Australia > Leading tax law firms

Index of tables

  1. Australia – Leading tax law firms
  2. Australia - TDH500
  3. Next generation lawyers
  4. Revenue authority details

Australia - TDH500

  1. 1
    • Michael Clough - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Tony Frost - Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Richard Gelski - Johnson Winter & Slattery
    • Cameron Hanson - Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Mark Leibler - Arnold Bloch Leibler
    • Amrit MacIntyre - Baker McKenzie
    • Carmen McElwain - Minter Ellison
    • Michael Perez - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Andrew Sommer - Clayton Utz
    • Ka Sen Wong - Allen & Overy LLP

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Eddie Ahn - DLA Piper
    • Simone Bridges - Baker McKenzie
    • Shaun Cartoon - Allens
    • Jennee Chan - Allens
    • Claire Horan - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Greg Protektor - King & Wood Mallesons

Allens’ six-partner team headed by Melbourne-based Martin Fry has a particular focus on corporate and international tax in the resources, banking and infrastructure sectors. Adrian Chek is advising a client on the tax issues related to a major transport infrastructure project; he and senior counsel Jennee Chan also assisted Goldman Sachs with its joint venture with Propertylink to acquire a large industrial portfolio. Managing associate Shaun Cartoon is another name to note in Melbourne; he supported Sarah Bernhardt in her advice to the Australian Post Superannuation Scheme on regulatory compliance issues arising from updates to its products. Dispute resolution and litigation specialist Toby Knight is also recommended.

Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills draws praise for its ‘technical depth and knowledge of the tax industry’ and the team was recently bolstered by the return of special counsel Cameron Rider from PwC in Melbourne, and litigation expert Geoff McClellan from a management role within the firm. Jointly headed by Tony Frost and Hugh Paynter in Sydney, the team recently advised National Australia Bank on the sale of 80% of its life insurance business to Nippon Life, and Rio Tinto on the sale of two major Australian mining assets to Yancoal. Recent work highlights also include significant disputes pertaining to cross-border tax and royalty issues and agreement breaches. Richard Hendriks heads the firm’s M&A practice and is a key contact alongside tax investigations and disputes partner Cameron Hanson and Richard Giannone, who heads the national stamp duty outfit.

The ‘top notch’ team at King & Wood Mallesons is ‘best-of-class’ and provides an ‘exceptional service’. It acts for blue-chip clients in the full range of tax mandates with a particular expertise in the private equity space. Melbourne-based stamp duty expert Michael Perez is considered ‘a market leader in tax work’; he acted for Rio Tinto in the sale of its 40% interest in the Bengalla coal joint venture to New Hope Corporation, and the sale of Coal & Allied Industries to Yancoal. In terms of disputes work, the recommended Michael Clough and Jerome Tse represent Chevron in an appeal against a Federal Court decision pertaining to a transfer pricing case initially filed by the Australian Taxation Office. Senior associates Claire Horan and Greg Protektor both play a key supportive role and possess ‘plenty of energy and enthusiasm’.

Arnold Bloch Leibler’s team consists of ‘masters of their craft who consistently deliver tremendous outcomes’. It ‘has a focus on concise, technical and practical advice’, especially with regards to tax controversy and transactional mandates. Mark Leibler and Paul Sokolowski ‘embody the qualities of clearly articulated and responsive advice’ and lead the group from Melbourne, while Clint Harding is in charge of the team’s Sydney arm. On the regulatory side, Joey Borensztajn is advising a client on the management of its obligations under Australia’s foreign investment regime, and contentious work includes assisting an international client with a tax dispute as well as representing a client in an audit pertaining to domestic and cross-border transactions. The ‘technically very sound’ senior associate Kaitlin Lowdon is another name to note.

Clayton Utz’s team is valued for the ‘excellent response times, highly-developed business acumen and industry knowledge’. Noted for handling the full spectrum of tax work, the group is particularly strong in disputes management. Melbourne-based ‘strategic and lateral thinker’ Niv Tadmore receives praise for his ‘honesty and integrity’; his recent caseload includes advising a client on a dispute pertaining to a funding arrangement in the context of a large Australian upstream project and resolving a multi-entity outbound hub dispute filed by the Australian Taxation Office. Sydney-based practice head Andrew Sommer is challenging the Commissioner of Taxation regarding his decision to withhold a refund on behalf of ABC Refinery. Other names to note include Peter Feros who specialises in income tax, and Jonathan Donald who has a strong track record in corporate taxation and issues arising from IPOs and transactions.

Minter Ellison’s team headed by William Thompson in Brisbane delivers an ‘outstanding level of service and quality of work’; it has been strengthened with Anthony Portas’ arrival from the Anglo American mining group where he was Asia Pacific head of tax. The tax controversy team is led by Carmen McElwain who advised the Australian subsidiary of a multinational corporation on the tax implications arising from the closure of a power plant; Nathan Deveson heads the stamp duty and state taxes unit. Chris Kinsella represented the Commission of Taxation in transfer pricing litigation proceedings against Chevron, and national head of indirect tax Rhys Guild and Deveson advised Australian Unity on all tax aspects of the Herston Quarter project in Brisbane. Other work highlights include Millennium Group’s acquisition of Airlite Cleaning, and SABMiller’s merger with Anheuser-Busch InBev.

At Ashurst, ‘the partners are directly approachable and very accessible’. Peter McCullough heads the national tax team, which services a blue-chip client base in international tax mandates, manages litigation and disputes, and is comprised of five partners including the ‘extremely knowledgeable and reliable’ Barbara Phair. In Melbourne, Geoffrey Mann and Ian Kellock advised Alcoa on its global demerger into two independent companies, and Tronox on its acquisition of Cristal’s TiO2 business. The University of Melbourne is a key client who appointed the team to handle all tax issues related to its plan to construct, operate and maintain new student accommodation. Contentious work also features in the group’s recent caseload; Phair and Vivian Chang represented clients in disputes arising from payroll tax and insolvency proceedings.

Baker McKenzie advises clients such as LinkedIn, Origin Energy, RBS and the NSW government on regulatory issues and the tax implications surrounding transactions and provides ‘outstanding direct access to a knowledgeable and technically expert team’. The ‘savvy and astute’ practice head John Walker has developed a strong expertise in the financial services sector, and ‘standout performer’ Amrit Macintyre has experience in the property and energy sectors and is ‘unbelievably accessible, approachable and reliable’. Dixon Hearder advised a major financial services institution on its acquisition of another global institution’s commercial distribution finance and vendor finance platforms as well as a portion of its corporate finance business. Other work highlights include ongoing goods and services and indirect tax advice to a longstanding client and heavyweight name in the retail space, and Hearder’s representation of an online travel company in a multinational anti-avoidance law review by the Australian Tax Office. Senior associate Simone Bridges is another key contact.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s ‘exemplary’ tax group added corporate taxation expert Mark Payne from HWL Ebsworth in Sydney; the ‘extremely professional and personable’ Rhys Jewell remains the name to note in Melbourne. Along with assisting overseas investors such as private equity funds and corporate entities, the team has a particular strength in tax structuring issues arising from real estate investment transactions. A consortium including Macquarie Capital received advice on its acquisition of a 66% stake in GenesisCare, and Jewell represented Investa Office Fund in the sale of its 50% interest in Coles’ Melbourne headquarters. Other notable clients include JD Sports, Poles & Underground and China Resources.

Experienced income tax adviser Jock McCormack heads DLA Piper’s practice, which includes Melbourne-based James Newnham who has a strong track record assisting clients with cross-border expansions. While focused primarily on stamp duty and income tax, senior associate Eddie Ahn also supported McCormack to oversee an asset management firm’s acquisition of real estate in Sydney, and to handle a NSW co-op’s conversion to a publically-traded entity. Other work highlights include transfer pricing for intra-group financing arrangements, regulatory advice, interactions with the Australian Taxation Office, and risk assessments. Consultant Matthew Cridland left to join K&L Gates.

Johnson Winter & Slattery’s team headed by Reynah Tang is valued for its ‘high level of expertise’ and its ‘capabilities in complex high-value projects’. Recent mandates include both contentious and non-contentious highlights; ‘standout performer’ Prashanth Kainthaje advised a leading transnational consumer goods company on the restructuring of its Australian operations following a change in UK tax law, and Stewart Grieve represented the Australian subsidiary of a foreign multinational entity in a longstanding tax office audit. On the regulatory side, the recommended Richard Gelski advised a major multinational corporation on the potential application of incoming legislative changes. Special counsel Andy Milidoni has a particular strength in income tax, trust and superannuation law.

Allen & Overy LLPprovides a responsive and well-considered service with minimal execution and implementation risk’ under the leadership of the newly promoted Ka Sen Wong whose ‘ability to think laterally’ and ‘willingness to delve into numbers and details when required’ draws much praise. In recent highlights, the team acted for a wireless infrastructure provider as well as an investment firm in the disposal of each of the clients’ Australian branches and the subsequent tax investigation by the Australian Tax Office, and assisted Macquarie Leasing with its SMART ABS trust transaction, which consisted of a $500,000 issuance of fixed-rate notes backed by a pool of auto receivables. The group also handled tax issues arising from privatisation, public and private M&A, and funds mandates. Wong is supported by counsel Angela Melick and associate Alice Morstyn.

Gilbert + Tobin’s practice focuses on income and capital gains tax, corporate tax consulting, stamp duty and contentious mandates. The team has seen some departures; Peter Feros left to join Clayton Utz and Andrew Sharp joined EY Law. Practice head Muhunthan Kanagaratnam has a particular strength in financial services, manufacturing and the transport and logistics industries. He and Hanh Chau advised two investment firms on the acquisition of a pharmaceuticals business, and an Australian conglomerate on the establishment of employee share schemes and the stamp duty implications of a potential IPO. Other key names include special counsel and indirect tax law expert Adam Musgrave who advised Arrium on the disposal of its Moly-Cop business through a dual track trade sale and IPO.

Hall & Wilcox’s ‘strong team has depth and good knowledge of taxation law’ and Andrew O’Bryan and Michael Parker ‘are very strong in the principles and practices of tax and wider commercial dynamics’. Also recommended is the ‘excellent client relationship manager’ and practice head Peter Murray; he advised Eternal Best Industrial on tax due diligence in the context of the cross-border acquisition of a shoe manufacturer. Marina Raulings and O’Bryan rendered tax consolidation advice to a leading telecoms company regarding its merger with another large telecoms player. On the contentious front, special counsel Frank Hinoporos was part of the team acting for a hardware distributor in an objection to an Australian Taxation Office assessment.

Henry Davis Yorkprovides advice in a concise and readily accessible manner’. Practice head Greg Reinhardt is singled out for his ‘professional approach and the ability to articulate complex legal matters in plain English’; he advised BT Financial Group on the implementation of the investment trust regime. Reinhardt and senior associate and ‘committed professional’ Jim Koutsokostas, who ‘exudes dedication and attention to detail’, advised a consortium of investors on a balance sheet restructure. Special counsel Seema Mishra is also a key contact with experience in acting for clients in the public, financial services and fund management sectors. Henry Davis York and Norton Rose Fulbright have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

Jackson McDonald’s team ‘provides a highly professional service’; it consists of Jemal Zagami and Adam Levin, who impresses with his ‘sound commercial judgement’. He advised a foreign corporate entity on the tax implications surrounding a substantial payment to trust in connection with environmental protection projects. In other highlights, the firm oversaw the preparation, lodging and obtaining of private binding rule applications for several clients in the context of property and share asset sales. Special counsel David Murphy also attracts praise; he supported Zagami in a land tax dispute and a high-net wealth audit by the Australian Taxation Office.

Betsy-Ann Howe leads K&L Gates’ team, which has been bolstered with Matthew Cridland from DLA Piper. It advised Calpers on its application to the Australian Taxation Office for sovereign office and other tax issues relating to its acquisition of a fifty-year lease for the Port of Melbourne, along with consortium partners. Hunter Hall received advice on its merger with fund management firm Pengana Holdings, and a UK-based asset manager on the tax implications of entering into a litigation funding arrangement with two Australian providers. On the contentious side, the team represented several clients in relation to goods and services tax issues arising from a housing development in Canberra and the management of multiple funds by a leading international company.

McCullough Robertson assisted longstanding client Nutrano Produce with its acquisition of Seven Fields and jointly with the corporate practice advised MSL Solutions on the restructuring of incentive arrangements for key executives. A large accounting firm instructed the team to handle a potential dispute with the Australian Taxation Office with regards to one of its clients, and a global manufacturer received representation in two judicial reviews pertaining to a public authority’s reassessment of the client and its allies’ royalty liabilities. Brisbane-based team head Damien Clarke has substantial expertise in regulatory matters, especially in the context of stamp duty. Other key names include Mark West, Duncan Bedford and Hayden Bentley, who acted for Velocity Property Group in implementing its restructuring.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s practice includes stamp duty specialist Andrew Spalding and corporate taxation expert Ellen Thomas who jointly lead the group from Melbourne and Sydney, respectively. Spalding and senior associate Adam Smith represented Danvest and Bullhusq in a stamp duty dispute arising from the acquisition of an interest in the Faircourse Unit Partnership; the team is also acting for a major global insurer in relation to warranty and indemnity insurance policies on M&A transactions. In other highlights, a cross-office team advised data centre developer AirTrunk on a capital raising initiative comprising mezzanine financing and equity investment, and senior associate Antony Faisandier advised HSW Nominees on a riverside precinct project in Brisbane. Restructuring and tax planning specialist and special counsel Stephanie Barnes is also a key contact in Sydney. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

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