Slater and Gordon and global litigation funder Omni Bridgeway (OBL) have issued proceedings against Vocation Limited (in liquidation) (Vocation), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and certain of Vocation’s directors and officers, namely Mark Hutchinson, John Dawkins and Manvinder Gréwal (collectively, the Respondents), in the Federal Court of Australia on behalf of persons that acquired Vocation securities between 27 November 2013 and 4 December 2014 (inclusive) (the Claim Period).
The Vocation Class Action, is brought on behalf of the Applicant, Ms Cheryl Whittenbury, on her own behalf and on behalf of all persons who acquired shares in former education and training provider Vocation Limited between 27 November 2013 and 4 December 2014.
Update on proceeding
On 30 November 2021, the parties to the class action announced that they had reached an agreement to settle the Vocation Class Action. Under the agreement, the Respondents and Cross-Respondents will pay a total of $50 million, inclusive of interest and costs, to settle the claims of group members in the Vocation Class Action. This agreement was subject to approval by the Federal Court of Australia.
We are pleased to advise that, following evidence prepared and filed by the Applicant in support of the application for approval of the settlement, his Honour Justice Anastassiou of the Federal Court of Australia made orders on 23 July 2021 approving the settlement of the proceeding, having found that the settlement is fair and reasonable and in the interests of Group Members as a whole, and having regard to the claims made on behalf of Group Members who will be bound by the settlement. A copy of the judgment and the orders is available for download on this website (see “Documents” below).
Accordingly, the settlement sum will henceforth be distributed in accordance with the Settlement Distribution Scheme.
Slater and Gordon and Maurice Blackburn have been appointed jointly as Administrators of the Settlement Distribution Scheme.
Group Members who registered their claims in the Vocation Class Action will be contacted in due course to provide details to facilitate the distribution of their entitlements.
What is the Vocation Class Action about?
The Applicant alleges that, among other things, Vocation made misleading or deceptive statements in, and omitted information that was required to be disclosed in, its prospectus, contravened the continuous disclosure requirements of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), or otherwise made statements that were misleading or deceptive, thereby causing loss to persons who acquired an interest in ordinary shares in Vocation shares during the period 27 November 2013 and 4 December 2014 (inclusive). The Applicant further alleges that PricewaterhouseCoopers (the Second Respondent) is liable to class members for loss caused by making certain statements while retained to carry out an audit of Vocation Limited’s FY2014 financial report. Finally, the Applicant also alleges certain of Vocation’s former directors and officers, namely Mark Hutchinson, John Dawkins and Manvinder Gréwal engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
The allegations made by the Applicant in the class action are set out in full in the Second Further Amended Statement of claim filed in the Federal Court (which can be obtained at the link under Key Documents below).
The Respondents have each denied or not admitted the allegations made against them and defended the action.
The trial of the proceeding had been scheduled to commence in March 2021.
Are you a class member?
The Vocation Class Action is brought by the Applicant, on her own behalf and on behalf of all persons who:
- Acquired an interest in fully paid ordinary shares in Vocation Limited during the period between 27 November 2013 and 4 December 2014 (inclusive);
- Suffered loss or damage by reason of the conduct of the Respondents, as alleged in the Applicant’s statement of claim;
- Are not any of the following:
- A related party of Vocation Limited;
- A related body corporate of Vocation Limited;
- An associated entity of Vocation Limited;
- A director, an officer or a close associate of Vocation Limited;
- John William Cruse Webster (as Trustee for the Elcar Pty Ltd Super Fund Trust) being the Plaintiff in proceedings VID 228/2017 against Vocation in the Federal Court of Australia; and
- did not opt-out of the proceeding before 4 March 2019.
- Second Further Amended Consolidated Originating Applicant
- Second Further Amended Consolidated Statement of Claim
- Opt out and Claim Registration Notice
- Abridged Notice
- Orders of Justice Middleton dated 7 December 2018
- First Respondent's Further Amended Defence
- Second Respondent's Further Amended Defence
- Third Respondent's Defence
- Fourth Respondent's Defence
- Fifth Respondent's Defence
- Statement of First Cross-claim - Vocation Limited
- Statement of Second Cross-claim - PricewaterhouseCoopers
- Defence to Second Cross-claim - Johnson Winter & Slattery
- Amended Statement of Third Cross-claim - PricewaterhouseCoopers
- Defence of Third Cross-claim - Mark Hutchinson
- Defence of Third Cross-claim - Manvinder Gréwal
- Defence of Third Cross-claim - John Dawkins
- Defence of Third Cross-claim - Stephen Tucker
- Defence of Third Cross-claim - Michelle Tredenick
- Defence of Third Cross-claim - Douglas Halley
- Defence of Third Cross-claim - Vocation Limited
- Statement of Fourth Cross-claim - John Dawkins
- Statement of Fifth Cross-claim - Johnson Winter & Slattery
- Statement of Sixth Cross-claim - Mark Hutchinson
- Statement of Seventh Cross-claim - Manvinder Gréwal
- Judgment of Justice Anastassiou dated 23 July 2021
- Orders of Justice Anastassiou dated 23 July 2021