With the reputation of being one of Australia's leading advisers to government, Ashley advises his clients in the areas of dispute resolution, litigation and administrative law as well as Royal Commissions and Inquiries.

He is also a leading authority on the government’s "model litigant obligations". He was ranked in the 2016 Chambers & Partners Asia-Pacific Guide in the Government Category and was described in a recent APL 500 as "brilliant" in the area of dispute resolution. He is also a finalist in the "Dispute Resolution and Litigation" category of the inaugural Lawyers Weekly Partner of the Year Awards.

Ashley works tirelessly in his clients' interests and provides them with pragmatic and strategic advice. He has acted for a range of government departments and agencies (at Federal and State level), and a range of private sector clients. He has extensive experience in contractual disputes (often complex and sensitive), tort claims, judicial review, merits review, regulatory enforcement, public law, government information law and privacy, tendering issues, and insurance law.

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Expertise

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Government Services

Transport for NSW (TfNSW): Ashley acted for TfNSW in an application to set aside a subpoena that was issued upon TfNSW seeking copies of Metropolitan Bus Contracts that had recently been the subject of a confidential tender process. The contracts contained "commercial in confidence" material. Ashley was pivotal in involving the bus companies whose contracts were caught by the ambit of the subpoena and ensuring that they supported the application which was ultimately upheld by Justice Black in the Supreme Court in December 2013. As a result of the successful application, TfNSW was not required to provide documents in response to the subpoena and was awarded its costs of the proceedings.

ACT Government: Acted for the ACT Government in relation to the litigation arising from the 2003 Canberra bushfires that raised extremely important issues in terms of government liability. This remains the largest ever piece of civil litigation conducted in the ACT, involving around 2,500 plaintiffs represented by different property insurers plus 107 uninsured plaintiffs.

Department of Defence and Defence Materiel Organisation: Acted in relation to a range of contractual disputes - including one which was on the list of "Projects of Concern" and related to a project with a value of in excess of $1bn.

Department of Families and Communities (NSW): Acted for the Department of Families and Communities in relation to a number of physical abuse and sexual abuse cases brought against the State of NSW arising from foster care arrangements and detention centres.

Government Property NSW: Advised Government Property NSW in relation to a range of property disputes.

Comcover: Acted in relation to a range of claims and litigation against various Commonwealth government departments and agencies. Most of these matters were resolved through negotiation or mediation and the two matters which ran to a hearing resulted in a verdict and judgment in the Commonwealth’s favour with costs.

Comcare: Acted in relation to a number of proceedings instituted by plaintiffs in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW arising from exposure to asbestos. These were resolved through ADR processes, generally by informal negotiation and/or mediation. One such matter involved acting for the Commonwealth in relation to a claim brought by the estate of Mr Donald Laurie against it and British American Tobacco in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW following Mr Laurie's death from lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos whilst in the Navy and being a smoker. Ashley resolved the proceedings and thereby avoided a long and protracted hearing which would have involved considerable legal costs for all parties.

NSW Minister for Resources & Energy and Office of Coal Seam Gas: Acted for the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy and the Director of the OCSG in relation to judicial review proceedings commenced by Metgasco Limited following the Minister's decision to suspend its approval to drill the Rosella well at Bentley. The hearing was heard in October 2014 and the judgment was delivered in April 2015. Ashley and his team worked tirelessly on behalf of the Minister and the Director of the OCSG to defend the proceedings in "bet the company" litigation and in circumstances where Metgasco had obtained approval for an expedited hearing.

NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services & the (then) Commonwealth Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (in its capacity as the Commonwealth-New South Wales Offshore Minerals Joint Authority): Acted in judicial review proceedings in the Federal Court challenging the Joint Authority’s refusal of offshore mineral exploration licences for a proposed Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) project in the Sydney Basin offshore area. The proceedings challenged the Joint Authority's refusal of offshore mineral exploration licences for a proposed UCG project in the Sydney Basin offshore area. This was the first ever exploration licence application sought for UCG. Ashley managed to resolved the proceedings prior to the matter being heard in the Federal Court.

Standing Order 52 requests: Ashley acted for a range of NSW government departments and agencies in relation to Standing Order 52 requests from the NSW Legislative Council (also known as a Call for Papers).  These have related to a range of high-profile NSW projects and programs. Each Call for Papers involved the review and production of voluminous documents within a matter of weeks. Ashley devised the document gathering and review methodology, co-ordinated the review and production of documents and was instrumental in ensuring that the NSW Government adopted a "whole of government" approach by co-ordinating the production of documents with other agencies subject to the Call for Papers. On each occasion, despite the tight timeframe and voluminous documents, Ashley was able to ensure the relevant department or agency complied with the relevant Order and produced the required documents without any adverse publicity at the time or in the aftermath of the production. Given the fact that the documents needed to be reviewed within a tight timeframe, including many documents which were highly sensitive and confidential, this was an excellent achievement. As part of this process, Ashley also provided advice in relation to privacy and various privileges such as cabinet in confidence, commercial in confidence, parliamentary privilege, legal professional privilege. One of the Call for Papers resulted in the production of 413 boxes of documents - the largest production in response to a Call for Papers in NSW's history. He has also advised a range of non-government interests in relation to such matters.

GIPA Act: Ashley is a leading adviser on the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) and continues to advise a range of NSW Government departments and agencies on matters arising under this Act.

See Government Services 

Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Transport for NSW (TfNSW): Ashley acted for TfNSW in an application to set aside a subpoena that was issued upon TfNSW seeking copies of Metropolitan Bus Contracts that had recently been the subject of a confidential tender process. The contracts contained "commercial in confidence" material. Ashley was pivotal in involving the bus companies whose contracts were caught by the ambit of the subpoena and ensuring that they supported the application which was ultimately upheld by Justice Black in the Supreme Court in December 2013. As a result of the successful application, TfNSW was not required to provide documents in response to the subpoena and was awarded its costs of the proceedings.

ACT Government: Acted for the ACT Government in relation to the litigation arising from the 2003 Canberra bushfires that raised extremely important issues in terms of government liability. This remains the largest ever piece of civil litigation conducted in the ACT, involving around 2,500 plaintiffs represented by different property insurers plus 107 uninsured plaintiffs.

Department of Defence and Defence Materiel Organisation: Acted in relation to a range of contractual disputes - including one which was on the list of "Projects of Concern" and related to a project with a value of in excess of $1bn.

Department of Families and Communities (NSW): Acted for the Department of Families and Communities in relation to a number of physical abuse and sexual abuse cases brought against the State of NSW arising from foster care arrangements and detention centres.

Government Property NSW: Advised Government Property NSW in relation to a range of property disputes.

Comcover: Acted in relation to a range of claims and litigation against various Commonwealth government departments and agencies. Most of these matters were resolved through negotiation or mediation and the two matters which ran to a hearing resulted in a verdict and judgment in the Commonwealth’s favour with costs.

Comcare: Acted in relation to a number of proceedings instituted by plaintiffs in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW arising from exposure to asbestos. These were resolved through ADR processes, generally by informal negotiation and/or mediation. One such matter involved acting for the Commonwealth in relation to a claim brought by the estate of Mr Donald Laurie against it and British American Tobacco in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW following Mr Laurie's death from lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos whilst in the Navy and being a smoker. Ashley resolved the proceedings and thereby avoided a long and protracted hearing which would have involved considerable legal costs for all parties.

Hills Limited: Acted for Hills Limited and a range of its subsidiaries in relation to a number of commercial disputes and product liability matters.

Private owners: Acting for owners of a large industrial facility in relation to an Appeal following legal proceedings being brought by their tenant, the result of which was that the tenant could remain in the premises due to an estoppel. Ashley has advised the owners in relation to the Appeal as well as a range of other matters arising from the trial judge's orders.

See Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Administrative and Public Law

NSW Minister for Resources & Energy and Office of Coal Seam Gas: Acted for the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy and the Director of the OCSG in relation to judicial review proceedings commenced by Metgasco Limited following the Minister's decision to suspend its approval to drill the Rosella well at Bentley. The hearing was heard in October 2014 and the judgment was delivered in April 2015. Ashley and his team worked tirelessly on behalf of the Minister and the Director of the OCSG to defend the proceedings in "bet the company" litigation and in circumstances where Metgasco had obtained approval for an expedited hearing.

NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services & the (then) Commonwealth Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (in its capacity as the Commonwealth-New South Wales Offshore Minerals Joint Authority): Acted in judicial review proceedings in the Federal Court challenging the Joint Authority’s refusal of offshore mineral exploration licences for a proposed Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) project in the Sydney Basin offshore area. The proceedings challenged the Joint Authority's refusal of offshore mineral exploration licences for a proposed UCG project in the Sydney Basin offshore area. This was the first ever exploration licence application sought for UCG. Ashley managed to resolved the proceedings prior to the matter being heard in the Federal Court.

The George Institute and Monash University: Ashley has acted for a range of medical researchers applying to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal seeking approval under the Guardianship Act 1987 (NSW) as to whether a clinical study is a "clinical trial" under the Act. One such matter is currently on appeal to the Appeal Panel of NCAT.

Standing Order 52 requests: Ashley acted for a range of NSW government departments and agencies in relation to Standing Order 52 requests from the NSW Legislative Council (also known as a Call for Papers).  These have related to a range of high-profile NSW projects and programs. Each Call for Papers involved the review and production of voluminous documents within a matter of weeks. Ashley devised the document gathering and review methodology, co-ordinated the review and production of documents and was instrumental in ensuring that the NSW Government adopted a "whole of government" approach by coordinating the production of documents with other agencies subject to the Call for Papers. On each occasion, despite the tight timeframe and voluminous documents, Ashley was able to ensure the relevant department or agency complied with the relevant Order and produced the required documents without any adverse publicity at the time or in the aftermath of the production. Given the fact that the documents needed to be reviewed within a tight timeframe, including many documents which were highly sensitive and confidential, this was an excellent achievement. As part of this process, Ashley also provided advice in relation to privacy and various privileges such as cabinet in confidence, commercial in confidence, parliamentary privilege, legal professional privilege. One of the Call for Papers resulted in the production of 413 boxes of documents - the largest production in response to a Call for Papers in NSW's history. He has also advised a range of non-government interests in relation to such matters.

GIPA Act: Ashley is a leading adviser on the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) and continues to advise a range of NSW Government departments and agencies on matters arising under this Act.

Royal Commissions and Inquiries

Royal Commission onto Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Acted for the Uniting Church (Synod of NSW and ACT) in relation to the Knox Grammar Case Study before the Royal Commission. Ashley coordinated the Church's response to two Summonses to Produce which involved collecting and reviewing over 1,000,000 documents. Ashley also co-ordinated the preparation of three witness statements and attended to various pre‑hearing tasks such as reviewing the Tender Bundle and other witness statements. Ashley instructed Senior Counsel for the 11 day hearing which was held between February and April 2015.

Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption: Acted for the Civil Contractors Federation in NSW (and advised some of its members) in relation to the Royal Commission. Ashley also acted for three officers of Ashley Services Limited who were required to give evidence in relation to the National Union of Workers segment of the public hearing.

Special Commission of Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in NSW: Acting for the former CEO of Greyhound Racing NSW in relation to the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW before the Hon Michael McHugh AC QC.

Montara Commission of Inquiry: Acted for the Commonwealth Government in relation to the Commission of Inquiry in relation to the worst oil spill in the history of Australia’s offshore petroleum industry and the third largest oil spill in Australia’s history. Ashley advised the Commonwealth in relation to various recommendations following the release of the Report including the prosecution of PTTEP, and conducted a civil penalty review of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 which led to legislative amendment to this Act. 

Other

Government Department: Engaged by the Department to conduct an independent and thorough review of a government project which involved the review of a significant amount of material for the purposes of producing a report for the Department outlining the various issues with the project and making key findings and recommendations. 

See Administrative and Public Law

Privacy

Standing Order 52 requests: Ashley acted for a range of NSW government departments and agencies in relation to Standing Order 52 requests from the NSW Legislative Council (also known as a Call for Papers).  These have related to a range of high-profile NSW projects and programs. Each Call for Papers involved the review and production of voluminous documents within a matter of weeks. Ashley devised the document gathering and review methodology, co-ordinated the review and production of documents and was instrumental in ensuring that the NSW Government adopted a "whole of government" approach by co-ordinating the production of documents with other agencies subject to the Call for Papers. On each occasion, despite the tight timeframe and voluminous documents, Ashley was able to ensure the relevant department or agency complied with the relevant Order and produced the required documents without any adverse publicity at the time or in the aftermath of the production. Given the fact that the documents needed to be reviewed within a tight timeframe, including many documents which were highly sensitive and confidential, this was an excellent achievement. As part of this process, Ashley also provided advice in relation to privacy and various privileges such as cabinet in confidence, commercial in confidence, parliamentary privilege, legal professional privilege. One of the Call for Papers resulted in the production of 413 boxes of documents - the largest production in response to a Call for Papers in NSW's history. He has also advised a range of non-government interests in relation to such matters.

See Privacy

Insurance and Risk

ACT Government: Acted for the ACT Government in relation to the litigation arising from the 2003 Canberra bushfires that raised extremely important issues in terms of government liability. This remains the largest ever piece of civil litigation conducted in the ACT, involving around 2,500 plaintiffs represented by different property insurers plus 107 uninsured plaintiffs.

See Insurance and Risk

Knowledge

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