We work as part of the team which can include multiple external law firms, internal legal and commercial teams, counsel, executives and boards. We advise on litigation support through all stages of the cycle. Our litigation communications support group includes lawyers with a strong background in journalism and experienced corporate communications experts.
Our work includes:
- Litigation support in the longest running civil case in Australia’s history
- Advising top tier law firms on legal actions against the firms
- Advice to the boards of major publicly listed companies where sexual harassment charges were brought against chief executives
- Advice and stakeholder communications strategy for major Australian companies for breaches of international laws and subsequent international investigations, inquiries and sanctions
We understand that:
- The first duty is always to the court and a client’s obligations to the court. Any litigation support must always support the legal strategy and have input and approval from the external and internal legal teams.
- Few things can be as destructive to reputation as allegations made in court, be they of corruption, sexual harassment, breaches of the Corporations Act or negligence. There is a lot to lose when your company is before the courts.
- How stakeholders like shareholders, employees, governments and consumers understand a case, bears directly on reputation and a company’s social license to operate.
- There are inherent, uncontrollable risks in litigation, and in an age when reputation management is critical, it is best practice to have a litigation communication support strategy to run alongside any legal strategy.
- Without a communications strategy to compliment a legal strategy, even a positive legal outcome can cause significant reputation damage.
- Done well, good litigation communications mitigates risk, something no corporate should ever shy away from.
- One of the key elements of any litigation support plan is always going to be media management.
Our approach is:
- A litigation support strategy is better than silence, which on its own often speaks volumes more than intended, and gives a counter party a very large opportunity to influence the discourse about you or your company.
- To get a deep understanding of the matter, be familiar with pleadings and be able to speak knowledgeably about the matter.
- Adopt a statesman like approach, always respecting the court rules.
- To engage in a meaningful way with the media and have already established relationships as a case progresses to trial.
- About providing an often much needed different perspective on matters. It is also carefully thinking about a strategy and its execution, knowing where you are weak and where you are strong, and being prepared to respond to the unknown.
Our experience includes:
- Litigation support in the longest running civil case in Australia’s history, involving a multi-billion dollar claim against a syndicate of 20 local and international banks.
- Advice to three of Australia’s leading professional services firms in relation to significant fraud and impropriety allegations affecting client confidence.
- Advice to the boards of major publicly listed companies where sexual harassment charges were brought against chief executives, including stakeholder communications support during litigation and resolution of multi-million dollar claims.
- Ongoing global advice, strategy development, direction and coordination for the Governing Bodies of International Tennis (ATP, WTA, ITF and the Grand Slam Board) and the Tennis Integrity Board - including establishing the Independent Review Panel in London for the review into the Integrity of Tennis, preparation for the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the UK and chairing the subcommittee delegated to manage all aspects of the issue.
- Ongoing advice and litigation support for a Fortune 500 multinational pharmaceutical company in one of the largest product liability class actions in Australian history. The case ran for five months and included working with two law firms and the client’s in-house legal and communications teams.
- Advice and litigation support for a matter brought by the ACCC against a NYSE-listed pharmaceutical company for misusing substantial market power and engaging in exclusive dealing. Our advice and work extended from the commencement of litigation to finalisation of appeal and included all media engagement.
- Litigation support for an ASX 50 mining company in relation to a class action commenced subsequent to a regulatory investigation and agreed penalty. This involved several John Connolly & Partners’ consultants, including a Partner, being seconded into the client’s office to work with the in-house communications team for several weeks, with the matter ultimately settling.
- Litigation support for a FTSE 100 company sued by an Australian private equity firm in the Federal Court of Australia for breach of contract and other claims. The company was awarded judgment in its favour, thereby eschewing the $200 million claim.
- Acting for and advising an international commercial law firm which was being sued by the relative of an internationally-revered Australian sporting identity who was a former client of the law firm.
- Media and litigation support, including significant social media management, for a multinational luxury cosmetics brand following the sale of fake product through one of Australia’s most respected retail chains.
- Litigation support and advice to a listed retailer for a matter where the regulator was opposing an acquisition critical to the future of the company, both at first instance and at appeal.
- Litigation support for a major listed media company involved in a contractual dispute over the employment of a new CEO.
- Global advice on sensitive issues involving the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Justice and similar institutions.
- Media and litigation support during coronial and mining warden inquiries into major mining disasters with multiple fatalities in Australia and in Papua New Guinea; and for Australia’s largest chemical explosion.
- Advice and stakeholder communications strategy for major Australian companies for breaches of international laws and subsequent international investigations, inquiries and sanctions impacting customer and investor relationships, and business reputation.
- Advice to one of the world’s largest shipping organisations following the death of a passenger in suspicious circumstances. The case captured international media attention and our work included implementing an 18-month program that supported the company through a coronial inquiry, litigation by relatives and ultimately oversaw changes in the governance, personnel, policies and practices of the company internationally.
- Managing stakeholder relations and litigation support in a multi-billion dollar action against one of Australia’s leading financial institutions, whose market capitalisation at the time was less than the claim.
- Managing the communication response of a major resources company to the jailing of five executives in Indonesia for environmental crimes including coordinating government and embassy interaction across three countries, providing litigation communication support throughout the nine-month trial, upgrading and developing action plans to address community concerns, implementing media, NGO and international communication programs to raise the profile of the case.
- Advice and litigation support on class action suits against large corporations in Australia, Indonesia and the US including some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.
- Media and communications support, on behalf of an American corporation, for Australian families who lost family members due to violence against the company’s operations in Papua.