find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Fox hounded by record case

Fox hounded by record case

The year 1991 might be remembered by most for the passing of Queen front man Freddy Mercury or the second coming of The Terminator.For those at Phillips Fox, on the other hand, nostalgia…

The year 1991 might be remembered by most for the passing of Queen front man Freddy Mercury or the second coming of The Terminator.

For those at Phillips Fox, on the other hand, nostalgia generated from those heady days of Happy Pants and Hypercolour T-Shirts isn’t so romantic.

Back then the decision to defend Perth accountants Nelson Wheeler against damages claims launched by the liquidators for fallen Duke Group Limited appeared innocuous enough.

Twelve years ago, no-one at the firm would have predicted the proceedings would turn out to be the longest running trial in Australian judicial history.

Last week, Phillips Fox’s Adelaide partners were taken on a trip down memory lane, when the case was revived in the South Australian Supreme Court at the behest of liquidators and former Duke directors, dissatisfied with the High Court’s $32 million damages split between the parties.

Phillips Fox Adelaide head Joe De Ruvo, who was with the firm when the case commenced and admits to being continually surprised by its longevity, said proceedings had been re-opened on the basis of “an error of natural justice”.

“We were actually happy with the result [Nelson 50 percent/Directors 50 per cent],” he said.

Spanning 470 hearing days, De Ruvo said the case was “head and shoulders above” any other he had worked upon in terms of length, detail and logistics.

“To give you a better idea of the size of it, we have 2,700 archive boxes full of discoveries,” De Ruvo said.

Nelson’s defence has primarily been run from the firm’s Adelaide and Perth offices, with a cumulative total of around seven staff — clerks, solicitors, and partners included — working on it at any one time over the past decade.

Along with De Ruvo, Perth partner Ian Freeman and Adelaide senior associate Sophie Traiforos — a humble clerk when the marathon proceedings commenced — survived.

Acting for other parties involved, rival Adelaide firms Fisher Jeffries and Thomson Playford have also been in the mix the entire way, De Ruvo said.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Fox hounded by record case
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...