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Australia > Transport > Transport: aviation > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Transport: aviation
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

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

‘The service is very good’ at HWL Ebsworth, and the team attracts ‘matters that require a deep understanding of aviation legislation and regulations’. It counts household names such as Qatar Airlines and Sydney Airport among its clients and regularly acts for aviation service providers,  insurers, airports and airlines. Richard Davis, who possesses ‘great experience and understanding of Australian aviation law’, assists Newcastle Airport with its planned expansion, in particular with planning and environmental issues, property development and commercial and corporate requirements. The team is also advising Korean Jin Air on its application to commence services in Australia. Simon Liddy leads on aviation matters, and Davis heads the commercial and airports department. The recommended Matthew Brooks regularly acts for airlines and insurers in relation to claims and disputes brought by passengers and third parties.

Ernest van Buuren heads the transport practice at Norton Rose Fulbright and is experienced in handling major aviation incidents, regulatory matters and air charter and ground handling agreements. Aviation team practice head Tom Young is an expert in the use and regulation of drones. He also excels in aviation and airport industry regulatory matters and recently advised a client on aeronautical legislation and environmental requirements in relation to a major construction project. In another highlight, the practice advised an airline on its lease renewals. Dale Rayner left to join King & Wood Mallesons.

Sydney-based Norton White excels in liability, regulatory and commercial matters, acting for a range of aviation industry clients such as airlines, operators and insurance companies. Mark Mackrell and Ben Martin are the names to note. The practice regularly handles cargo and passenger liability claims, renders regulatory advice and advises on aircraft transactions; the team also has notable aircraft finance expertise.

Allens provides a ‘first class’ service and has ‘very good aviation sector knowledge’. Practice head Emma Warren is ‘very strategic, commercial and responsive’; she regularly advises airports on commercial agreements, property rights and developments. Fiona Crosbie is another key name and advises aviation-sector clients on competition and regulatory requirements. She assisted Sydney Airport with terminal lease negotiations as well as the Western Sydney Airport development, while Julian Donnan handled the related finance work, including an asset swap and capital raising. On the property side, Victoria Holthouse acted for Perth Airport on the Terminal 3 upgrade following an agreement with Qantas to operate direct flights from Perth to London. The team is also noted for its aviation finance expertise.

Clayton Utz acts for private-sector airport operators, international airlines and government departments. Notable clients include the Australian Airports Association. Canberra-based practice head Andrew Leece handles regulatory and infrastructure work and advised the Commonwealth of Australia on the Western Sydney Airport development. Highlights also included assisting Virgin Australia with its acquisition of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft. On the regulatory side, the team advised a number of airports on safety matters, building approvals and the Airports Act.

Clyde & Co LLP specialises in high-value disputes, regulatory issues, corporate transactions and insurance claims. The team has considerable experience handling aviation liability matters and is representing Malaysia Airlines on passenger claims and legal issues following the loss of flights MH370 and MH17, and acts exclusively for Emirates on its attritional claims. It can draw on the firm’s network and regularly attracts cross-border work. The team headed by Maurice Thompson has been bolstered by Ankush Chauhan's arrival from HWL Ebsworth. Melbourne-based James Cooper  is an expert in cargo and baggage claims, personal injury and compliance and regulatory issues.

Andrew Tulloch heads the insurance-focused aviation practice at Colin Biggers & Paisley. The client roster predominately consist of airlines, insurers and aircraft operators who receive advice on policy wording as well as air cargo damage and personal injury matters. Tulloch also handles fatality claims, representing both defendants and claimants. He advises QBE Aviation and its insured, the Australia Sport Rotorcraft Association, on a matter pertaining to the crash of a gyrocopter. Tulloch and Marcus Saw also act for QBE Insurance in relation to a Beechcraft Super King Air aircraft which impacted a shopping centre, resulting in five fatalities. Matthew Bode regularly handles aircraft acquisition and leasing transactions.

Minter Ellison acts for airports on design, construction, operation, finance and upgrade matters and represents airlines in contentious, competition and regulatory matters. Beverley Newbold leads on the contentious side and finance specialist James Mok acted for Qantas on the restructuring of leases and a number of aircraft acquisitions. The team also includes Justin Oliver, a commercial and regulatory specialist, who represented the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in a successful appeal in relation to price-fixing proceedings issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) against Flight Centre, a case that raised questions regarding the agency relationship between airlines and travel agents. It also advised IATA on aspects of its passenger agency programme, which allows passengers to purchase tickets from any accredited agent in their local currency.

The aviation finance team at Herbert Smith Freehills counts a major Southeast Asian airline, Deutsche Bank and a large Australian bank among its clients. Practice head John Angus and Sydney-based Amanda Wales are the names to note; the pair acted for Virgin Atlantic on a £220m secured bond financing in which the airline’s take-off and landing slots at London's Heathrow Airport were the security for the debt. The team also advised Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) on a secured debt facility for the funding of a corporate jet by an Australian-based private company. Secured financing structures, leasing, export credit, pre-delivery payment financing and highly structured cross-border products are areas in which the team excels.

Rebecca Johnston and David Hodgkinson jointly head aviation and aerospace boutique HodgkinsonJohnston. It specialises in all aspects of aerospace and aviation law and has expertise in the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems and drones. Sales and purchases of aircraft and aviation businesses are also focus areas, as are leases and aviation-specific contracts. It assisted the Aviation Aerospace Alliance with the development of its searchable database of global aviation laws and regulations, Aviation Law Global. A further highlight saw the pair acting for SC Aviation on a cross-jurisdictional private jet aircraft acquisition and the sale and purchase of a Challenger 604 aircraft. Clients include airlines, corporations and governments.

With a focus on aviation finance, King & Wood Mallesons acted for several aviation clients on the financing, sale and lease novation of 14 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. It also assisted Engine Lease Finance with a structured operating lease facility for six engines to Virgin Australia and advised two major financial institutions on a A$2bn master loan note facility programme for Qantas. John Canning and Dale Rayner, who joined from Norton Rose Fulbright, jointly lead the team; Canning is experienced in cross-border structured finance transactions in the aviation sector and Rayner focuses on asset and structured finance. Aviation-related dispute resolution and regulatory work are also areas of expertise.

Mills Oakley ‘responds to issues quickly’ and the team is ‘very strong and client focused’. The ‘calm and collected’ Gavin Douglas receives praise for his ‘adaptability’ and ability to ‘very quickly get up to speed with different laws’; he jointly heads the practice with Tom Lennox. Key strengths include domestic and cross-border transactions in the sector, aircraft trading and financing, charter agreements, regulatory compliance and aircraft operating agreements. It has a niche specialism in fixed and rotary wing aircraft operations and regulations. The client roster includes Qantas, Regional Express Holdings and Babcock Offshore Services.

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