International Trade

Globalisation might be bringing the world closer together, but our legal systems can still keep us apart. That's why we bring together experts in trade law from across the firm ‒ so you can concentrate on getting closer to your customers and suppliers across international borders. 

Our International Trade group makes us the go-to firm for tough transactions of global significance. We'll be there at every stage of your business cycle to help you navigate the trade laws and regulations across the world, while making sure your risks are managed ‒ and opportunities maximised ‒ each step of the way.

We'll help you understand and protect your rights under Australia's bilateral and multilateral treaties and Free Trade Agreements, through to the laws that affect domestic and foreign manufacturers, importers and exporters, as well as anti-dumping and customs law, international arbitration and trade protection law.   

And if you're looking to expand your horizons, our independence allows us to pursue whole-business relationships with leading foreign law firms with deep expertise in different cultural and business structures, so our clients know they will be getting the best advice, wherever they are.

See International Services

International trade agreements and customs law

With expert lawyers ‒ including a former Commonwealth Government office-holder ‒ in the anti-dumping area, our customs team brings comprehensive knowledge and experience of import-export issues, as well as the impact of regulations mandated by international agreements entered into by Australia.  

Our lawyers advise Australian and international clients on trade agreement regulations, including:

  • International trade agreements ‒ whether multilateral (under the umbrella of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)), regional (such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)) or bilateral agreements between countries
  • International regional trade agreements such as the Internal Market of the European Union, North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), ASEAN, APEC, Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) and FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas)
  • the consistency of Australian laws and regulations with WTO and other international trade rules
  • WTO and its specialised agreements, including under GATT and the prosecution and defence of cases under the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding.

Complementing this is our advice on all aspects of the import and export of goods and customs, including:

  • export controls
  • labelling, licensing and quarantine requirements
  • import, biosecurity, quarantine and biodiversity requirements
  • Kyoto Protocol implementation
  • trade remedies (anti-dumping, safeguards and countervailing measures)
  • trade barriers and participation in dispute settlement proceedings concerning sanitary and phytosanitary rules and safeguards
  • customs issues, including tariff classification of goods; customs valuation; tariff concession orders (TCOs); rules of origin; excise and customs duty, transfer pricing and customs investigations and prosecutions.

See Anti Dumping and Importation

International Arbitration

As one of the leading international arbitration practices in the Asia-Pacific region, our arbitration specialists are well known throughout the international arbitration community and have represented clients in major international transactions, projects and disputes globally under all of the major arbitration rules and regimes.

Experience

McConnell Dowell ‒ Singapore Main Trunk Gas Pipeline: we acted in an arbitration pursuant to Singapore International Arbitration Centre rules, with the procedural and substantive law being that of Singapore.

Toyo Engineering Case: we acted for John Holland against Toyo in an arbitration before international panel arbitrators concerning the construction of the Mobil Altona refinery. With a $250 million project value, the amount in dispute was $100 million. Conducted in Vancouver, London and Singapore under ICC rules (with substantive and procedural law being that of Singapore), the arbitration led to amendments to the Singapore legislation concerning challenge rights of parties who opt out of the Model Law in Singapore.

Bains Harding ‒ MLNG Dua Liquidated Natural Gas Plant, Bintulu LNG field, Sarawak, Malaysia: we acted for a sub-contractor in a dispute with Kellogg (main contractor) over termination of its contract for installation work on the Bintulu LNG field in a major international arbitration conducted under UNCITRAL Rules before a panel of three international arbitrators (Seat in Kuala Lumpur, with procedure hearings in London).  The amount in dispute was in excess of MR$70 million. Award made in our client's favour plus 100% recovery of costs. Involved working with Malaysian lawyers in proceedings in the High Court of Malaysia and in the prosecution of an international arbitration arising out of the project work. 

See International Arbitration

International litigation

Our litigators don't just form Australia's largest dispute resolution team ‒ they're renowned for their skills at complex transnational (and multinational) litigation, and the many legal, commercial and strategic issues that arise, including conflicts of laws, jurisdiction, choice of law, service, obtaining evidence from abroad, and enforcement of judgments.

Experience

  • Acting as part of an international legal team on a worldwide pharmaceutical class action.
  • Defending applications for anti-suit injunctions in the context of an insurance dispute.
  • Making a successful application for a stay based on the principle of forum non conveniens in an international construction dispute.
  • Advising on Mareva injunctions to prevent dissipation of assets overseas and outside the jurisdiction of Australian courts.
  • Enforcing Australian judgments in various overseas jurisdictions, including US, Germany, the Asia-Pacific and India.  

See Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Cross-border cartels and competition

Our national competition and cartel lawyers  have won a reputation as the market leaders in managing high-profile international and Australian cartel investigations, associated litigation (including the Australian aspects of international cartels), and prosecutions instigated by regulators, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, US Department of Justice and the European Commission.

The team's experience in advising international and Australian businesses and executives on cartel investigations spans a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals and healthcare, manufacturing, shipping and airfreight. We are also at the forefront of developments in cartel-related legislation, and are active members of Australian and international bodies such as the International Cartel Task Force Committee.

Experience

  • Representing an international client in a landmark case brought by the ACCC where our client and its competitors were alleged to be part of an international cartel in Asia and Europe which acted to fix minimum prices for the provision of electric cables. This is one of the longest-running cases concerning alleged price-fixing and cartel conduct in an Australian court.
  • Representing a major international airline on allegations that the airlines engaged in cartel conduct by agreeing surcharges on freight carried by the airlines between Australia and other jurisdictions.
  • Representing a European shipping line on the ACCC's first criminal prosecution for cartel conduct.  

See Enforcement and Cartels

International corporate conduct

Our team of experienced litigators are trusted advisers to multinational and Australian companies who need to protect themselves from corporate fraud, bribery, corruption, facilitation payments, public and private corruption, antitrust, money laundering, and privileges and immunities, with a particular focus on assessing risk and exposure under both domestic and international anti-corruption laws, including Australia's Criminal Code, the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the UK Bribery Act 2010.

Experience

  • Retained by US corporations in relation to US Department of Justice investigations into alleged breaches of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act within Australia, by subsidiaries of those US corporations.
  • Leading the Australian component of an investigation of a British multinational whose employees were allegedly involved in a worldwide conspiracy to defraud the taxation authorities. We subsequently successfully led the Australian defence of proceedings brought against the Australian subsidiary by the Federal Government.
  • Advised an Australian resource company in connection with an Australian Federal Police investigation into alleged bribery of foreign public officials. 

See White Collar Crime and Investigations

International taxation

Our taxation lawyers are well regarded for advising on international taxation and the tax aspects of cross-border investments and transactions. We advise Australian companies on outbound investment and transactions in the USA, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. 

Our work has involved advice on overseas structure, treaty benefits, attribution of income, gain realisation strategies, debt-raising, transfer pricing, royalties and repatriation of income.

Experience

  • Advised an Australian motoring club and mutual organisation on the structure and ongoing operation of a US intellectual property joint venture.  This involved implications under the Australia / US double tax agreement.
  • Lead tax adviser in the structuring and establishment of an international private equity resources fund. The fund included both Australian and offshore fund entities and the structuring work involved multi-jurisdictional taxation issues.

See Taxation

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