Harris leads the practice and is adept at handling large regulatory, investigative and enforcement mandates. Colleen Platford has expertise in complex commercial, regulatory and trade practice matters. Both are based in Sydney.
‘A first-rate team that you can trust to be across the detail of a case. Really smart lawyers; who grapple with the complexities of the case (legal and strategic) and offer considered, measured and focused advice. Strength in depth across the whole team, with star individuals at the partner and counsel/associate level.’
‘The partners we work with at this firm are excellent all round. They are across the detail, and involved in all key workstreams and decisions. They think commercially and strategically and offer consistent case direction, confidently navigating litigation through the highs and lows, and in a reassuring way.’
‘This practice is dynamic and fast paced, offering new solutions to the legal market in a practical way. The firm deeply understands financial services clients, as well as individuals within the sector. The firm has navigated some of the most complex legal issues in history, and done so with efficiency, and the utmost professionalism.’
‘The class actions team at Gilbert & Tobin are high performing problem solvers. We think that they have a reputation for being able to manage tricky and complex situations which can arise in class actions. They are willing to provide this service to either plaintiffs or defendants and are within a very small number of firms who act on “both sides of the fence” in this area. In my experience they do not seek to squeeze any more fees than are necessary out of a matter and understand that in order to provide an effective service, this must be cost effective also. I have the impression (which is rare) that this team truly like what they do and find it intellectually satisfying.’
‘I have worked with Crispian Lynch and Rebecca Spigelman and have been very impressed with their intimate knowledge of class actions law and procedure, their commercial acumen and their ability to understand the commercial objectives of the client and to implement those objectives in an effective and timely way.’
‘Richard Harris has deep knowledge and industry leader in financial services and litigation generally.’
BT Funds Management
- Advising Macquarie Bank in relation to a class action regarding ‘flex commissions’ in its auto financing division.
- Advising QBE in relation to a class action regarding its consumer credit insurance products.
- Acting for BT Funds Management and Westpac Life Insurance Services Limited in relation to a class action brought on behalf of members of BT Super for Life Cash Option.
Minter Ellison is acting on some of the most significant class actions; James Beaton (who heads the commercial litigation group) has broad expertise and has of late represented financial institutions in a class action case involving many thousands of members of four separate superannuation funds. Ross Freeman and Beverley Newbold are highly experienced litigators who represent clients involved in class actions (in addition to work in ASIC and ASX investigations, civil penalty proceedings and the defense of civil and criminal prosecutions.
Other key lawyers:
Ross Freeman; Beverley Newbold
- Defending Crown in a shareholder class action in which the applicants allege that Crown contravened its continuous disclosure obligations and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to a 14% share price drop in October 2016.
- Defended Estia Health against a class action brought by shareholders alleging that Estia Health contravened itscontinuous disclosure obligations and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to share price drops in 2016
- Acting for OnePath Life Limited, a co-respondent with OnePath Custodians (OPC) and ANZ in the defense of a class action (in which the lawyers for the Applicants are seeking a group costs order – one of the first in Australia to be advanced).
Melbourne-based Cameron Harvey heads the litigation practice at Norton Rose Fulbright. The team adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to its class action mandates, handling shareholder, securities, natural disaster, consumer, insolvency, environmental, and product liability claims. Toby Biddle in Sydney has notable expertise in healthcare product liability class actions.
‘Great team, really aware, good advice and presents balanced options.’
HSBC Bank Australia Limited
National Australia Bank
Smith & Nephew
Thorn Australia Pty Limited
7-Eleven Stores Pty Ltd
- Representing 7-Eleven in the defence of the largest franchising class action ever litigated in Australian courts.
- Appointed the receivers and managers of Dick Smith Holdings Limited, and its appointing banks following its collapse in January 2016, which was at the time the largest and highest profile retail collapse in Australia.
- Advising long term clients, which include some of the largest life sciences and healthcare companies locally and globally to successfully assist with numerous complex product liability actions.
The plaintiff-focused team at Phi Finney McDonald acts for pension schemes, private investors, sovereign wealth funds and investment platforms from the Asia Pacific, North America and Europe. The practice is particularly strong in acting for litigation funders in shareholder class actions. The team is co-led by Ben Phi and Odette McDonald in Melbourne, and Tim Finney in Sydney.
‘We have observed a high standard of client care and significant expertise in class action litigation. We have also been impressed by the firm’s commitment to culturally appropriate engagement with plaintiff communities and an ethical approach to structuring litigation to respond to clients’ needs.’
‘Unrivalled class action expertise. The team you want with you in the trenches – they know the corporate defendant playbook inside out.’
‘The people at PFM that I worked with were different from other practitioners because of the level of commitment and dedication they brought to the work. Brett Spiegel and Ben Phi are exceptional – strategic thinkers with a real commitment to their clients.’
‘Both their legal and strategic acumen is second to none, with a full service offering on class action matters.’
‘Ben Phi has the perfect all-round mix of commercial acumen and technical strength. Odette McDonald is super dedicated and fully immerses herself in her case work, living and breathing each step of the claim.’
‘Tim Finney is in the detail of claims, provides excellent strategic and legal advice in relation to class action matters and is a clear and concise communicator. A true pleasure to work with.’
‘Brett Spiegel is a class action specialist, with a wide range of experience, both domestically and internationally. He is always available and is extremely responsive. Brett has been willing to dedicate significant pro bono hours towards important public interest matters. He is client-focussed and comes up with creative legal solutions to seemingly impossible problems that arise on a case.’
‘Ben Phi, Odette McDonald and Tim Finney are well-regarded for their astuteness and legal expertise, as well as their commerciality, professionality and courtesy. Together they have led many class actions with successful results. I have also worked closely with principal lawyers Roop Sandhu, Brett Spiegel and Jeremy Zimet, who are all outstanding lawyers and assets to the firm.’
Californian State Teachers Retirement System
Teachers Retirement System of Texas
- Acting for Vince Impiombato and others (including institutional investor clients) in a shareholder class action against BHP Ltd/plc in Australia, the first time the court has held that an Australian class action can seek damages for shareholders who held their shares on the London Stock Exchange.
- Acting for CalSTRS, Texas TRS, Colorado PERA, Massachusetts PRIM and others in a shareholder class action against Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
- Acting for Edmund How Fen Yong and others (including institutional investor clients) in a shareholder class action against Westpac Banking Corporation.
Clyde & Co LLP
The disputes team at Clyde & Co LLP conducts class actions within the insurance, construction, maritime and employment sectors. Notable team members include Lucinda Lyons, Janette McLennan and John Moran in Sydney, and Maurice Thompson in Melbourne. The client roster includes corporates, insurers and individuals.
Murphy Operator Pty Ltd, Tobari Pty Ltd, SPW Pty Ltd
Beazley Syndicates 2623/623 at Lloyd’s (Beazley)
Approximately 500 clients in the Australian fisheries sector (including commercial fishers, commercial prawn farmers and seafood importers)
- Representing clients in a class action against a Port Authority seeking circa $150m in damages for environmental harm arising from vessel dredging in the port of Gladstone which decimated local fisheries.
- Acting for AXA XL in relation to two shareholder class actions launched against Crown Resorts Limited.
- Acting for clients as defence counsel in the multiparty consolidated shareholder class action against Vocation.
Colin Biggers & Paisley
Sydney-based Michael Russell leads the dispute and investigations team at Colin Biggers & Paisley. The practice is adept at defending insurers and corporate clients against class action claims, with a particular emphasis on companies in liquidation. The team also acts as coverage and monitoring counsel.
‘The practice is unique in that they offer great value in large and complex matters, particularly class actions’
‘Michael Russell is extremely commercial and builds strong relationships with clients and other practitioners.’
‘Adrian Konstantinidis is detail focussed, and is willing to put in the hard yards for his clients.’
- Acted for Spotless, as the sole defendant, in a shareholder class action commenced in the Federal Court which was settled in late 2020 for $95M.
- Acting for DSHE Holdings Limited (receiver and manager appointed) in the defence of two shareholder class actions commenced in the NSW Supreme Court in relation to the $600m collapse of Dick Smith.
- Acting for RCR Tomlinson in defence of three shareholder class actions, commenced in the NSW Supreme Court in relation to the $1bn collapse of RCR Tomlinson.
The dispute resolution and litigation team at Piper Alderman undertakes class actions for both plaintiffs and defendants, with particular strengths in shareholder and financial mandates. The team is also adept at acting for litigation funders. The Brisbane team is led by Greg Whyte, while Martin Del Gallego is also a name of note in Sydney.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team are highly engaged and efficient, quickly turning around good quality work product and effectively managing a number of complex matters.’
‘Piper Alderman’s class action team has breadth and depth and covers multiple AU jurisdictions. This makes it a “one stop shop” and obvious go to for funded class actions.’
‘The stand-out class actions partner in Sydney is Martin del Gallego, who combines energy and enthusiasm with experience and expertise gained in AU and overseas.’
‘The partner and senior associate team members of Piper Alderman (particularly in Brisbane) has been a stable and consistent group for a number of years. This kind of legacy provides certainty, familiarity, and consistent business relationships. A key benefit this long standing team is that there is accountability and ownership by all its members, which not only results in quality legal work but also excellent client service and communication. The team (and firm) is also willing and proactive in discussing commercial billing structures/arrangements.’
‘Intelligent, commercial, inventive, strategically focused, accountable, practical and genuine.
‘High level of competence in the practice area; work for both applicants and respondents; experience in running cases to trial; ability to deploy significant resources to meet deadlines.’
‘Martin del Gallego is very user-friendly. He is a good strategic thinker, calm and capable.’
‘Martin del Gallego is gaining a real profile in the class actions space.’
Giabal Pty Ltd
Stillwater Pastoral Pty Ltd
Woodsford Litigation Funding
- Acting for clients in the the largest energy class action in Australian history against Queensland’s two largest electricity generators, Stanwell Corporation and CS Energy, on behalf of over 46,000 electricity consumers, including over 1,700 businesses.
- Acting for Zoetis Australia defending a $53m class action brought by the owners of horses which were administered with the Hendra Virus vaccine developed by Zoetis, who allege the horses suffered side effects from the vaccine.
- Acting for clients in a $200m class action, funded by Woodsford Litigation Funding, against AMP Financial Planning Limited, Charter Financial Planning Limited, Hillross Financial Services Limited, AMP Limited and AMP Life Limited.