Our litigation team assists clients to resolve their commercial or financial disputes through alternative dispute resolution or, where appropriate, court or tribunal proceedings. We act for clients in all Courts and Tribunals throughout Australia. We also have experience acting on behalf of parties to arbitration, seated both domestically and internationally.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, are often the quickest and most cost-effective way to resolve disputes and achieve beneficial outcomes.
Our approach typically involves assisting our clients to identify their strengths, identify and exploit the other party’s weaknesses, and apply commercial pressure to bring about an advantageous result.
As an example of our work, we assisted a major player in the logistics industry who was engaged in intense negotiations with one of Australia’s largest retailers regarding its present and future contractual arrangements. We formulated our clients' negotiating strategy and implemented it from behind the scenes by scripting our client’s communications. Our assistance enabled our client to achieve an excellent commercial result without needing to bring court proceedings.
Sometimes the best or only option to enforce a client’s rights is to commence court proceedings. At other times we act for clients who are on the receiving end of proceedings.
As litigation is often a stressful and costly distraction from our clients’ everyday activities, we vigorously prosecute or defend our clients’ interests to achieve the best available outcome as quickly and cheaply as possible. In the vast majority of cases, we are able to resolve matters before trial.
Our litigation practice covers all commercial areas, including the breakdown of business and financial relationships, contractual disputes, trade practices, insolvency, intellectual property, commercial property, disputes with Australian Taxation Office, professional negligence and franchising disputes.
Our experience in this area has been extremely diverse. Examples of our work include:
- acting in the litigation and settlement of a dispute relating to the ownership of one of Australia's leading winemakers including, as part of the settlement, sale of part of the operations to a European multinational;
- acting in a long running dispute for the control of a discretionary trust by bringing successful court proceedings to replace the trustee, and then successfully defending appeals by the deposed trustee;
- conducting hard-fought litigation on behalf of a franchisee against one of Australia’s largest retail franchisors for misleading and deceptive conduct, which resulted in the court awarding our client substantial compensation. We then successfully defended an appeal by the franchisor;
- successfully defending a claim brought against a controller appointed under the Corporations Act who had sold the debtor company’s business assets to an associated entity of the controller. We then successfully obtained the summary dismissal of an appeal against the court’s decision;
- successfully defending an accounting firm against a multi-million dollar professional negligence claim involving complex international tax structures.
Shareholder, Partnership, Joint Venture & Unitholder Disputes
Breakdown between partners or shareholders in a business relationship can be very distressing, however it often also presents an opportunity for parties to take control of their financial circumstances and reshape their working lives.
We have assisted clients to extricate themselves from unsatisfactory day-to-day working arrangements, and from joint ventures or jointly held investments which have become unmanageable, often by finding leverage for our clients in the forensic analysis not only of their own interests but also of the interests of the opposing party.
We have also acted for a number of clients in professional advisory industries, assisting partners in accounting and legal firms to separate their professional and business affairs and avoid costly and protracted litigation.
We advise and represent clients undertaking negotiations with, or undergoing investigation by, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Crimes Authority, the Australian Taxation Office (especially in connection with our insolvency practice) and the Australian Customs Service.