Christopher specialises in competition and consumer law advice and litigation and advising clients on general contractual and commercial disputes. He has acted both for and against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in matters concerning cartel conduct, misuse of market power and breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.
Christopher’s practice has a strong focus on the franchising industry, where he acts for and provides advice to franchisors on compliance with the Franchising Code of Conduct and disputes with franchisees. Christopher also has significant experience assisting clients in investigations by the Anti-Dumping Commission.
Global Hair and Beauty Franchising Pty Ltd
Defended numerous complex allegations in the Supreme Court of Queensland that a majority shareholder in a merged business was acting oppressively in its role as the majority shareholder and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct prior to the merger. The minority shareholder also sought three separate injunctions in the proceedings and the parties attended 3 days of mediations in two separate attempts to resolve the matter by agreement.
The clients also had claims against the former CEO for breach of the merger agreement and misleading and deceptive conduct. This matter was highly contested and involved serious allegations of misconduct on the part of key directors on both sides. The matter settled in mid-December 2018 immediately following the second attempt at mediation and applications for further and better disclosure brought by both sides.
Major multi-site franchisee
Advised on the investigation by a major Australian multi-site franchise for suspected unfair treatment of workers and fraud, which led to the issue of breach notices and several mediations to resolve the matter on terms requiring repayment of workers and a major restructure of the franchisee’s business.
Lilyvale Hotel Pty Ltd (trading as Shangri La Hotel, Sydney)
Acted for Lilyvale in a dispute with (and subsequent Supreme Court of New South Wales proceedings brought by) Mothership Media Pty Ltd. Mothership promoted a New Year’s Eve event at which Lilyvale provided food and beverage catering services. Mothership alleged that, due to the alleged poor quality of those services, Lilyvale breached the Australian Consumer Law and the parties’ contract. The proceedings were settled on mutually agreeable terms.
Acted for the ACCC in its detailed investigation and had a prominent role in the team that commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against Lifestyle Photographers Pty Ltd alleging unconscionable conduct and misleading or deceptive conduct. The Federal Court subsequently ordered the company to pay a penalty of $1.1million and refund consumers who used its services over a 3 year period.
Acted for the ACCC in its Federal Court proceedings against Invocare Australia Pty Ltd alleging unconscionable conduct and misleading or deceptive conduct. The original investigation also included other allegations, including unfair contract terms. The matter settled with the Court imposing a penalty of over $100,000 and requiring various changes to InvoCare’s selling practices to safeguard consumers from further unlawful conduct
Broken down – ACCC’s ‘future matters’ claims strategy in doubt
The Federal Court has ruled against one of the ACCC’s favoured approaches when litigating manufacturers’ claims