As with trade practices related legislation, Australian company law has undergone considerable evolution since the enactment of domestic legislation based on the Companies Act 1862 ( UK). The major developments have involved attempts to bring about uniform companies legislation throughout the States and Territories.
The current Corporations Act 2001 and related Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act) was the result of an agreed referral by the States of all corporations and related matters to the Commonwealth. Further, following the enactment of the ASIC Act, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission is now responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection provisions in relation to financial services.
The current legislation continues to develop through the current incarnation of the Corporate Law Economic Reform Program Act 1999, the Corporate Law Economic Reform Program (Audit Reform and Corporate Disclosure) Act 2004 which followed recent corporate collapses in Australia and the United States.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has been involved in numerous recent and long running cases concerning alleged breaches of directors' duties and other breaches of the Corporations Act. Some of these cases have been the subject of recent High Court decisions which have sought to clarify this complex and difficult area of law. See, for example:
- Forest v ASIC; Fortescue Metals Group Ltd v ASIC (2012) 291 ALR 399
- ASIC v Hellicar (2012) 286 ALR 501
I am well placed to assist in this area of law.
I have appeared in a number of proceedings for ASIC.
I appeared as Junior Counsel on a number of interlocutory matters concerning six high profile civil penalty proceedings brought by ASIC in the Victorian Supreme Court against former officers of AWB. This included appearing as Junior Counsel at trial in one of the proceedings and a related successful appeal: see AWB Ltd (No 10), Re ASIC v Lindberg (No 2) (2010) 26 VR 355
I have also recently appeared as Counsel for ASIC as an interested party in an examination of directors following the collapse of Bill Express Limited: see Re Bill Express Ltd (No 2) (2010) 250 FLR 42; Bill Express Ltd (No 4)  VSC 318.
I also recently appeared as Junior Counsel in a large class action proceeding brought by investors in Timbercorp managed investment schemes. The proceeding concerned alleged breaches of the Corporations Act including, in particular, provisions concerning product disclosure statements. This matter is currently on appeal.
Additionally, I have:
- Acted in a number of Supreme Court proceedings against financial advisers alleging breaches of the Corporations Act 2001 and related fiduciary duties;
- Appeared in a number of proceedings brought by shareholders in actions against companies and directors for breaches of the Corporations Act;
- Acted in a number of oppression proceedings and shareholder disputes;
- Acted in proceedings brought under the ASIC Act alleging misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to the provision of financial services;
- Acted for guarantors in Supreme Court proceedings brought by banks; and
- Presented a number of seminars on directors' duties under the Corporations Act.