Resolved class actions


Actions

Shareholder & Investor

AMP Limited, ongoing

Phi Finney McDonald acted for one of the representative applicants in the carriage dispute in this shareholder class action. Phi Finney McDonald’s claim was funded by IMF Bentham Ltd, and it has now been stayed by the Court. If you entered into a funding agreement with IMF Bentham, or if you have an enquiry about this class action, you are welcome to contact us at classactions@phifinneymcdonald.com

Jubilee Mines, 2006

Individual proceeding: Represented the plaintiff in successful first instance proceedings against Jubilee Mines NL (Kim Riley in his capacity as trustee of the KER Trust v Jubiless Mines [2006] WASC 199), for breach of its continuous disclosure obligations which existed at the time under the Corporations Law (now the Corporations Act 2001). The plaintiff successfully established that Jubilee Mines had failed to disclose material information to the market, which in turn had caused it to sell shares at undervalue and suffer a loss. The plaintiff was awarded $1.86 million. Although the decision was overturned on appeal, it remains significant as the first Australian case in which a Court awarded a shareholder damages for breach by a company of its continuous disclosure requirements. Click here for the judgment.

Downer EDI Limited (No. 1), 2008

$20 million settlement: Acted for investors in a shareholder class action claim against Downer EDI Limited, which settled prior to the commencement of proceedings in 2008 for $20m. Although the settlement was confidential, the size of the settlement later became public. The proposed class action was funded by IMF Bentham Limited.

Centro Properties Group and Centro Retail Trust, 2012

$50 million settlement: Acted for investors in a shareholder class action against Centro Properties Limited, Centro Retail Limited and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The class action was funded by Comprehensive Legal Funding LLC. In 2008, the legal team successfully resisted a stay application brought by the Centro entities and supported by Maurice Blackburn, which had launched a competing class action. The judgment of Justice Finkelstein dismissing the Centro entities’ stay application remains a key authority on the issue of multiplicity of class action proceedings in respect of the same subject matter. The proceeding settled for $50m in 2012, in the middle of the trial before Justice Middleton. Click here for the article from News.com.au and here for the judgment.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals, 2012

$57.5 million settlement: Acted for investors in a shareholder class action against Sigma Pharmaceuticals Limited. The class action was funded by Comprehensive Legal Funding LLC. In 2012 the proceeding settled for $57.5m. Click here for the two articles from the Sydney Morning Herald on 01/04/2010 and 02/07/2015 and here for The Australian Business Review.

Nufarm Limited, 2012

$46.6 million settlement: Acted for investors in a shareholder class action against Nufarm Limited. In 2011, the class action was consolidated with a similar proceeding conducted by Maurice Blackburn, with both Slater and Gordon and Maurice Blackburn on record as lawyers for the applicants in the consolidated proceeding. Slater and Gordon’s proceeding was funded by Comprehensive Legal Funding LLC. In 2012 the consolidated proceeding settled for $46.6m. Click here for the article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

GPT Group, 2013

$75 million settlement: Acted for investors in a shareholder class action against GPT Group, which settled in 2013 for $75m. The class action was funded by Comprehensive Legal Funding LLC. The proceeding ran all the way to trial before Justice Gordon (then on the Federal Court), and settled shortly prior to judgment being handed down. Click here for the two articles from the Sydney Morning Herald on 24/10/2008 and 08/05/2013

Downer EDI Limited (No. 2), 2014

$29.75 million settlement: Acted for investors in a (second) shareholder class action claim against Downer EDI Limited, which settled prior to the commencement of proceedings in early 2014 for $29.75m. Although the settlement was confidential, the size of the settlement later became public. The proposed class action was funded by IMF Bentham Limited. Click here for the article on News.com.au.

Newcrest Mining, 2016

$36 million settlement: Acted for investors in a shareholder class action against Newcrest Mining Limited, which settled in 2016 for $36m. The class action was funded by Comprehensive Legal Funding LLC. In the course of the class action, Newcrest sought an order that the claims of two institutional investor group members be dealt with at the initial trial of common issues, arguing that institutional investors have different reasons for investing in listed companies than do retail investors and hence their claims need to be considered separately. Ordinarily, only the claim of the representative applicant (typically a retail investor, as in this case) would be determined at the initial trial. In successfully opposing the application, Ben gave affidavit evidence on which he was cross-examined in Court. The resulting judgment remains the leading authority on the subject of defendant applications for sample group member evidence, making it difficult for future defendants to attempt to force institutional investors to take in an active role in Australian shareholder class actions. Click here for the judgment.

Billabong International Limited, 2016

$45 million settlement: Acted for investors in a shareholder class action against Billabong International Limited, which settled in 2015 for $45m. The class action was funded by Comprehensive Legal Funding LLC. Click here for the article on News.com.au.

UGL Class Action, 2019

$18 million settlement: Phi Finney McDonald acted for investors in a shareholder class action against engineering company UGL Pty Limited. The proceeding was filed in December 2017. The class action alleged UGL engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and failed to comply with its continuous disclosure obligations in relation the poor performance of a joint venture arrangement between UGL and CH2M Hill. The class action was funded by Omni Bridgeway (previously known as IMF Bentham Ltd). In December 2019, the Federal Court of Australia approved the settlement of the class action for $18 million.

Forge Group Limited, 2019

$16.5 million settlement: Phi Finney McDonald acted for investors in a shareholder class action arising from the collapse of Forge Group Limited. The proceeding was filed in December 2014. A settlement of the class action was approved by the Federal Court in December 2019, for $16.5m. The class action was funded by IMF Bentham Ltd. The class action featured a contested application for leave to proceed against Forge’s D&O insurer under the Civil Liability (Third Party Claims Against Insurers) Act 2017 (NSW), which was successful. The settlement sum will be distributed to group members in early 2020.

Vocation Limited, ongoing

Acted for investors in a claim against Vocation Limited from its commencement in 2014 until leaving Slater and Gordon in April 2017. Following Vocation’s collapse in 2015, in 2016 the proceeding was consolidated with a competing class action brought by Maurice Blackburn, and in 2017 auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was joined as a co-defendant in the class action. Slater and Gordon’s class action is ongoing and is funded by IMF Bentham Limited. Click here for the two articles from AFRAFR.

Financial Products & Services

Bell Potter Securities Limited, 2014

Confidential group settlement: Acted for a group of invested who were advised by Bell Potter to buy shares in biotech company Progen Pharmaceuticals and suffered loss. The proceeding was initially issued as a class action, was declassed in 2012, and an application to reconstitute the claim as a class action was rejected by the Court in 2013. Our team subsequently took over the case and achieved a confidential settlement of the highly complex case.

Storm Financial Resolution Scheme, 2010

Multiple individual settlements: Acted for bank customers and investors in respect of an alternate dispute resolution scheme with the Commonwealth Bank, relating to the loss of funds lent in connection with collapsed financial advice and investments management company Storm Financial, and associated claims against the banks for improper lending practices. Click here for the article from ABC.

Westpoint Group, 2008

Confidential individual settlements: Represented over a thousand retail investors (mainly retirees) who had lost their life savings following the collapse of the Westpoint Group. Westpoint had raised mezzanine finance for property developments by issuing unregulated promissory notes to retail investors through financial planning firms (often paying commissions of 10% or more). Ben developed the systems and processes through which instructions were taken, cases were assessed and triaged, and common issues were identified among individual financial mis-selling claims. The result was a multitude of individual claims, group litigation via test cases and under case management orders, as well as a number of representative proceedings. One individual proceeding, Dartberg v Wealthcare Financial Planning, generated what remains a founding judgment in the development of the law on the application of proportionate liability regimes in Australia. Click here for the article from InvestorDaily and click here for the judgment.

Australian Executor Trustees / Provident Capital Collapse, ongoing

Acted for thousands of investors (including many retirees) in the collapsed unlisted mortgage fund Provident Capital, in a class action claim against trustee company Australian Executor Trustees, from its commencement in 2014 until their departure from Slater and Gordon April 2017. The class action is ongoing and is conducted on a No Win No Fee basis. Click here for the article from Money Management and The Australian.

Trust Company / Australian Capital Reserve Collapse, 2015

$25 million settlement: Acted for investors (mainly retiree investors) in the collapsed unlisted mortgage fund Australian Capital Reserve, in a class action claim against trustee company Trust Company Nominees. In 2015 the proceeding settled for $25m. The class action was conducted on a No Win No Fee basis. Click here for the article on the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sandhurst Trustees / Fincorp Collapse, 2010

$29 million settlement: Acted for investors (mainly retiree investors) in the collapsed unlisted mortgage fund Fincorp, in a class action claim against trustee company Sandhurst Trustees. In 2010 the proceeding settled for $29m. The class action was conducted on a No Win No Fee basis. Click here for the two articles from the Sydney Morning Herald on 05/12/2008 and 11/05/2011.

Climate & Contamination

Premier v Spotless Group Limited & Ors, 2007

Successful defendant: Acted for the seventh named defendant, a firm of environmental consultants, in a complex multi-party proceeding seeking damages for loss connected with land contaminated by dry-cleaning chemicals. While the first-named defendant (for whom we did not act) was, in part, unsuccessful, our client successfully defended all claims made against it in the proceeding. Click here for the judgment.

Parkerville Bushfire Group Action, ongoing

Acted for the Herridge Plaintiffs, until leaving Slater and Gordon in July 2017, in the multi-plaintiff action in the Supreme Court of Western Australia against Western Power, its contractor Thiess, and a private landowner on behalf of residents, business and property owners affected by the January 2014 bushfire in the Perth hills. The case is ongoing and is set down for trial in the first quarter of 2018.

Human Rights & Asylum Seeker

Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre, 2017

Involved in the inception and investigation of the class action for asylum seekers detained at the Manus Island detention centre, which was commenced in 2014. Click here for the article from The Guardian and two from the Sydney Morning Herald on 17/08/2016 and 14/06/2017.

Fairbridge Farm, 2015

$25 million settlement: Acted for persons who had been victims of physical and sexual abuse as children at Fairbridge Farm, a home established for UK child migrants. In 2015 the case settled for $24m (together with a formal apology), in the largest compensation payment for survivors of institutional child abuse in Australian legal history. The class action was conducted on a No Win No Fee basis. Click here for the two articles from the Sydney Morning Herald on 29/06/2015 and 29/06/2015 and the article from ABC.

Product Liability & Medical Devices

Special Commission of Inquiry into Medical Research and Compensation Foundation (James Hardie Inquiry), 2005

Represented the ACTU and asbestos victim support groups in the New South Wales Government’s inquiry into James Hardie. The company, a former asbestos manufacturer, had undertaken a substantial corporate restructure under which its assets were transferred to the Netherlands, while its asbestos liabilities (and AU$293m) remained in an Australian based research and compensation trust. The inquiry established that the trust was grossly-underfunded and resulted in James Hardie agreeing to make additional and on-going payments into the trust in respect of its future asbestos liabilities.

UK Thalidomide Claims, 2017

Represented United Kingdom thalidomide survivors who had never been compensated after suffering life-changing and severe physical abnormalities. Thalidomide damaged unborn children when taken in early pregnancy. Legal proceedings were issued against Grünenthal, the German inventor and manufacturer of thalidomide, and the UK Distillers companies which distributed the drug in the United Kingdom.

Government

Nauru Class Action, 2020

Acted for asylum seekers taken from Australia to the Republic of Nauru after 3 August 2013 in a class action against the Commonwealth of Australia and current and former Ministers and Secretaries of the immigration department.

The class action alleged the respondents acted with reckless indifference as to whether their actions were unlawful when making Nauruan visa applications, and requesting extensions, without asylum seekers’ knowledge or consent. The class action was dismissed on the grounds that the applicants did not have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the respondents acted with reckless indifference.

Insolvency Claims & Proofs of Debt

Administration of ION Limited, 2014

$9.4 million settlement: Acted for shareholder-creditors in lodging proof of debt claims in the administration of ION Limited. The $9.4m settlement figure represents the aggregate amount of administration distributions paid to Slater and Gordon clients in respect of their claims, each of which was determined individually. The proof of debt process was funded by IMF Bentham Limited. As part of this process, we obtained and lodged individual reliance evidence from claimants including institutional investors.