Sara Dennis is an experienced commercial litigator and advisor who has advised both government and private sector clients in a range of matters including compliance with the product safety and consumer law provisions of the Australian Consumer Law, complex negligence claims and coronial inquests.

Sara has worked with, and provided strategic advice to, clients in relation to consumer product issues which may result in regulatory involvement and recall action. Within the broad context of negligence claims she has been involved in public liability, product liability and medical negligence disputes at the risk management, investigation and trial stages and has been involved in single plaintiff litigation and complex class action litigation. Sara's complementary experience in managing litigation involving claims for statutory benefits for a Victorian government agency has enabled her to understand government's imperatives and expectations.

Sara is a member of Clayton Utz's Diversity Council. She is currently representing Clayton Utz as a participant in the Committee for Melbourne's Future Focus Group 2014-2015.

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Expertise

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Product Liability

Product safety: Sara advises clients when they confront an issue with products they supply or manufacture including: undertaking legal risk assessments to enable clients to determine the risks, and potential exposure, associated with taking (and not taking) product safety action; retaining experts to assess nature and magnitude of risk; consideration issues relating to reputational issues; managing communications, and representing clients at meetings, with regulators. In circumstances where a recall is initiated, Sara assists clients by preparing all relevant documentation (including press releases and letters to end consumers, suppliers and regulators).

 

Compliance with Australian Consumer Law: Sara advises on compliance with the consumer guarantees provisions and requirements when offering warranties against defects and has provided training to clients regarding the operation of these provisions. She also represents clients when the consumer regulator requires them to respond to requests, or attend compulsory interviews to respond to questions, regarding possible breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.

 

Motor vehicle and automotive component manufacturers: Sara advises Australian and international motor vehicle and automotive component manufacturers in relation to product liability issues. She has reviewed vehicle manuals in order to ensure compliance with mandatory standards and minimisation of exposure to potential claims, advised in relation to personal injury claims involving allegations of defective automotive components and regarding strategies associated with product recall and withdrawal from market.

 

Food law: Sara provides advice regarding compliance with various aspects of the Food Standards Code.


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Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Class actions


Supreme Court of Victoria and Federal Court of Australia:
Sara has been a key member of the teams in large class actions in both jurisdictions in the defence of consumer protection (Parts V and VA of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth)) and negligence claims. Sara has particular expertise in managing large scale, often cross-border, discovery.


Vitamins Cartel Private Enforcement Class Action:
Sara was a key member of team involved in the defence of Australia's largest resolved private enforcement class action arising from alleged anti-competitive conduct in the international vitamins industry during the 1990s. This action was successfully reduced from a claim on behalf of the entire Australian human and animal nutrition supply chains (which included every Australian consumer) to a selected group of vitamins in the animal sector only. In October 2006 the Federal Court approved a closed sum settlement scheme under which the respondents made commercial contributions without admission of liability.

 

Coronial inquests

Sara has expertise in the area of coronial inquests. She has represented organisations, government departments and individuals and has assisted them in preparing for hearings, in managing the coronial process and in preparing submissions for the Coroner.

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Class Actions

Supreme Court of Victoria and Federal Court of Australia: Sara has been a key member of the teams in large class actions in both jurisdictions in the defence of consumer protection (Parts V and VA of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth)) and negligence claims. Sara has particular expertise in managing large scale, often cross-border, discovery.

Vitamins Cartel Private Enforcement Class Action: Sara was a key member of team involved in the defence of Australia's largest resolved private enforcement class action arising from alleged anti-competitive conduct in the international vitamins industry during the 1990s. This action was successfully reduced from a claim on behalf of the entire Australian human and animal nutrition supply chains (which included every Australian consumer) to a selected group of vitamins in the animal sector only. In October 2006 the Federal Court approved a closed sum settlement scheme under which the respondents made commercial contributions without admission of liability.


See Class Actions

Knowledge

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