Areas of Law

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Commercial Litigation

Commercial litigation encompasses many different areas of law such as company law, insolvency, business structures and equity, professional negligence, negligent advice or misrepresentation, intellectual property and contractual disputes.

Cate’s experience in this broad field is significant and she has recently appeared in cases involving:

  • director and shareholder disputes.
  • post-merger or post-acquisition disputes, including allegations of pre-contractual misrepresentation, proof of loss, causation and the method of quantification of loss.
  • ASIC Federal Court regulatory proceedings.
  • priorities of mortgages and equitable interests in property.
  • proportionate liability as between defendants, in particular the division between the “misrepresentor” and the “professional advisor”.
    oppression proceedings and derivative actions.
  • breach of confidence and breach of fiduciary duty involving employees and contractors.
  • employee fraud, and the complexity of proving theft on a transaction by transaction basis.
  • disputes involving complex commercial and unit trust arrangements and resettlements.
  • disputes regarding debt-for-equity swaps and share dilution.
  • intellectual property disputes involving copyright, trademark disputes and misuse of confidential information and trade secrets.

Estates and Trusts

Cate is regularly briefed to advise and appear on complex estate disputes, including:

  • interpretation of wills and trust deeds.
  • the use of discretionary trusts in family provision cases.
  • the intersection of commercial and property issues in estates disputes, particularly where estates involve complex share or unit trust arrangements.
  • multi-jurisdiction estates.
  • matters involving rural estates and agri-accounting.
  • issues concerning resettlement (or the risk of resettlement) of trusts.
  • complex FPAs.

Financial Services Litigation

Financial Services Litigation generally involves disputes between financial planners or advisors, Australian Financial Services Licensees and clients who have lost funds as a result of entry into financial products that have performed poorly, or where there have been disputes about the appropriateness of policies of insurance, TPD stand-alone policies or superannuation policies.

Cate has recently advised on, appeared in, or mediated disputes involving the following current issues in these areas:

  • negligence and causation of loss in cases involving complex structured products, options, instalment warrants, “capital protected” products, and margin lending.
  • limitation periods, particularly in the context of longer-term structured products and agri-investments and the determination of when loss was ascertained or reasonably ascertainable.
  • grossing up for tax – post – Jamieson v Westpac “grossing up” damages calculations for tax is an issue in many financial services matters, together with the tax treatment of settlement sums versus the tax treatment of damages awarded by the court.
  • relevance of risk assessments to the issue of whether advice was negligent or in breach of contract.
  • apportionment of quantum – particularly considering attempts by defendant licensees to disentangle quantum where an advisor has been an authorised representative for two or more of them when advising plaintiffs over a number of years, where the investments have failed at various times, and the tax benefits have been utilised at various times.
  • causation of loss and, particularly, the evidential issues with the Yam Seng basis for arguing an alternative hypothetical (loss-making) transaction.


Insurance litigation, like commercial litigation, encompasses many different areas of law.  Cate has recent experience in cases concerning:

  • interpretation and application of indemnity provisions.
  • fraudulent claims.
  • explosions, fires and quantification of loss.
  • interpretation of GST provisions.
  • apportionment between insurers in different types of claims (eg., property damage, professional negligence and personal injuries).
  • TPD and group policies (including superannuation policies).

Personal Injuries

The Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) contains provisions which restrict what can be said by a legal practitioner about the practice of personal injuries law on a website (and elsewhere).  Cate would be pleased to answer telephone or email enquiries in relation to her personal injuries practice.  She does not take direct access briefs and, accordingly, welcomes such enquiries only from other legal practitioners.

Trial and Appellate Advocacy

Trials involving Fraud and Issues of Credit