There have been a number of significant developments in the Dispute Resolution team. We have celebrated 5 recent big wins, including an appeal in a case which permits funders and insurers to provide broader forms of security for costs.
Our accolades collection has grown with recognition in the 2017 Client Choice Awards, and excellent results in both the Chambers Guide (Asia Pacific) and Legal 500 (Asia Pacific).
Our competition expertise has been bolstered with the recruitment of partner Tom Jarvis, following a 16-year stint at Norton Rose.
Ongoing case developments include matters such as the liquidations of Gunns Ltd and Linc Energy.
We look forward to presenting at the International Bar Association Conference later this year, and celebrated a win at the 'Law Rocks' battle of the bands in late December to raise funds for our pro bono client, Mary's House.
Read more about all these developments (click on the tabs at left).
International House – JWS successfully acted in Supreme Court proceedings for the manager of the International House residential college at the University of NSW, setting aside a purported termination by the University of the management arrangement that had been in place for 50 years between IHL and the University. The matter involved complex issues of charitable trusts law, which also led to the Attorney-General of NSW intervening as a party to the proceedings.
Tabcorp – JWS defended proceedings brought by Tabcorp Holdings Ltd and Tatts Group Ltd seeking substantial compensation of approximately $1.6 billion following the expiration in August 2012 of licenses held by Tabcorp and Tatts to operate gaming machines throughout Victoria. The case ran all the way to the High Court.
APCHL & DIF III Global Co-Investment Fund LP – JWS has won an appeal in a case which permits funders and insurers to provide broader forms of security for costs. Two appeal decisions were handed down in the Supreme Court of Victoria in Australian Property Custodian Holdings Ltd v. Pitcher Partners & Ors, and DIF III Global Co-Investment Fund LP & Anor v. BBLP & Ors. These have significant implications for the forms of security which can used to satisfy an order for security for costs in funded litigation matters and broaden the manner in which insurers and litigation funders can put up forms of security e.g. by way of deed of indemnity, so they do not tie up significant funds until a case is resolved, even where the entity giving security is based in a foreign jurisdiction. The two appeal decisions on security for costs applications in effect allowed a deed of indemnity from the same overseas insurer, Am Trust Europe Ltd, as an acceptable form of security.
Jemena – JWS successfully acted for Jemena in relation to a dispute notified by the Electrical Trades Union in the Fair Work Commission in respect of the company’s implementation and enforcement of a fleet management policy. The decision deals with important industrial concepts in enterprise agreements including whether a change falls within an introduction of change provision in an enterprise agreement requiring consultation with the relevant union (CEPU v Jemena Asset Management Pty Ltd  FWC 6494).
Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust (GEAT) – JWS defended a challenge made in the Supreme Court of Northern Territory to the validity of the GEAT Trust as a “charitable trust” in its claim against its former advisers and auditors Minter Ellison, KPMG and Deloitte. GEAT receives very significant mining royalties from BHPB and is one of the largest Aboriginal trusts in Australia. The claim had the potential to have very wide reaching implications for Aboriginal trusts in Australia and JWS worked collaboratively with the Northern Territory Government solicitors to defend the challenge.
Important Disclaimer: The material contained in this article is comment of a general nature only and is not and nor is it intended to be advice on any specific professional matter. In that the effectiveness or accuracy of any professional advice depends upon the particular circumstances of each case, neither the firm nor any individual author accepts any responsibility whatsoever for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of any articles. Before acting on the basis of any material contained in this publication, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation (Australia-wide except in Tasmania).
Johnson Winter & Slattery received three major accolades at the Australian Financial Review Client Choice Awards on 7 March 2017. These awards are considered the most prestigious for professional services firms in Australia since 2005. Amongst an impressive cohort of finalists, we were awarded:
These awards are significant as they are determined by the views of the people best placed to judge us – you, our clients. Winning in these categories is a testament to the excellent work and consistent effort of all members of our firm and the focus on providing outstanding service to our clients. For full details of all categories and finalists click here.
The Dispute Resolution team at JWS received a number of accolades in both the Asia Pacific Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners Guide for 2016. The Global Competition Review has also again named JWS as one of the top 100 top competition law practices in the world in the 17th edition of the GCR 100.
The Chambers and Partners Guide says: “Commentators lay particular stress on the uniformly high quality of the offering, one source remarking on the "readily accessible depth of experience and advice, with a specialist in any area where you need advice”.
The Legal 500 notes “Johnson Winter & Slattery enjoyed a number of strong results in 2015, including the ‘highly strategic’ Paul Reidy’s defence of Metagenics in a claim arising from the sale of the Australian arm of the business, and Chris Connor and founding partner Tony Johnson’s defence of the State of Victoria in High Court proceedings relating to expired gaming licences. Competition specialist Aldo Nicotra heads the team with Reidy.” For further information please click here.
According to the Global Competition Review states: “JOHNSON WINTER & SLATTERY boasts a team that, by size alone, appears capable of handling any competition matter that might come to pass… The team is busy. It is acting for Unilever, the immunity applicant, in the commission’s laundry detergent investigation, and the firm continues to advise the company as it assists the ACCC. Prysmian Group is being counselled by the firm in civil proceedings against the ACCC in relation to the cable maker’s alleged involvement in a global cable cartel that ultimately affected the Australian market.”
The Legal 500 again names Paul Reidy as one of the 20 or so leading individuals for DR Australia wide.
Chambers noted that “Paul Reidy commands extensive peer respect for his handling of complex, high-stakes litigation mandates and is praised by a client as "an outstanding litigator with impeccable judgment" who is further distinguished by his ability "to anticipate issues that will be raised by opposing lawyers or the Bench" and by "a unique talent for explaining the issues to businesspeople and making appropriate recommendations to them."”
Robert Johnston's work was also highlighted noting “his commercial litigation expertise is notably demonstrated in the class action sphere and on insurance and reinsurance issues, and he acted as lead partner advising PPB Advisory on various proceedings concerning Brisbane's troubled RiverCity tunnel infrastructure project. The recipient of high praise from both clients and peers, he is said to be "very technically smart, with a great understanding of the market" and further commended for his "ability to handle complex, multiparty, high dollar-value matters."
Chris Connor and Tony Johnson were both acknowledged for their work defending the $1 billion plus claim against Tabcorp.
Tom Jarvis is one of the country’s leading dispute resolution lawyers specialising in commercial litigation, competition, antitrust and administrative law. He joins JWS following his role as senior partner at Norton Rose where he practised for 16 years. Click here to view Tom Jarvis' profile.
DDH – JWS is representing DDH (an agent of the Bank of Queensland) in defending a class action proceeding in the Federal Court of Australia. The claim relates to a third party fraud on retail accounts managed by DDH for the Bank of Queensland and raises significant questions for the banking industry, including the level of transaction monitoring on superannuation accounts expected of financial institutions and the ability to accept instructions by email.
Linc Energy Ltd (In Liq) – JWS is acting for liquidators, PPB Advisory, in ground breaking proceedings concerning the interaction between insolvency and environmental laws in Australia, with respect to an estimated $30 million environmental clean-up liability arising from Linc Energy’s former underground coal gasification operations in Queensland. The case, which is to be heard in March 2017, has broader implications for the insolvency industry and State/Federal Governments in relation to companies undertaking environmentally hazardous activities.
Gunns Ltd (In Liq) – JWS is acting for liquidators, PPB Advisory, appointed over the Gunns Group of companies, one of the largest and oldest forestry and timber products businesses in Australia, in a claim in the Supreme Court of Tasmania against the former auditors, KPMG, in relation to their conduct of the audit of the Gunns Group in the 2009 and 2010 financial years with the value of the claim estimated in the hundreds of millions. JWS also acts in respect of 30 unfair preference claims in the Federal Court of Australia.
Australian Property Custodian Holdings Ltd (In Liq) (APCH) – JWS is acting for the liquidators, PKF Melbourne, in claims in the Supreme Court of Victoria arising from the restructure and sale of the rights to manage 12 retirement villages owned by the Prime Trust with the value of the claim in excess of approximately $60 million. JWS also acts against APCH’s auditors, Pitcher Partners, in the same jurisdiction for alleged breaches of duties in failing to identify and include in its audit report for the financial year ended 30 June 2007, several significant transactions that disposed of the assets of the Prime Trust (of which APCH acted as Responsible Entity) for no consideration. The claim is estimated at approximately $150 million.
Horizon Power – JWS is acting in Supreme Court litigation arising out of the Pilbara Undergrounding Project. Horizon Power has been joined as a Third Party in an action brought by a subcontractor against the main contractor and is counterclaiming for alleged overpayments.
Auswest Timbers – JWS is acting for Auswest Timbers Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Brickworks Ltd) in Supreme Court of Western Australia litigation regarding a contractual matter brought by a former contractor to the Pemberton Sawmill.
JWS will be presenting at the annual International Bar Association conference to be held in Sydney on 8 to 13 October 2017. 6,000 lawyers and legal professionals are expected to attend from across the world. We look forward to welcoming our colleagues and attendees from around the world.
JWS band “Jamming With Slatts” emerged victorious in “Law Rocks” battle of the bands in late 2016 at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney. More than $45,000 was raised and donated to JWS’ pro bono client, Mary’s House, a refuge for women and children escaping violence in Sydney’s Lower North Shore. Close competition was from Allens, Ashurst, Herbert Smith Freehills and Thomson Reuters but JWS claimed first prize in front of a celebrity judge’s panel and a 450-strong crowd. The play list included David Bowie, The Cure, The Smiths, Adele and Bruce Springsteen.
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