Sam Johnson Partner

Sam is a partner in our dispute resolution group specialising in commercial dispute resolution, insolvency and media law.

Sam has 20 years’ experience advising clients across many sectors including the banking and finance, investment funds, media, education, energy and resources and government sectors.

Sam’s experience spans many of the most complex and substantial insolvencies that have taken place in Australia across the last 20 years including Ovato, Halifax Investment Services, RiverCity, One.Tel, Allco and Harris Scarfe.  He is a Professional Member of ARITA, a member of INSOL and the TMA and advises insolvency practitioners in their capacity as voluntary administrators, deed administrators, receivers and liquidators in relation to all aspects of their administration. He has authored over 30 published articles on insolvency related issues.

Sam also has extensive experience advising both print and television media in relation to defamation, legislative restrictions on publication and copyright.

Sam has been listed as a leading lawyer in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Insolvency and Reorganisation Law in Best Lawyers Australia since 2019 and as a key lawyer in restructuring and insolvency and also media and entertainment law in Asia Pacific Legal 500 2021.

Prior to joining JWS Sam studied at the University of Cambridge where he received a Masters of Law degree and was awarded the Clifford Chance CJ Hamson Prize for Comparative Law. He then worked in the London office of a large US law firm, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, where he worked on some of Europe’s largest restructurings and insolvencies including TXU Europe, British Energy and Parmalat. 

Sam has contributed 15 articles as part of our recent  publication "JWS  Insolvency & Restructuring Case Summaries 2021-2022". Read more here


Insolvency-related dispute resolution

Ovato Group

Advising the administrators of the Ovato Group in relation to all aspects of this substantial and ongoing administration including managing several successful applications to the Federal Court and successfully applying to the Commonwealth Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations for a rare declaration under s49 of the FEG Act.


Acting for the liquidators of a major global commodities trading firm out of Singapore in relation to potential claims against Australian insurers.


Acted on the most significant remaining litigation of a liquidation spanning 12 years to provide a “game changing” approach on the liquidator’s major negligence action against the global auditors. Also assisted the liquidators in dealing with complex and conflicted Committee of Inspection approvals, Supreme Court proceedings against the ATO and progressing all necessary court approvals for the steps taken by the liquidators.

Halifax Investment Services

Acting for Ferrier Hodgson (now KPMG) in their capacity as voluntary administrators of Halifax Investment Services.

Flow Systems Group of Companies

Advised Brookfield, in its capacity as a shareholder and major secured creditor on the DOCA proposal and the acquisition of the business through DOCA (involving the preservation of business) and related contentious issues.

Maria’s Farms Veggies

Advising the liquidators on all aspects of the liquidation including the sale of the underlying assets.


Advising the Special Purpose Liquidator on obtaining a release for the Special Purpose Liquidator pursuant to section 480(c) of the Corporations Act (In the matter of One.Tel Limited (in liquidation) [2014] NSWSC 1892).

PrimeSpace Property Investment

Advising the liquidators of PrimeSpace Property Investment (in liquidation) in relation to various contentious issues.


Advising the liquidators of the RiverCity Group companies in large and complex litigation heard by the Federal Court of Australia.

TXU Europe

Acting on behalf of the administrators and liquidators of the TXU Europe holding companies in securing a US$235 million pre- action settlement of claims against directors and shareholders, and defending a minority creditor challenge to voluntary arrangements giving effect to the settlement.

Wine Investment Services

Managing complex interlocutory applications on behalf of the liquidators of Wine Investment Services (in liquidation) seeking orders that they be appointed court appointed receivers over certain wine stock and directions that they should adjudicate on claims to the wine stock, sell any surplus wine stock and distribute the sale proceeds.


Advising the liquidators (and formerly the administrators) of AWA Ltd including obtaining an order pursuant to section 447D of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) that the administrators would be justified entering into a proposed transaction with a commercial lender to pay out a secured creditor and to retire receivers.


Successfully defending an appeal brought by a creditor pursuant to s1321 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) against the deed administrators’ decision to reject a proof of debt (Schmitt v Carter[2014] FCA 1370).

Commercial litigation

Rivalea Australia

Acting for Rivalea Australia in successful Supreme Court proceedings seeking access to a substantial amount of grain.

Macquarie Bank

Managed numerous litigated matters including substantial Supreme Court litigation, facilitated settlement negotiations on behalf of the client, and advised in relation to various ad hoc legal issues.

University of Newcastle

Managing the firm’s representation and advising in relation to defamation and administrative law issues.

University of New England

Managing the firm’s representation and advising in relation to defamation and administrative law issues.

University of Adelaide

Assisting with the firm’s representation and advising in relation to defamation, copyright and various contentious issues.

University of South Australia

Managing the firm’s representation and advising in relation to defamation, copyright and various contentious issues.

Broken Hill Prospecting (BPL)

Principal advisor to the ASX listed company on all contentious legal issues, including managing substantial Supreme Court litigation involving BPL.


Assisted with the firm’s representation of ASIC and bringing to a successful conclusion, compensation claims instituted by ASIC pursuant to section 50 of the ASIC Act against the auditors and former directors of the failed Westpoint Group of Companies. This litigation was one of the largest and most complex claims ever made in Australia.

Media law

Are Media (formerly Bauer Media)

Providing pre-publication advice to all publications, including Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Day and New Idea, and advising on ad hoc contentious issues.

Channel 7

Providing pre-publication advice in relation to Channel 7’s online digital content.

Yahoo Inc

Providing pre-publication advice to Yahoo Inc in relation to their online digital content.

Fairfax Media and Rural Press

Provided pre-publication advice to numerous publications, including the Sydney Morning Herald, including defending numerous defamation proceedings.

Channel 9

Seconded as Acting Corporate Counsel for an 18 month period and advised in relation to pre-publication issues for print and television media and various contentious issues.


Career & qualifications


  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Adelaide
  • Bachelor of Laws (Hons), University of Adelaide
  • Master of Laws, University of Cambridge

International experience

  • Three years as a solicitor in the financial restructuring group, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, London



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