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Expertise

Lachlan is a Partner in our Construction and Infrastructure Group. An experienced construction and commercial litigator, he has regularly acted for owners corporations, private owners, government departments, Victorian municipal councils, building professionals, water authorities and insurers in building defect matters. He is a leading Victorian expert on matters relating to combustible cladding, regularly advising, and presenting internally and externally on the topic. 

Lachlan’s broader litigation experience includes bringing and defending property damage, negligence, contractual and statutory claims, in which he regularly achieves excellent negotiated and litigated outcomes for his clients. Lachlan is experienced in large-scale litigation, arbitration and class action proceedings having managed multiple discovery and evidentiary teams in disputes for a national energy infrastructure owner, a large Western Australian LNG joint venture, an Australian airline, and on behalf of a municipal defendant to a bushfire class action. He is an early adapter of technology and confident in his use of ‘Technology Assisted Review’ in matters requiring substantial document management.

He understands the motivations of owners, builders and government in relation to combustible cladding and building defect claims, having acted for all such parties. Having formerly acted for insurers of design consultants, he also understands what drives the insurer and the insured, having regularly defended architects, fire engineers and building surveyors in building defect and statutory claims under the Building Act, Domestic Building Contracts Act, Water Act and Australian Consumer Law. 

Lachlan’s dedicated and considered approach to client service ensures that he can resolve his clients’ problems with the consideration of all legal, commercial and stakeholder issues. 

Experience

Lachlan’s experience includes:

Cladding and building defect litigation

  • currently acting for an owners corporation and approximately 20 lot owners in a $12M dispute in VCAT involving combustible cladding, water ingress, roofing defects and general building defects.  The matter is a complex dispute with 15 respondents and joined parties, that has run for a record 58 days of hearing in VCAT’s Building and Property List
  • currently acting for five owners corporations in relation to an approximately 130-lot multi-storey apartment complex in Richmond, affected by building defects including combustible cladding.  The now-settled VCAT dispute involved multiple parties, leading fire safety experts, a builder that placed itself into administration, regular media exposure, responding to a building notice issued by the council, an application to the BAB, ongoing discussions with CSV, and OC management issues
  • currently advising a commercial client operating a hotel in a multi-storey residential building in the CBD affected by combustible cladding.  The dispute involve multiple parties in VCAT and the County Court, leading fire safety experts and a response to a building order issued by the council
  • currently acting for a private College in regional Victoria in County Court proceedings in relation to the presence of combustible cladding on a large multi-purpose building
  • currently advising the owners corporation for a multi-storey approximately 110 lot apartment complex in Carlton, affected by building defects including spontaneous glass breakages
  • currently advising a Victorian government department in relation to the investigation and removal of combustible cladding and identification of water ingress defects for a government-owned building in Parkville
  • providing dispute resolution advice to a large commercial builder in relation to an ACP product affixed to an academic building in Melbourne
  • providing dispute resolution advice to the owners corporation for low-rise approximately 40-lot apartment complex affected by building defects in Hawthorn, including advising on contractor insolvency.

Large scale litigation and arbitration

  • on behalf of an international JV head contractor in dispute with its principal, in arbitration relating to construction of an Australian LNG plant
  • on behalf of the owner and operator of an Australian electricity interconnector regarding its construction, commissioning and operation, with damages claims in the hundreds of millions
  • defending a Victorian Supreme Court bushfire class action on behalf of Hume City Council, with estimated damages of $50M
  • defending Virgin Australia Airlines in an approximately $30M Supreme Court dispute with its former aircraft maintenance provider John Holland Aviation Services
  • defending warranty and indemnity insurers in a $500M claim by Asahi Holdings in the Federal Court of Australia, arising from alleged misleading or deceptive conduct by the vendors of a large Australian/NZ based food and beverage company
  • on behalf of large national aged and health care franchisor, Just Better Care Australia, bringing proceedings against former franchisees for breach of contractual restraints.

Broader dispute resolution and litigation

  • acting for insurers appointed on behalf of architects, draftspersons, building surveyors and engineers defending building defects disputes in negligence, contractual and ACL claims in all Victorian jurisdictions
  • acting for local councils and water authorities in property damage, building defect, negligence and Water Act claims
  • advising DHHS during the delivery of housing construction projects, and in relation to contractual cost-sharing arrangements and general property disputes
  • advising principal and building contractors during project delivery, including bringing and defending highly technical and time-compressed ‘security of payment’ claims, and advising on variation claims, extension of time claims and contractor insolvency.

Publications

27 January 2021 - Knowledge

Ban this bad batch – high-risk cladding products now prohibited in Victoria

#Construction, Infrastructure & Projects

From 1 February 2021, the use of aluminium composite panels and expanded polystyrene products will be banned in certain building works in Victoria.