Matt Kelleher

Clayton Utz
Partner Melbourne

Matt has a unique breadth of experience having worked across the private and public sectors during his career on significant and complex industrial relations matters. He advises employers around Australia on all aspects of workplace relations law, industrial relations, employment, diversity and discrimination and occupational health and safety.

For over a decade, Matt has also had a specialised focus of acting for Government regulatory clients, having acted or overseen the legal strategy in over 100 proceedings across all states and territories, both at trial and appellate level.

Matt has extensive experience in preparing and implementing industrial relations strategies, advising clients in negotiating industrial instruments, resolving industrial disputes and advising on proceedings before the High Court, Federal Court and Fair Work Commission.

In 2019, Matt was appointed as the Deputy Commissioner (Legal) of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. During his four years in that senior executive position, Matt was responsible for all aspects of the regulator’s legal functions and complex industrial litigation conducted in all states and territories, including numerous High Court appeals.

Notable Work
  • Prior to re-joining Clayton Utz as a Partner in February 2023, as the Deputy Commissioner (Legal) of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, Matt led the agency’s legal function and oversaw the filing of over 70 court proceedings (including four High Court appeals), achieving a 95% litigation success rate.
  • Notably, Matt was responsible for all strategic decisions on the recent landmark High Court decision in Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Pattinson [2022] HCA 13 - a unanimous High Court judgment which overturned the decision of a five member Full Federal Court to find that a maximum penalty under the Fair Work Act can be imposed if there is evidence that a contravention has occurred as a matter of industrial strategy without regard for the law.
  • Prior to that, Matt acted for regulatory clients in leading industrial litigation. This includes numerous proceedings on behalf of the Fair Work Ombudsman concerning:
    • sham contracting, including the successful High Court appeal in Fair Work Ombudsman v Quest South Perth Holdings Pty Ltd [2015] 256 CLR 137;
    • underpayment of wages; and
    • the operation of the Fair Work Act to the offshore resources industry.
  • Matt’s experience includes providing strategic advice to a number of large companies in relation to employment law matters, including enterprise agreement and modern award interpretations, redundancy policies, termination procedures and transmission of business.
  • Matt has appeared on behalf of employer clients in unfair dismissal and general protections applications before the Fair Work Commission and has advised clients on undertaking confidential workplace investigations.
  • Matt has also acted in a range of complex employment litigation in cases involving summary dismissal, misleading and deceptive conduct, rectification and breach of contract.
  • For a decade at Clayton Utz, Matt provided strategic advice to clients on a range of industrial matters relating to unlawful industrial action, right of entry, general protections and contempt.
  • Matt has particular experience in industrial litigation, having worked on a number of large industrial cases before the Federal Court and Fair Work Commission. He has extensive experience in preparing and implementing industrial relations strategies, advising clients in negotiating enterprise agreements, resolving industrial disputes and advising on industrial litigation. Examples include:
    • Broadspectrum: appeared in a successful application to the Fair Work Commission to suspend protected industrial action.
    • Iluka Resources: acted on behalf of Iluka in litigious matters and industrial relations advice including drafting and negotiation of enterprise agreements.
    • Brookfield Multiplex: successfully acted in Federal Court proceedings resulting in total compensation and penalties of $684,000 being awarded on account of large-scale industrial action and coercive conduct at the $2 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital project and the Mundaring wastewater treatment plant and secured an unprecedented injunction. Also acted in Federal Court contempt proceedings arising from a breach of an interlocutory injunction.
  • Matt has extensive experience in providing advice on all aspects of discrimination and equal opportunity law such as advising on equal opportunity investigations, and advising clients on strategies for managing ill and injured employees.
  • Matt's experience includes preparing executive employment agreements, advising on obligations under the Corporations Act and the ASX listing rules, advising on the termination of employment of senior executives, restraint of trade issues and enforcing confidentiality obligations.
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