LAURA KEILY | Barrister | About Laura
Laura Keily is a barrister and a bold advocate who advises on the full gamut of business disputes in Australia.
Barrister, Australia, Corporations Law, Legal Disputes
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About Laura

LAURA KEILY, Barrister

BSC, LLB (HONS), MCOMMRCLLAW
A SPECIALIST IN CORPORATIONS LAW WITH A HOLISTIC PRACTICE IN ALL ASPECTS OF CORPORATE REGULATION AND PRACTICE: FROM INCORPORATION TO INSOLVENCY, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN INCLUDING COMPETITION, TAX AND COMMERCIAL DISPUTES.

Laura has over a decade of experience as a blue chip corporate advisor in Melbourne (Blake Dawson Waldron, Corrs Chambers Westgarth) and London (Slaughter and May). She has negotiated many high value and cross-border acquisitions, takeovers and schemes of arrangement. Laura is also an experienced general counsel, company director and trustee.

 

Laura is a bold advocate whose breadth of experience, combined with her expert knowledge of corporate law, places her in a unique position to maximise outcomes for clients. She is often called upon to represent companies, directors and government in cases involving corporate law and finance issues, regulatory dealings with ASIC, and insolvency and bankruptcy scenarios. In addition, she is proficient in insurance, property, construction, competition and taxation matters. She is equally adept at general commercial litigation and has conducted a number of complex commercial trials. Laura regularly appears in the Federal and Supreme Courts.

 

Laura’s technical expertise has been recognised in recent appointments to the Law Council of Australia’s Corporations and Competition and Consumer Committees. She holds three first class degrees: Masters of Commercial Law, Bachelor of Laws (Hons), and Bachelor of Science (in Chemistry and Physics).

Academic achievements

Bachelor of Science (Major in Chemistry), Deakin University, 1997
Bachelor of Laws (Hons), First Class Honours, Deakin University, 1998
Admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Victoria and High Court, in April 2000
Admitted to the Supreme Court of England and Wales (following examination) in 2004
Masters of Commercial Law, The University of Melbourne, 2009.

Click here for a detailed review of Laura’s achievements.

Memberships
  • Association of Corporate Counsel – Member
  • Australian Institute of Company Directors – Member
  • Commercial Bar Association – Member
  • International Bar Association – Member
  • Law Council of Australia – Corporations Committee
  • Law Council of Australia – Competition and Consumer Committee
  • Tax Bar Association – Member
  • Tax Institute of Victoria – Member
  • Victorian Women Lawyers – Member, Mentor in Mentoring Program
  • Women Barristers’ Association – Committee Member
  • Women in Insolvency and Restructuring Victoria – Member
  • Women in Insurance – Member
  • University of Melbourne Alumni Mentoring Program – Mentor
  • Bottled Snail Productions Inc – Member and Occasional Vocalist
  • Habeas Chorus – Lawyer’s Choir Member
Law reform

Laura is an active participant in law reform.

 

As a member of the Law Council of Australia’s Corporations Committee, she participated in the Council’s submission on the Review of Insolvency and Bankruptcy laws, including the proposed directors’ duties “Safe Harbour” legislation for insolvent trading. She has been involved in discussions with ASX about review of certain listing rules.  As a member of the Law Council of Australia’s Competition and Consumer Law Committee, she was an active member of the Council’s subcommittee that prepared a submission on the government’s review of the Australian Consumer Law.

 

In addition, she has made an impact through the particular cases in which she has been involved.

  • Consumer Affairs Victoria v Accrue Property Pty Ltd (2015):  Successfully settled (by enforceable undertaking) a case of misleading and deceptive conduct alleged by Consumer Affairs Victoria under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 against a company and its director (un-led). Working for a defendant against a corporate regulator is always a challenge, because the regulator has both specific and general deterrence in mind. I have found the best way to assist companies in navigating these disputes is to negotiate often and early, to offer practical solutions that address the kind of behaviours the government seeks to curtail and to emphasise the interests of the investors in a particular company. I used lateral thinking in my defence of a director against Consumer Affairs Victoria, by redrafting the standard enforceable undertaking to make it palatable to my client whilst also achieving the deterrence objectives that the director sought.  I reviewed all of the available case law on an expansive and unique basis. My direct negotiations with General Counsel of Consumer Affairs Victoria, regarding that case law, led to permanent changes in the type of enforceable undertaking sought by Consumer Affairs Victoria.
  • The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services was looking into allegations the banks had acted unfairly in downgrading the value of properties and then calling a default under the loan, because the loan-to-value ratio had increased even though the borrower had not in fact failed to make a payment under the relevant loan. ASIC asked me to assess the current state of the law in this regard and assist them with the drafting of their submission to the enquiry. The greatest obstacle involved in this matter was to assess an ever-moving feast regarding the law of unconscionable conduct in Australia. In addition to the equitable principle of unconscionability, the relatively new Australian Consumer Law imposes a prohibition on statutory unconscionable conduct. This is broader than the equitable principle in theory and is not limited by it. However, there is very little guidance from the case law as to which types of conduct shall amount to unconscionability. Accordingly, in accordance with the approach I have just discussed, it was necessary for me to include commentary on how the law should operate in this particular circumstance if the matter were to come before the courts. The Court is likely to look back at the PJC findings in interpreting the legislation going forward.
  • In the Matter of Planet Platinum Ltd (Provisional Liquidator Appointed) (December 2015). I recently drafted a scheme of arrangement for shareholders, which was proposed by a liquidator.  This was in the context of a hotly contested injunction.. This was a new and unusual situation, but I went back to first principles in order to design a novel approach to the scheme and completely rewrote the scheme of arrangement precedents, so that the liquidator would be in charge of a members’ scheme.  My presentation of a complete package of documents (within 2 business days) enabled the court to grant an unprecedented injunction to my client against the liquidator, preventing the liquidator from selling the key asset of the company out from under my client.
  • In the Matter of Midland Highway Pty Ltd (Administrators Appointed) (October 2015): Defending an urgent application bought by ASIC in the Federal Court to set aside a proposed deed of company arrangement (with Leslie Glick QC). This case and the judgement by Beach J outlined the limits of the public interest test in setting aside a deed of company arrangement.

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