Best Lawyers works with leaders in the legal marketplace to keep our practice area lists current, allowing clients and referring lawyers to more easily locate the precise expertise they are seeking.
View region-specific practice areas by first selecting a country from the drop-down below.
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
Agriculture & Rural Affairs Definition
Lawyers who practise in this area need to have broad legal knowledge as well as a keen understanding of the special issues that concern those who work in agricultural and rural businesses.
An agriculture and rural affairs practice can service a wide range of clients ranging from corporations of varying sizes involved in agribusiness, non-government organisations like the National Farmers Federation and its constituent members (such as Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Livestock Exporters Council, Cotton Australia, GrainGrowers, and so on), and Government Departments like the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
What does a day in the life of an agriculture and rural affairs lawyer look like? A lawyer in this practice area could be working on the provision of high level advice to Government on trade or biosecurity issues, or acting for a company or individual on the sale or purchase of grazing and farming properties (including contract negotiation, due diligence, and contract preparation), advice about water entitlements; compensation for the compulsory acquisition of land or entitlements; advice about the import or export of agricultural products; and advice about various forms of land tenures, including native title.
Dealing with Government is a big part of legal practice in this area. This can involve assisting clients with obtaining approvals to export agricultural produce, assisting with obtaining Foreign Investment Review Board approval of sales and purchases, and obtaining other regulatory approvals.
There is a significant cross-over between this area of practice and environmental and planning law. Lawyers practising in this area can provide assistance with land and vegetation clearing laws, advice about the environmental approvals and licences that may be required to establish a particular kind of agricultural industry, and even dealing with actions taken by Government authorities to control noxious weeds and other environmental pests.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative Dispute Resolution Definition
Asset Finance Law
Asset Finance Law Definition
Aviation Law Definition
As an area of legal practice, Aviation Law is perhaps informed more by the scope of the industry than by a category of laws. This is because insurance law, products law, and personal injuries claims can and do all fit within the practice of Aviation Law, as well as a number of other specialist areas of legal practice. To therefore best summarise Aviation Law in Australia, is to explain the four key legal drivers in Aviation and related practice of law in each area.
The first area of Aviation Law comes from the international and domestic regulation of airline and charter operations, both in relation to the regulation of the carriers and their pilots, and also of course relating to liabilities to passengers, crew, property, cargo, and objects on the ground. Related to this field of aviation is the management of hull losses, and involvement of periphery aviation services such as fuel suppliers, licensed aircraft maintenance engineers, ground handlers, and product manufacturers. Sports and tourism aviation also face many similar legal issues to the general aviation industry, however as an area of law, is perhaps more exposed to liability outside the exclusive regimes applicable to passenger claims.
The second area of Aviation law comes in the specialist management and advice on myriad commercial agreements and regulatory instruments spanning aircraft and parts finance, lease and purchase, ground handling, charter, license, AOC, passenger terms and conditions, freight, catering, fuel supply, etc. Many of these instruments and agreements are subject to specific aviation domestic and international regulations and involve multiple jurisdictions.
Next is the highly specialised and quite extensive regulation of Australian airports, ranging from a number of airside and landside issues from noise and height regulation, environmental, master plans, security and access, to the liability exposures of airports to aircraft operations and also the travelling public and concomitant occupational risks.
Finally, an emerging area of Aviation Law principally at this stage on the regulatory aspects, but also for personal injury and property damage claims, is in the area of unmanned aerial devices. As this industry grows, as is the expectation and experience both locally and internationally, so too will the regulatory focus and exposure to liability risks.
Banking and Finance Law
Banking and Finance Law Definition
Banking and finance law in Australia covers a wide array of legal practice. It encompasses matters relating to borrowing, lending, banking regulation, asset ownership, corporate structures, insolvency, property law, laws on security, and general common and corporate law issues. Banking and finance matters also extend to securitisation, debt capital markets, and asset finance (including plane and ship financing).
Given its breadth, many general corporate transactions also extend to matters within the banking and finance sphere, requiring the input of banking and finance legal experts.
Banking and finance transactions will usually be centered around the borrowing and lending of money, whether by way of new money or the provision of a refinancing facility. Provision of financial accommodation can be limited to specific purposes, such as the acquisition or development of real property, or for broader purposes as seen in general corporate facilities. A detailed legal knowledge of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth) and its practical operation is key to all banking and finance transactions, including those that are unsecured.
Lawyers may act for lenders (including regulated and unregulated banks, insurers, and private lenders), borrowers (individuals and corporates), custodians, trustees, facility agents, arrangers, and security trustees.
The documentation involved in a transaction will largely be determined by the transaction’s financial size and, accordingly, based on the inherent risk for the lender. Straightforward, small- to mid-market transactions will likely be documented by way of bank standard form documents, while larger or more complex transactions will use the lender’s law firm’s documentation. Institutional transactions will often use industry standard documents produced by the Asia Pacific Loan Market Association as the starting point for document negotiation.
Banking and finance lawyers can also advise on hedging arrangements, with the Australian market being very familiar with the International Swaps and Derivatives Association documentation.
In addition to documenting, negotiating and completing the provision of financial accommodation, banking and finance in Australia also covers:
• providing advice to credit providers regarding the Australian Financial Services Licence and Australian Credit Licence regimes
• providing advice to Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions regarding the Banking Act and their compliance obligations, and
• providing services and advice on stand still arrangements, work-outs and security enforcement, with such services extending to enforcing a party’s legal rights under transaction documents in and outside court.
Bet-the-Company Litigation Definition
Biotechnology Law Definition
Civil Rights Law
Civil Rights Law Definition
Class Action Litigation
Class Action Litigation Definition
Climate Change Law
Climate Change Law Definition
Commercial Law Definition
The practice of corporate/commercial law in Australia touches on a very broad range of legal specializations.
At its heart, corporate/commercial law involves:
- The consideration of the Law of Contract as it applies to corporations engaging in trade and commerce; and
- The interpretation and application of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) which is the central statute governing corporate law in Australia.
As such, the practice of corporate/commercial law in Australia requires:
- A deep understanding of the Law of Contract which is largely derived from the Common Law (i.e. case-based and Court-developed precedent) with certain parameters imposed by statute (such as legislation dealing with consumer protection, unjust contracts, competition/anti-trust law, and time-bars on claims)
- Considerable knowledge and experience of corporate law, in particular the Corporations Act which applies to bodies corporate and includes foreign incorporated bodies carrying on business in Australia and certain trust structures such as managed investment schemes.
The Corporations Act governs: the establishment of corporations; membership rights and obligations; corporate governance (e.g. director's duties and requirements for meetings of members and directors); solvency; funding (both debt and equity) and the associated financial services licensing regime which regulates offers of financial products, providing financial advice and related services; capital management (e.g. share buybacks, capital reductions, and financial assistance); continuous disclosure, disclosure of direct and indirect share ownership and related issues such as insider trading, where company securities trade on a financial market; and acquisitions (including public company takeovers, schemes of arrangement, and compulsory acquisition of securities).
It is also important in the practice of corporate and commercial law in Australia to have an understanding of a number of important regulatory bodies, such as the Takeovers Panel (which has a significant oversight of takeovers and schemes of arrangement involving companies with 50 members or more) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) (the main Australian corporate regulator, which operates under a separate statute and is responsible for both the regulation of bodies corporate and the development of policy and guidelines for the operation of the Corporations Act). Additionally, in the listed company environment, an understanding of the financial markets and financial markets operators that carry on business in Australia, (principally ASX Ltd and the listing rules of ASX Ltd) is required.
As a consequence, corporate/commercial lawyers are required to have the skills and experience to canvass a very wide range of issues at some depth.
Commodities Law Definition
Competition Law Definition
Since 1906, Australia has had laws designed to eliminate anticompetitive conduct and to create markets which work for all participants. The current principal legislation is the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (‘CCA’). The stated purpose of the CCA is to ‘enhance the welfare of Australians through the promotion of competition and fair trading and provision for consumer protection.’
The CCA prohibits conduct by businesses which tend to result in negative outcomes for consumers such as agreements between competitors to divide territories, allocate customers, fix prices, or rig bids in a tender process; exclusive dealing arrangements which substantially lessen competition; resale price maintenance; and mergers and acquisitions which reduce competition in a market.
Competition law requires not only an understanding of the provisions of the CCA but also a working knowledge of economic concepts, as the specialty requires an understanding of markets and market dynamics.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’) is the regulator charged with ensuring compliance with the CCA. A contravention of the CCA can result in prosecution by the ACCC for civil or criminal offences. The ACCC can seek substantial monetary penalties including fines of up to three times the benefit of any cartel conduct and 10% of the annual turnover of the company or group of companies responsible for any anticompetitive conduct. In addition, individuals may be imprisoned for cartel conduct.
The CCA also provides individuals and businesses the right to bring proceedings to recover damages from persons who have caused that damage by breaching provisions of the CCA.
In practice, competition lawyers provide advice to individual and corporate clients to assist their compliance with the CCA in their day to day business or in relation to specific transactions. Competition lawyers are also often experienced in litigation, defending an action brought by the ACCC or managing litigation against another party. Some competition lawyers will have general experience across competition law, others may be more specialised in one specific area of competition regulation such as:
• Access regimes
• Mergers & acquisitions
• Cartel and other anticompetitive conduct between competitors
• ACCC investigations
• Compliance programs and training
Constitutional Law Definition
Construction/Infrastructure Law Definition
Construction and Infrastructure Law in Australia is the specialist practice area servicing all aspects of the Construction industry and construction projects from inception to completion. It encapsulates all the legal issues which arise during the tender, construction, delivery, and operation and maintenance phases of construction and infrastructure projects such as:
• residential and mixed use developments;
• commercial and industrial developments;
• essential hard infrastructure assets such as transport, water and energy facilities; and
• essential soft or social infrastructure assets such as schools, hospitals etc.
Practitioners in this area assist clients at all stages of a project’s life cycle from inception through to commission, subsequent regulatory compliance, and litigation. This includes:
• advice in relation to initial concept design documentation;
• guidance in relation to construction tender documentation;
• drafting construction contracts, consultancy agreements, supply agreements, operation and maintenance agreements, and advising on same (to name but a few);
• advising in relation to Security of Payment legislation; and
• representing clients in construction disputes and litigation, whether that be court litigation, arbitration, or expert determination.
Large scale projects may require the practitioner to provide advice in relation to strategy and structuring, project management, joint ventures, land use, and local planning or zoning issues. Construction and Infrastructure practitioners frequently act for large institutional investors, individual land owners, commercial developers, building contractors, government departments, and infrastructure services entities.
As the Security of Payment framework is highly regulated in all Australian jurisdictions, Construction and Infrastructure lawyers must have a sound knowledge of the area given the particularly severe consequences for clients of non-compliance with the relevant statute. This usually entails advising clients in relation to:
• the proper form and timing for payment claims;
• responding to payment claims;
• drafting Adjudication applications and responding to such applications;
• enforcement of adjudicator’s determinations (recovering payment) and appeals from same.
In addition to their core practice areas, construction and infrastructure lawyers are also regularly called upon to advise in relation to complementary areas of practice. Given Australia’s recent period of sustained investment in residential construction, their practice often crosses into other areas such as planning and environment law, property law, and finance/foreign investment law.
Corporate Law Definition
In Australia, the practice area denoted by the expression "Corporate Law" is very broad. It is typically understood to encompass the following specific practice areas:
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Equity Capital Markets
- Private Equity
- Corporate Governance
These areas often intersect, however. For example, a client may need to raise capital as a prelude to an acquisition, with the capital raising and the acquisition raising various corporate governance issues.
Similarly, a private equity fund may acquire a controlling shareholding in a listed company and seek representation on the Board of Directors, which in turn raises corporate governance issues. Alternatively, a private equity fund may wish to exit its investment in an entity by undertaking a dual track IPO and trade sale process.
It is common for Australian corporate lawyers to have expertise and experience across most of these areas, although specialisation in one or two areas is also becoming more common given the increasing complexity and sophistication of transactions.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Australian lawyers practising in this area represent entities that wish to merge with or acquire the shares or assets of another entity in the same industry sector (to increase the acquirer's industry scale), a complementary industry sector (to achieve, for example, vertical integration with the acquirer's other operations), or an entirely new industry sector (to achieve earnings diversity). Lawyers practising in this area also may represent entities that are the subject of a merger proposal or a sale/acquisition proposal. In other words, Australian M&A lawyers typically act on either the buy-side or the sell-side of these transactions.
Equity Capital Markets
Australian lawyers practising in this area represent entities that issue securities to raise capital, security holders seeking to sell their securities, or banks and investment banks that underwrite and sell such securities.
Private equity lawyers are involved in establishing private equity funds (usually in the form of corporations, limited partnerships, and trusts) and structuring private equity transactions. Private equity funds include:
- leveraged buy-out funds;
- venture capital funds;
- hedge funds;
- real estate investment funds; and
- infrastructure investment funds.
Private equity lawyers work closely with specialist lawyers in areas such as M&A, Equity Capital Markets, Banking and Finance, and Tax to ensure all relevant legal aspects of private equity transactions are covered. This often involves coordinating foreign law advice.
Corporate governance is the system by which companies are directed and managed, including the division of decision-making responsibility between a company's shareholders, its Board of Directors, and executive management. Corporate governance seeks to promote transparency and accountability in the management of companies, in turn contributing to investor protection and confidence in publicly listed companies.
Corporate/Governance Practice Definition
Corporate governance is the system by which business organisations are governed, encompassing the rules, relationships, policies, systems, and checks and balances by which businesses are managed. Corporate governance is a broad practice area extending to all aspects of the relationship between the enterprise and its directors, officers, shareholders, creditors, regulators, and other stakeholders. Robust corporate governance is critical to the integrity and efficient administration of an organisation.
It involves all aspects of the life cycle of a business enterprise, from its incorporation to its dissolution and everything in between. Accordingly, corporate lawyers must be highly adaptive and be able to provide decisive legal advice in a broad range of circumstances to a broad range of officeholders, including the board, board committees, individual directors, executive officers, and to key management.
Corporate lawyers must be intimately familiar with an enterprise’s constituent documents (such as its constitution and shareholders’ agreement), the fiduciary duties of officeholders, and have a strong understanding of the regulatory framework in which business organisations operate. In relation to a company, being the most typical structure, this means an in-depth understanding of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and associated regulatory policies.
Whether an organisation (typically a company) is publicly listed or privately held also will dictate the scope of a corporate lawyer’s required knowledge. A corporate lawyer advising a publicly listed entity must also be experienced in ASX Listing Rules and the added complexity and scrutiny that come with being publicly listed.
Corporate law extends well beyond only legal matters. An effective corporate lawyer will be expected to provide strategic commercial advice that is decisive and unambiguous and is delivered on time and budget and without getting in the way of their clients’ operations.
Criminal Defence Definition
Customs and Excise Law
Customs and Excise Law Definition
Debt Capital Markets Law
Debt Capital Markets Law Definition
Defamation and Media Law
Defamation and Media Law Definition
Distressed Investing & Debt Trading
Distressed Investing & Debt Trading Definition
DUI/DWI Defense Definition
These practice areas are open for nominations but are not yet included in our publications.
Click here to download a PDF of all Practice Areas. Click here to download a PDF of all Ones to Watch Practice Areas.