The latest insights into our case developments, matters in the spotlight, and broader news in the dispute resolution space.
We acted for the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) in proceedings against two of Australia’s largest banks, the ANZ and Westpac bank, for alleged market manipulation and rigging of the bank bill swap rate (BBSW) for financial gain. The cases were similar to the UK Libor litigation as BBSW is a key benchmark rate used when setting the cost of financial products in various futures and derivative markets which also has a flow on effect for business loans. The proceedings involved complicated claims and required detailed understanding of the bank bill market and derivative and futures markets and related trading models. The ANZ claim settled prior to trial and the Westpac claim ran to hearing and is awaiting judgment.
We continue to act for the lead applicants in a class action in the Federal Court against S&P Global Inc., for losses from investments made in complex structured financial products known as synthetic collateralised debt obligations rated by leading global ratings agency, Standard & Poor's, and sold through investment bank, Lehman Brothers’ Australian subsidiary. The allegations include claims that Standard & Poor’s incorrectly rated the products and lacked independence in assigning ratings.
We act for liquidators, PKF Melbourne, in the Supreme Court of Victoria in claims arising from the restructure and sale of the rights to manage 12 retirement villages, the claim being in excess of $60 million. JWS also acts against the company’s former auditors, Pitcher Partners, in a claim of approximately $150 million for alleged breaches of duties in relation to its audit report for the financial year ended 30 June 2007. Trial is set down for 16 weeks in February 2018 and is currently being mediated.
We continue to act for the liquidators of Gunns Ltd (In Liq) and its group of companies in relation to three claims with a combined value of approximately $150 million that arise from the collapse of one of Australia’s largest timber and forestry management companies. Claims include:
JWS continues to act for the liquidators of Linc Energy in ground breaking proceedings against the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection concerning the interaction between insolvency and environmental laws with respect to an environmental clean-up liability arising from Linc Energy’s former underground coal gasification operations in Queensland.
We act for the applicant in a shareholder class action against Pitcher Partners, the auditors of Slater + Gordon. This claim follows class action proceedings commenced against Slater + Gordon in June 2017, in which JWS acts. It is alleged that by publishing its independent audit and review reports from 2012 to 2015, Pitcher Partners made representations to the market which induced investors and potential investors to purchase shares in Slater + Gordon at inflated prices.
On 30 November 2017, the Australian Government announced a royal commission to investigate misconduct in the nation’s banks and other financial services entities. Former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne has been appointed to lead the royal commission, to will begin early in 2018. According to the Government’s media release, it will consider the conduct of banks, insurers, financial services providers and superannuation funds and how equipped regulators are to identify and address misconduct.
An inquiry is being conducted into the increasing rate of class actions in Australia financed by litigation funders. The inquiry will be undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission to “ensure that litigants who are seeking to enforce their rights using the services of litigation funders and/or through group proceedings are not exposed to unfair risks or disproportionate cost burdens.” The Commission’s report is due by 31 March 2018.
On 20 December 2017, Christian Porter was sworn in as Attorney-General of Australia to replace George Brandis. Mr Brandis will be the next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, replacing Alexander Downer. Mr Porter was previously Minister for Social Services and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
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The latest signpost on the long road to defamation law reform appears to point to another departure from national uniformity with the announcement that not all states are on-board for a revised set...
In its first review of a merger authorisation application since the current regime came into effect in 2017, the Australian Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) has upheld the Australian Competition and...
A recent Federal Court decision has resulted in a $1.65 million penalty being imposed on a pathology service provider for paying rents for collection sites within medical centres at significantly...