Neil is an experienced Counsel with a practice focussed on delivering considered, frank and commercial advice and representation in commercial and construction disputes, and public law matters.  During a career spanning more than 35 years, Neil has practiced internationally including as Crown Counsel in New Zealand, a solicitor-advocate in the United Kingdom and as both solicitor and counsel at the Victorian Bar in Australia.  This has included numerous appearances as counsel in superior courts in all three jurisdictions, including courts of appeal in New Zealand and Australia, the High Court of Australia and the Privy Council.  Neil has acted and acts for corporations large and small, government and public entities, high net worth individuals, and others in a pro bono capacity.

    Neil holds a Bachelor of Laws from Victoria University of Wellington (1987). He was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor to the High Court of New Zealand in 1988, as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1998, and as a Barrister and Solicitor to the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2001.  He was a member of the Victorian Bar from 2007 – 2018.

    As Crown Counsel or counsel

    • As Crown Counsel in New Zealand:
      • Sole counsel in an action in respect of the Government of New Zealand’s liability under the Government pension scheme, estimated to represent a contingent liability to the Crown of $2 billion.  Neil successfully represented the Crown in the Employment Tribunal, Employment Court, Court of Appeal and Privy Council (see Sears v Attorney-General [1997] 3 NZLR 385).
      • Lead counsel in a class action taken on behalf of several thousand applicants for a benefit representing a contingent liability to the Crown of tens of millions of dollars.
    • Junior counsel in various matters for plaintiffs and defendants in construction and commercial disputes, including allegations of:
      • breach of warranties,
      • breach of an obligation to negotiate in good faith,
      • misleading and deceptive conduct,
      • whether a contract was concluded on a lump sum or schedule of rates basis,
      • an action for an account by a subsequent encumbrancer from a prior encumbrancer, etc.
    • Arbitration and arbitration related matters, including:
      • junior counsel for a defendant in Supreme Court and successful appellant in Court of Appeal in an application to enforce a foreign arbitral award arising from a mining services contract in Mongolia (see IMC Aviation Solutions Pty Ltd v Altain Khuder LLC [2011] VSCA 248), and
      • junior counsel in an arbitration concerning a large supplier-wholesaler gas pricing dispute before a panel including 2 former High Court judges.
    • Junior counsel for government defendants in Rowe v Ausnet Electricity and Ors and Liesfield v SPI Electricity and Ors (Supreme Court of Victoria class actions arising from Black Saturday fires).
    • Junior counsel for successful plaintiffs in the High Court concerning the constitutional validity of laws preventing late enrolment (see Rowe v Electoral Commissioner (2010) 243 CLR 1).

    As solicitor

    • Proceedings in Supreme Court of Victoria concerning liability under contract of sale of land, for cost of removing significant contamination on the old Amcor site, acting for Amcor as defendant – claim dismissed after trial on merits in 2361 page judgment: see Alphington Developments Pty Ltd v Amcor Pty Ltd (No 5) [2023] VSC 637.
    • Proceedings in Supreme Court of Victoria for misleading and deceptive conduct and deceit, arising from finance provided to developer of the old Pentridge Prison site, acting for bank defendant – claim dismissed for want of prosecution: see Pentridge Village Pty Ltd (In Liq) v Capital Finance Australia (No 3) [2023] VSC 605.
    • Proceedings in Federal Court against former director alleging breach of director’s duties, arising from purchase of gold mine and acting for current owners / plaintiffs – claim successfully resolved at mediation after evidence at trial but before submissions.
    • Proceedings in Supreme Court of NSW between multinational JV parties (Czech and Chinese – being the owners of a power station in Queensland), acting for local management companies and their directors, who were in dispute with the Czech party.
    • Construction arbitration before international arbitrators valued at $A1 Billion. The dispute concerned alleged defects to a nickel-cobalt processing facility in Western Australia, comprising 97 separate areas of claim covering almost the entirety of the plant.
    • Representing the successful applicant in a proceeding in the High Court concerning the constitutional validity of the Federal prohibition on prisoner voting (see: Roach v Electoral Commissioner (2007) 233 CLR 162).
    • Multiple pricing disputes regarding the price of gas between producers and wholesalers, and regarding access to the infrastructure of a distribution company.

    Commissions and Inquiries

    • MAS Royal Commission and the Glenbrook Rail Inquiry.
    • MARCHIONESS / BOWBELLE Formal Investigation, London. February 2000 – August 2000.  Counsel to Investigation.
    • Inquiry into the Identification of Victims of Major Transport Accidents, London.  February 2000 – August 2000.  Counsel to Inquiry
    • Thames Safety Inquiry, London. August 1999 – February 2000.  Counsel to Inquiry.
    • BSE Inquiry, London. March – August 1999.  Solicitor to Inquiry.