image of Chris DavisChris Davis

Clayton Utz Partner , Canberra T +61 2 6279 4032

Chris Davis has significant experience on large and complex procurement projects for the Commonwealth Government. 

He has advised on some of Australia's largest and most complex projects and procurements, and is an expert at identifying all contracting and management issues during drafting, acquisition and support.

Chris also has extensive litigation, contract dispute and insurance experience from acting for government, major companies and insurers. His broad litigation expertise is particularly useful during contractual disputes, and provides a deep and practical understanding of key commercial issues such as risk, risk mitigation, liability and insurance.

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Intellectual Property

  • Defence Science and Technology Organisation: Chris advised on IP and contract transition management issues arising from the selection of a new contractor for the Design Experimentation Airborne Platform Modification, Operation and Support Contract (DEAP MOS), including negotiations with the previous contractor to remedy contract defects, particularly in the provision of Technical Data.

See Intellectual Property

Litigation and Dispute Resolution

  • Commonwealth Department: Chris helped establish a claims handling mechanism to receive, evaluate and settle over 1000 claims arising out of losses associated with the implementation of a flawed IT processing system. As a result of this ADR process, no claims were formally litigated and the vast majority of claims were resolved within 30 days of notification.
  • Department of Defence: A Comcare prosecution was launched, in response to the death of a soldier during live fire training at Cultana, SA. Chris assisted Defence in the investigation and subsequent prosecution by Comcare.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation: A dispute was raised involving the sustainment of Defence's guided missile frigates. Chris advised on the dispute, including contract interpretation and determining strategy. As a result the contractor agreed to provide substantial "work in kind" compensation.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation: Chris is advising DMO on a dispute in respect of liquidated damages, arising from a contract for the provision of a full-flight and mission simulator.
  • MRH Sustainment Contract and ARH Sustainment: Chris has advised DMO on performance issues under MRH Sustainment contract and ARH Sustainment. He advised on various issues, such as contractor underperformance, contractual remedies and interpretation of contract clauses.

See Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Government Services

Major projects and procurement

Chris has advised on some of the largest projects and procurements for government, including:

  • Department of Defence – Future Submarines: Chris is part of the team advising Australia's largest Defence acquisition, the future submarines project.
  • Department of Defence – Domestic Munitions Manufacturing Agreements: Chris is advising on the acquisition of munitions by the ADF and on the long-term lease and operations of a munitions manufacturing facility and propellant manufacturing facility.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation – JP2008 Phase 5B: Chris is advising on the contract to design, construct and operate satellite ground stations.
  • Department of Defence – TFSPO: Chris is currently advising TFSPO (based at Williamstown, Newcastle) on multiple contracts of new capital equipment from acquisition through to disposal and replacement. He advises on commercial law issues relevant to the ongoing management of the contracts, new procurements, evaluation issues and contract transition.
  • Department of Communications (formerly DBCDE): Chris advises the Department on the initial roll-out of the NBN (the Regional Backbone Blackspots Program), including contract management advice and interpretation issues.
  • Defence Disposals Agency: Chris advised DDA on a unique profit sharing contract between Defence and the Private sector for the disposal of 10,000+ excess and superseded Defence vehicles over the next 5-8 years, requiring the drafting of a bespoke contract. He has also advised DDA on the disposal, through recycling, of ex-HMAS Kanimbla and Manoora. As the Commonwealth desired to retain a degree of post-sale control over the vessels to ensure recycling in accordance with strict environmental control and international conventions (Basel and MARPOL), Chris advised on application of relevant legislative and policy requirements.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation – Naval Helicopters & Weapons Systems: Chris was part of the team advising on the purchase of its new naval helicopters (value over $3Bn) and weapons systems ($450M+). This included drafting and advising on five different RFT packages, all using different contractual mechanisms, for both acquisition and sustainment of the helicopter platforms. He also participated in the commercial evaluation team.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation – AIR9000-Phase 8: Chris advised on the Future Naval Aviation Combat Project, providing a replacement for the Seahawk helicopter. He acted on the acquisition of new naval combat helicopters, flight and maintenance simulars logistics support, training and spares. and also participated in the Commercial evaluation team.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation – AIR9000 Australian Industry Program advice: An MRH Helicopter Acquisition program over $600M in value, Chris acted for DMO on interpretation of contractual obligations, KPI measurements, and advice to the project on rights (eg. liquidated damages) and available solutions.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation – AIR9000 Phase 3 (SCAP 1): This was a major ($140M+) upgrade to Sea Hawk helicopters. Chris was required to perform a detailed analysis of extant standing offers to identify existing risks, drafting and negotiation of extensive special conditions and associated documentation with major sub-contractors (in particular IP deeds).
  • Department of Immigration and Border Protection (formerly DIAC) – Streamlined Visa Processing: Chris advised on the implementation of the program for education providers.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation – The Defence Air Traffic Management and Control System Project: This is a $1Bn+ joint Defence/Air Services procurement. Chris advised on the acquisition and support, including the removal and disposal of existing systems, provision of new ATM systems and integrating the new system with extant ATM systems. He also advised on development of the training systems and maintenance staff.
  • NSW Rural Fire Service: Chris advised on the acquisition of a helicopter, for use in firefighting activities.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation – JP 2008 Phase 3H (Wideband Terrestrial Terminals): Chris was the principal adviser to this project, to purchase and support the use of the Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) system by rapidly replacing select commercial wideband satellite communications (SATCOM) terminals with WGS certified terminals. He worked closely with the project team to draft RFT documents and, in particular, develop an appropriate performance-based contract.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation – Minehunter Class ISS Contract re-negotiation: Chris worked with the project to develop an updated service support contract to implement a modern PBC framework. This delivered greater capabilities to the Commonwealth, but allowed for a reduction in fleet capacity and reduced cost. This included the complex task of amalgamating the extant (and ongoing) contract with the new contract.
  • Department of Finance – Whole of Government Travel Arrangements: Chris was part of the Clayton Utz team advising on this large national project RFT, including strategic and legal issues from the Scoping Study and the procurement of credit card, car hire and hotel accommodation services.
  • Defence Science and Technology Organisation: Chris advised on IP and contract transition management issues arising from the selection of a new contractor for the Design Experimentation Airborne Platform Modification, Operation and Support Contract (DEAP MOS), including negotiations with the previous contractor to remedy contract defects, particularly in the provision of Technical Data.
  • Department of Immigration and Border Protection (formerly DIAC): Chris has advised on all aspects of its Systems for People IT contract, including contract renegotiation and contractor performance issues.
  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Chris advised the KSA embassy on the procurement of health insurance services for KSA citizens studying in Australia, including drafting the full RFT package.


  • Defence Materiel Organisation: In 2008/9 Chris was seconded for 12 months to DMO Legal working as (the equivalent to) Deputy Counsel. He provided ad-hoc legal support to Aerospace and Helicopter Division project offices around Australia, covering matters such as liquidated damages claims, C-130J propeller and engine contracts, MRH (helicopter) sustainment, B-300 aircraft procurements, leasing of UAVs, aircraft engine cracking warranty claim and probity advice on the cancellation of major tender process.
  • Defence Materiel Organisation: Chris was seconded in 2005/6 for 12 months with the Contracting Operations section (Electronic Weapons System). His primary role was working with Radio Frequency Special Projects Office on project management and tender evaluation.
  • Customs: In 2011 Chris was seconded to work as a senior lawyer in Customs' commercial team of the Legal Services branch, advising on procurement and legislative matters.
  • ACCC: Chris was seconded for four months to assist in running a major misuse of market power case, Baxter Healthcare v ACCC.

See Government Services


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