The skillset required to successfully resolve commercial disputes is very broad. Often, significant commercial, financial and personal consequences turn on obtaining accurate advice in a timely fashion enabling you to act or respond quicker and more decisively than your opponent.
Most importantly, we listen carefully and ask the right questions so that we correctly and fully understand your commercial situation and desired outcome. We have the expertise to get you to where you want to be in most cases. If this is not realistic, we will present you with alternatives and work with you to formulate a plan which is most advantageous to you or your business.
Governments or their appointed officials make decisions which affect us every day. But what can you do when the decision is wrong? Administrative review is the process by which incorrect government decisions can be challenged, altered or changed. We need to know: • Which department, organisation or government has made the original unfavourable decision. • As much information as possible about why the decision was made and about why the decision is wrong. • What steps (if any) have been taken since the original unfavourable decision was made. • If any deadlines are approaching or have passed. We will then determine which process, Tribunal for example the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) or Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or Court, for example the NSW South Wales Supreme Court or Federal Court of Australia is the “next step” and assist you get things moving. There are important time limits in administrative review, so it is vital that you contact us as soon as possible!
Appeals from tribunal or court decisions
If any Court or Tribunal has made a decision adverse to your interests you must act promptly as very strict deadlines apply. Not all Court or Tribunal decisions can be appealed. In some cases, an appeal is a matter of right, but in others there is no avenue of appeal available. Our experienced lawyers have acted in appeals involving tribunals and Courts as all levels including in the High Court of Australia. We know what to do and we know how to do it within time. You need to engage our experienced lawyers as soon as possible to get urgent advice!
Banking and finance disputes
Banking law is a niche area of the law which governs the conduct of those within the banking industry. Banks usually have a contractual relationship with their customers, but in addition to this, will usually not be able to contract out of their legal obligations. Our lawyers can advise you about banking legislation and review any contracts that are relevant to your banking issues. Our lawyers are particularly experienced with disputes against banks, which can be frustrating. The most common banking disputes revolve around mortgages. A mortgage will usually be for a personal purpose (for example to purchase a property that is to be a place of residence) or for some business or commercial purpose. Mortgage documents are often confusing. Our banking and financial services lawyers will be able to advise the client on the terms and conditions of the mortgage document, so that the person is aware of the avenues that are open to the lender, when the lender claims any of its rights pursuant to terms and conditions set out in the document. Mortgage and banking disputes may also include other areas of law such as professional negligence, contractual interpretation, unconscionability, as well as misleading or deceptive conduct, in financial services. We can assist clients with banking and mortgage disputes that are usually heard before the Supreme Court of New South Wales. These disputes are often protracted and involve multiple complex issues, including determinations as to whether the lender has taken appropriate (or of course inappropriate) action in the proceedings, to that point. In addition, we can advise on whether a Defendant has a defence (and in some cases even also a cross-claim) to any Supreme Court proceedings, seeking monetary orders or orders for possession of the property. Our team of commercial litigation lawyers can also assist professionals in the financial services industry by providing legal advice about specific laws that may be required, in order to obtain licences to work as a financial services professional (such as an Australian Credit License or an Australian Financial Services License). In circumstances where you are experiencing difficulty in obtaining a relevant financial services license from ASIC, we are able to assist with representation in our ASIC communications as well as handle any disputes that arise from this. If you are having a dispute with a bank about your products, or a dispute with a bank or lender relating to your home loan and/or mortgage, we can assist. Please contact us to discuss, as soon as possible.
Building and construction disputes
There are many different moving parts when it comes to a successful build, so it is not unusual that disputes often arise during this process. We are experienced in advising any or all of the parties typically a part of building process, including: • Developers • Builders • Contractors • The landowners • Consultants, such as architects We are experienced in these types of disputes and can advise you on various matters, including: • Contractual breaches • Recovery of debts • Payment claims • Representation in the Tribunal or Court The area of the law relating to building and construction is complex and there can be strict time limits within which to act. Our lawyers can help you to resolve your matter at any stage of the process. However, it is always best to speak with us as early on as possible to enable us to provide you with the best assistance, strategy and advice which will help you to achieve your objectives in a commercially sensible way.
To properly understand your contract dispute we will need to know: • What was agreed, promised or said. • What (if anything) was done. • Is performance adequate or inadequate, why and to what extent. • If any documents evidence the terms of the agreement. This may include correspondence such as emails, WeChat or other social media messages, requests for tender, leases, terms of sale, purchase orders … the list goes on. They say that a verbal contract is only as good as the paper it’s written on. And that may be true. But not always. There are other considerations that may apply. See our sections on family disputes, partnership disputes and disputes involving companies, trusts or associations for some examples. Perhaps most importantly, in a dispute over a contract we take the time to fully understand your commercial position. Then we can advise you. Is it best to negotiate a new contract or to commence court proceedings over the old one? Do any claims made against you stack up? Our experienced lawyers have been involved in all types of contract dispute right through to disputes involving very large amounts of money. No job is too big or small. Contact us as soon as possible because strict time limits may apply.
Companies, trusts or incorporated associations disputes regarding their operation or control
The reality is that, regardless of whether your business or assets are in companies or trusts, such structures are really only a means of regulating interaction between the individuals involved. Companies and trusts operate well only as long as relations are harmonious between the relevant individuals, especially individuals in positions of power such as directors and trustees. But with power comes responsibilities. And this is where advice from our experienced lawyers is crucial, enabling you to answer such questions as: • Is the relevant company, trust or association set up adequately? • How must the company, trust or association be operated, and is this being done? • How can control of the company, trust or association be restrained or changed, including by court order? • How can you benefit from the situation? We have seen it all before. Our experienced lawyers have been in boardrooms and at meetings with trustees and the committee, including with a recording device running when necessary. Sometimes, shortly after meeting the parties are in court in a fight to the death. Our lawyers thrive in these situations. This is when their tenacity and knowledge about corporate, trust or association law will help you prevail. You need an experienced negotiator, legal advisor and advocate. Protect your interests and call us today!
Defamation can occur in a wide variety of ways, be that via social media or in front of a group of people. Defamation can occur not only to a person, as it is also possible to defame a company. However, this is subject to certain criteria being met, including that the company have no more than a specified number of employees, among other things. More recently, amendments were made to the relevant legislation governing defamation that introduced a “serious harm” threshold. This means that the person complaining of having been defamed must satisfy the Court that it has caused, or is likely to case, “serious harm” to the reputation of that person. The area of the law relating to defamation is complex and there are strict time limits within which to act. Our lawyers can help you to resolve your defamation matter at any stage of the process. However, it is always best to speak with us as early on as possible to enable us to provide you with the best assistance, strategy and advice which will help you to achieve your objectives in a commercially sensible way.
Employment disputes encompass a wide variety of matters, including: • Bullying and harassment • Discrimination • Unfair dismissal • Constructive dismissal • General protections claims • Allegations of sexual harassment • Sham redundancies • Sham contractor arrangements The most common types of employment disputes relate to unfair dismissal and sham redundancies. Unfair dismissals are the unfairly harsh or unreasonable dismissal of an employee by an employer. Sham redundancies are where employers dismiss employees on the grounds that the job is no longer required to be performed but, in reality, it is not the real or predominant reason for wishing to let the employee go. The area of the law relating to employment disputes is complex and there can be strict time limits within which to act. Our lawyers can help you to resolve your matter at any stage of the process. However, it is always best to speak with us as early on as possible to enable us to provide you with the best assistance, strategy and advice which will help you to achieve your objectives in a commercially sensible way.
Family business disputes
As families accumulate, create and protect wealth across generations, various structures such as corporations, and trusts are created to hold assets or run businesses. But what do you do when other family members become greedy, lazy, dishonest or otherwise threaten your interests in the family assets and businesses? Our experienced lawyers can quickly: • Work out the nature and legal effect of whatever structures have been put in place. • Take instructions from you about the various parties involved and their interests. • Apply their specialist knowledge about business disputes. • Advise you about the best possible outcomes and quickest possible timeframes. If money or assets have been taken or are at risk - we will help you move quickly to obtain injunctions such as freezing orders or appoint an administrator. If court proceedings have commenced against you - we will help you respond and get back in control. Even if multiple parties are involved - we will negotiate aggressively on your behalf. If you are in a fight with your family members about the family businesses or assets, it may not be in your interests to use your regular family lawyer. They may be conflicted from assisting you. They may have experience in setting up businesses, but may not have experience in commercial dispute resolution. You can rely on the specialist experience of our commercial litigation lawyers in family business disputes!
We have acted in many types of franchise disputes, including where international or national franchisors are involved and also where the franchise agreement was very poorly drafted and looked like a young child had written it. We kid you not - there are some very poor operators out there, both franchisors and franchisees. But regardless of whether you are a franchisee who has been taken advantage of, or a large franchisor owed money by a franchisee who is not paying their way under the franchise agreement, our expert franchise dispute lawyers have seen it all before. This is why we can give you the advice you need to make the hard decisions necessary to resolve your franchise dispute. You do need specialist legal advise before you: • Cut away a non-compliant franchisee. • Commence proceedings against the franchisor. • Attempt to negotiate concerning any serious conflict about a franchise agreement. • Take steps if you or your company are substantially in arrears in respect of your financial obligations under a franchise agreement. Contact us today and get advise from our experienced franchise dispute lawyers before you make an unnecessary, expensive or other wrong move!
Insolvency or near insolvency both personal and corporate
Insolvency, put simply, is when a company or person cannot pay debts when they fall due. In the case of a person, this typically results in bankruptcy. The bankruptcy process can be brought on voluntarily by the person unable to pay their debts, known as a “debtor’s petition”, and also by a creditor, known as a “creditor’s petition”. In terms of companies, if a company owes you money and the debt is a simple contractual debt that is unlikely to be contested, there is the option of serving what’s known as a Statutory Demand. If the debtor company does not pay the amount demanded or apply to set-aside the Statutory Demand within 21 days - the company will be deemed insolvent and the creditor can commence the process of winding-up the company premised on that deemed insolvency event. The area of the law relating to insolvency is complex and there are strict time limits within which to act. Our lawyers can help you to resolve situations concerning solvent at any stage of the process. However, it is always best to speak with us as early on as possible to enable us to provide you with the best assistance, strategy and advice which will help you to achieve your objectives in a commercially sensible way.
Insurance disputes acting for the insured
Before we can advise you about an insurance dispute we need to consider: • Legislation which is applicable to the specific type of insurance involved. • Your insurance policy. • The facts giving rise to your insurance claim. • The response of the insurer to your claim. There may be avenues open to you to have an unfavorable decision by an insurer reviewed, and we can assist you with that. You may be able to commence proceedings in a Court or Tribunal against the insurer, and although our expert insurance dispute lawyers are experienced in such court proceedings, this is rarely, if ever, the next step or only option available. It is important to remember that insurers are motivated by purely legal and commercial considerations. Motives such as vengeance, greed, envy, jealousy and hate do not play a part in the actions of an insurer in disputes with the insured. Our experienced insurance dispute lawyers have acted for and against insurers and are ideally placed to assist you end an insurance dispute and get a favourable result. There are strict time limits in insurance disputes. You should not delay in contacting us for assistance as this may have a devastating effect on the outcome we can help you achieve!
Insurance disputes acting for the insurer
Our experienced insurance dispute lawyers have acted for both domestic and foreign insurers. Our lawyers also act for insured parties and our balanced outlook allows us to bring a real sense of commercial reality to the resolution of insurance disputes. Contact us today and explore all options concerning your dispute with the insured.
Intellectual property disputes
Intellectual property consists of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. In further detail: • A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a new product or a process that provides a new way of doing something. • A copyright protects original works of authorship, including writing, music or images. • A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing goods or services. • A trade secret is any practice or process that is generally not known by “outsiders” and has commercial value/economic benefit because other people or entities don’t know about it. Whilst intellectual property disputes often occur on the global stage between multinational companies, these sorts of disputes can also occur domestically. There is great value in a well-respected brand, and this is often down to a company’s intellectual property. The law relating to intellectual property disputes is complex and there can be strict time limits within which to act. Our lawyers can help you to resolve your matter at any stage of the process. However, it is always best to speak with us as early on as possible to enable us to provide you with the best assistance, strategy and advice which will help you to achieve your objectives in a commercially sensible way.
Investigations, regulatory compliance & enforcement
It can be very stressful to receive a notice or “request” to make yourself available for interview by a seemingly hostile, suspicious and aggressive government agency. Why should an investigator be able to pry into your documents? Thankfully, the experienced lawyers at Longton Legal can assist you with an appropriate response which takes into consideration your situation, aims and objectives. Frankly, investigations are a waste of your time and money when you have done nothing wrong. There is, however, a way to speak to regulators which enables them to complete and finalise their investigation but doesn’t compromise your position. Our aim is to end the process as soon as possible with no negative outcome so you can get back to business. But sometimes the regulator just gets it wrong. Our lawyers are experienced with enforcement of your rights in court against such bodies as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), various state licensing bodies and others. Don’t risk loss of your licence/accreditation or an expensive prosecution without aggressive legal assistance!
It is disappointing: • When our business or financial interests suffer loss unnecessarily because of the carelessness of another. • To receive advise which is wrong and costly, from the very “professional” we hired to advise us in the first place. The question of whether the individual, entity or “professional” who caused you loss is liable to compensate you in negligence can be a difficult one to answer. We will leave no stone unturned to get compensation for you, if at all possible. There are some situations where a duty of care is owed to you. For example, a solicitor acting for you, a builder you engage to construct your house or an architect designing an office building for you. Some situations are unclear and require investigation by lawyers who know what they are doing in this area. Did the careless action cause the damage? Our experienced lawyers have worked with many different kinds of expert witness who can produce an expert report which will assist a judge find that the damage was (or was not) caused by the action in question. We will give you robust, comprehensive, accurate and timely advise which puts you in a position to decide whether you should pursue a negligence claim as claimant, whether you are at risk of an adverse finding as a defendant or whether you should do a commercial deal “cut your losses” and simply move on.
Partnerships disputes typically occur between business partners that have a falling out and wish to part ways. Some typical examples include: • Underperformance of a partner. • A partner making side income or not dedicating enough time to the business in order to pursue their own concerns. • Misappropriation of funds or other breaches of duties. • Death or an unintended departure of a partner. There is specific legislation that governs this area of the law. However, the first step is read and review the Partnership Agreement, if there is one. If such an agreement does not exist or it is found lacking, it is possible that the relevant legislation (and potentially the common law) will assist in fill in any gaps. The area of the law relating to partnership disputes is complex. Our lawyers can help you to resolve your dispute at any stage of the process. However, it is always best to speak with us as early on as possible to enable us to provide you with the best assistance, strategy and advice which will help you to achieve your objectives in a commercially sensible way.
In planning matters, legal advice early in the stages of work is crucial, to ensure the efficient progress of your proposed development. Longton Legal is able to assist across the various stages of a proposed development, as well as offer legal representation, in the event of any disputes with the local council. The majority of development, environmental and planning disputes are heard in the NSW Land and Environment Court, which is governed by the provisions of the Land and Environment Court Act 1979 (NSW). If you have been refused development consent for a proposed development or have not been provided with a development consent in a timely fashion, our lawyers can assist you with a planning dispute in the Land and Environment Court, against the local council. If you decide to obtain legal representation, it is something that you should do quickly, to ensure that your matter is commenced in the right Court and/or in the right jurisdiction. Such disputes often involve multiple expert witnesses, including traffic consultants, town planners, engineers, arborists as well as other experts. It is critical, in such matters, that you have the right legal representation, to assist you. Our commercial litigation lawyers can assist litigants before the Land and Environment Court and can appear for clients in Land and Environment Court matters, with or without counsel (barristers) assisting, depending on the complexity of the matter. Contact us for experienced advice and representation in planning disputes!
Property & leasing disputes
Much of the wealth of Australians is tied up in property. Now, more than ever, a breach of your property or commercial lease rights can result in significant losses. Think not only about the loss of a deposit or cost today. If your property plans are unable to be realised now, the compounding effect over time can magnify the loss greatly. Our lawyers are experienced in disputes about or involving conveyancing, mortgages, caveats, trusts, leases, easements and other situations involving property or leases. Call us today to get correct advise about your property or lease dispute!
Shareholder disputes typically occur between shareholders in a company that have a falling out and wish to part ways. Some typical examples might include: • Underperformance of the company. • Different strategic plans and goals. • Issues with the directors of the company (who are frequently representatives of the major shareholders). There is specific legislation that governs this area of the law. However, the first step is to read and review the Shareholders Agreement, if there is one. If such an agreement does not exist or it is found lacking, it is possible that the relevant legislation (and, potentially, the common law) will assist to fill in any gaps. The area of the law relating to shareholder disputes is complex. Our lawyers can help you to resolve your dispute at any stage of the process. However, it is always best to speak with us as early on as possible to enable us to provide you with the best assistance, strategy and advice which will help you to achieve your objectives in a commercially sensible way.
Tree and hedge disputes
Tree and hedge disputes frequently arise between neighbours. Whilst it is good practice to try and resolve such disputes with your neighbor directly and without intervention of the Court, sometimes that is just not possible. Disputes involving trees and hedges are most frequently dealt with in the Land & Environment Court of NSW. This is a specialist Court that has both Commissioners and Judges, including a dedicated division (Class 2) to resolving tree and hedge disputes. There is specific legislation and regulations which govern this area of the law and the jurisdiction of the Court to intervene in such matters. Often, reports from specialist professionals, such as an arborist or an engineer, may be necessary to help convince the Court to make, or not make, certain orders. Our lawyers can help you to resolve your tree and hedge disputes at any stage of the process. However, it is always best to speak with us as early on as possible to enable us to provide you with the best assistance, strategy and advice which will help you to achieve your objectives in a commercially sensible way.
Urgent injunctions and freezing orders
Freezing orders are when the court makes an order preventing a party from putting money or assets beyond the reach of the court. This allows you to maintain the “status quo” and have a properly prepared hearing about the issue later on. Injunctions are often made by a court to prevent a party from talking some action which may be harmful to you. Many lawyers are not equipped to seek urgent court orders such as injunctions or freezing orders. When time is of the essence and your money or goods have been taken or are at risk, you do not have time to waste with anything but lawyers who are experienced in obtaining these drastic remedies from the court urgently. Our lawyers have this experience and know what to do when you want us to be in front of a judge getting court orders in place within a matter of hours, not days. When your opponent strips a joint bank account of money, when you discover that your assets are being loaded onto a ship for removal from Australia, or when you need to urgently prevent any commercially harmful event, our experienced lawyers are ready to spring into action!
Partner | Accredited Commercial Litigation Specialist NSW
Partner | Accredited Dispute Resolution & Commercial Litigation Specialist