Clayton Utz

Competition/Antitrust Department

Australia
Current View:

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What the team is known for Ready engagement with especially complex issues, particularly large cross-border mergers and alleged cartels; also prominent in the energy and resources, financial services, media and telecommunications sectors and increasingly active on the competition aspects of major infrastructure projects. A favoured Australian choice for referrals from international law firms thanks to its independence from formal alliances, much of its work focuses on the representation of global market leaders in their dealings with the Australian competition law authorities. Primarily Sydney-based, with additional resources in offices in Brisbane and Perth, and highly valued as part of a well-integrated, national full-service firm, equipped to provide back-up on corporate or commercial issues.

Strengths The practice is a natural first choice for several clients, good prior experience often being cited. One interviewee says: "They'd given us good direction, so it was a no-brainer to go to them again." Another reports: "We had free rein to choose and we chose them – for their technical expertise and because we knew they could provide accurate, precise advice and protect our interests; they have a breadth of experience in this area and there's no other offering that competes."

Sources also testify to the team's focus on key objectives. One remarks: "I don't worry at all that we will need to revisit the work once it has been done. Everything is well thought through, and the lawyers are confident and committed to the best outcome possible for us." Another adds: "In competition litigation, it's easy not to see the wood for the trees, but this team doesn't do that; they are always very focused on the issues that matter and I would recommend them above anyone else."

Work highlights Advised Quadrant Energy and its associated consortium of sellers on the complex competition considerations of its USD2.15 billion sale to Santos, helping to secure ACCC clearance after a 30-day public review.

Notable practitioners

Bruce Lloyd stands out for his knowledge of access issues impacting on major infrastructure projects and particular familiarity with the telecommunications and automotive sectors. One client says: "I am amazed at how quickly he can get his head round industry issues and then, with specific knowledge of our brand, frame really solid guidance on how we should proceed." Another expresses "nothing but trust in his advice on risks and recommended ways forward."

Elizabeth Richmond receives positive feedback from clients and fellow professionals, testifying to her increasing prominence acting for household-name clients on contentious or potentially contentious competition mandates. A client compliments her as a "cool, calm and collected" adviser who is "very commercial in her approach, always available to anyone needing her help and advice, and very respectful but ready to challenge." Another interviewee describes her as having proved "very smart, very methodical and very organised" in the management of "a major piece of litigation in a very short timeframe."

Practice head Kirsten Webb operates across the competition spectrum, handling sensitive merger clearance, key regulatory advisory and enforcement-related mandates in a "very commercial" manner that is also "open to exploring non-traditional options and situations." She is valued as someone who "can build highly responsive teams of people who deliver wonderful results," and whose clients "get the benefit of her reputation as an honest and experienced player when the ACCC see her on the other side."

Linda Evans receives high praise from clients, one of whom rates her as "undoubtedly one of the best competition experts in Australia," citing her "unparalleled ability to distil highly complex issues and deliver commercial, pragmatic and nimble advice and solutions," while another values her as a partner who can "leverage her experience from one deal into another and give me insights I don't get from others." She advises on both transactional and regulatory issues and is particularly familiar with the energy and transportation sectors.

Michael Corrigan operates across the full range of competition and consumer law issues, offering particularly notable experience in the handling of multibillion-dollar, cross-jurisdictional mergers. One interviewee describes him as "one of the best competition lawyers in the space," adding: "I would never hesitate to use him, particularly for large-scale, complex matters." Another notes: "He's seen it all and is able to work out what matters and what doesn't and get a good result for the client."