Dispute Resolution Update - February 2019

Articles Written by Paul Buitendag (Partner)

Accolades: JWS awarded Band 1 for Dispute Resolution by Asia Pacific Legal 500

JWS continues to be recognised for its legal excellence. Our Dispute Resolution team was listed as a Band 1 Practice in the Asia Pacific Legal 500 for 2019. We also congratulate Paul Reidy, Partner, for again being named as a Leading Individual in Dispute Resolution. View the full Asia Pacific Legal 500 listings.

We are privileged to represent Australian and international corporations with their complex legal disputes. Our unique place in the Australian market combines top-tier capabilities with a service model that sees the hands-on involvement of our partners. Our focus on the best commercial outcome for our clients, mindful of costs, reputation and the need to adapt, continue to be recognised in awards and top rankings in international directories.

Big case developments and wins

Royal Commission: JWS acted for Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) in the Royal Commission to investigate misconduct in the nation’s banks, insurers, financial services providers and superannuation funds. After a year involving seven rounds of hearings across the country, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne has submitted his final report. 

Lifeplan Australia Friendly Society Ltd: JWS acted for the lead applicants Lifeplan Australia Friendly Society Ltd, Big Sky Building Society Ltd (both subsidiaries of Australian Unity Ltd) and Defence Health Ltd in a class action in the Federal Court against S&P Global Inc, for multi-million dollar losses from investments made in complex structured financial products, known as synthetic collateralised debt obligations, rated by leading global ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s (S&P), and sold through the Australian subsidiary of investment bank Lehman Brothers. The allegations included claims that S&P incorrectly rated the products and lacked independence in assigning ratings. In March 2018, Justice Lee approved the settlement of the Lifeplan class action. JWS was appointed Administrator of the Settlement Distribution Scheme. Final distributions to Group Members were made in December 2018 and the administration of the Scheme is now finalised.

Quintis: JWS continues to act for the defendants in three separate securities class actions arising out of the collapse of the Quintis group and the loss of funds in its Indian Sandalwood Plantation across Northern Australia. JWS was appointed by insurers and receivers to take over the conduct of the defence of Quintis. The cases involve breaches of continuous disclosure rules and allegations of significant accounting irregularities.

RCR Tomlinson Limited (administrators appointed): JWS is acting for the Interim CEO and a number of executive personnel of RCR Tomlinson Limited (administrators appointed) in relation to enquiries and litigation commenced in the lead up to and following the collapse of the Company in November 2018.

Gunns Ltd (receivers & managers appointed) (in liquidation): We continue to act for the liquidators of Gunns Ltd and its group of companies in three claims with a combined value of approximately $150 million, and act in the defence of an action, which arose from the collapse of one of Australia’s largest timber and forestry management companies.

Dick Smith: JWS continues to act for the applicants, and a class of predominantly institutional investors, in a class action against the failed Dick Smith company. The claim, worth over $300 million, concerns misleading statements allegedly made in the Dick Smith Prospectus and subsequent market disclosures regarding inventory, rebates and buying practices.

Pitcher Partners: JWS continues to act for the applicant in a shareholder class action against Pitcher Partners, the auditors of Slater and Gordon (S&G). This claim follows class action proceedings in which JWS acted, commenced against S&G in June 2017. It is alleged that by publishing its independent audit and review reports from 2012 to 2015, Pitcher Partners made representations in relation to the financial reports of S&G which resulted in the market price of S&G shares being inflated.

Defending Foreign Bribery Criminal Prosecution Charges: Acting for former Director and Officer of Sinclair Knight Merz, who has been charged, together with the company and other individuals, with conspiracy to bribe a foreign public official in contravention of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, in connection with aid-funded infrastructure projects in Vietnam. The matter is before the Local Court of NSW with the expectation of trials before the NSW Supreme Court if the defendants are committed to stand trial.

Transactional Governance, Compliance Advice and Investigations Work: Advising a range of Australian and international companies on internal and external company and regulatory investigations by the AFP, ASIC and offshore agencies, due diligence issues for corporate acquisitions, investment issues for offshore projects, review of internal compliance, ABAC and whistle-blower protection policies, advice on application of Australian, US and other sanctions, advice on fraud and asset recovery matters, reviewing money laundering policies and reporting issues.

Employment litigation: JWS continues to represent clients in the most high profile and/or complex employment litigation before the Courts currently, including: Michelle Guthrie v The ABC, Anna Monteiro v Technology One and Aerocare v TWU, and various employment class action claims regarding independent contractors and underpayment claims.


International Bar Association

Leading Senior JWS lawyers will be attending the annual International Bar Association Conference in Seoul, South Korea from 22 to 27 September 2019. We will meet colleagues from around the globe to strengthen and forge new relationships.

Latest insights

December 2018
Foreign Bribery Update: December 2018 by Robert Wyld
Class actions in Australia’s employment law landscape: 2019 and beyond by Jan Dransfield and Tom Brett

November 2018
BOQ caught out on insurance policy clause by Robert Johnson

October 2018
Recalibration of funding commissions to better link risk and reward by Toni Vozzo

September 2018
Linc Energy – High Court refuses special leave to Qld State Government by David Proudman and Dougal Ross

June 2018
Competing class actions & beauty parades – and the winner is…? by Toni Vozzo


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).

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