Ben brings more than 19 years’ experience to his role as the Head of Class Actions for Slater and Gordon. Since joining the firm in 2001, Ben has worked on more than 20 class actions or group proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia and the Supreme Courts of Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.
As one of Australia’s most experienced class action lawyers, Ben is proud to lead a successful team of experts at Slater and Gordon to champion his clients’ cases. In 2019 Slater and Gordon led four of the top ten class action settlements for the year. Over an 18-month period between 2018 and 2019 the team settled five class actions totaling more than $180m in value. Importantly, over $130m of the proceeds of these cases, will end up in the pockets of class members.
Ben is focused and passionate about getting the best outcome for his clients. Ben is currently conducting or overseeing a number of class actions including:
- Get Your Super Back Campaign
- Keith Kayler-Thomson v Colonial First State Investments Limited & Anor (VID1313/2018) (Colonial First State Rates Class Action). The action alleges Colonial First State invested the retirement savings of its members with its parent bank, the CBA, where it received uncompetitive bank interest rates.
- Marcel Eugene Krieger & Anor v Colonial First State Investments Limited (VID1141/2019) (Colonial First State Fees Class Action), a class action filed on behalf of 500,000 Australians charged excessive fees to fund ongoing commissions to financial advisors.
- Dale Robert Alford & Ors v AMP Superannuation Limited & Ors (VID572/2019) (AMP Super Class Action), on behalf of more than two million Australians who have been gouged excessive fees on their AMP superannuation accounts.
- Tracy Ghee v BT Funds Management Limited & Anor (VID962/2019) (BT Super Class Action) against Westpac subsidiaries on behalf of thousands of superannuation members who were short-changed by the bank’s super funds.
- Turner v Bayer Australia Ltd & Ors (S ECI 2019 02916) (Essure Class Action), a proceeding brought on behalf of hundreds of women who were permanently injured after being implanted with the coil contraceptive device.
- Holly Southernwood & Anor V Brambles Limited (VID972/2018) (Brambles Limited Class Action), a shareholder class action alleging investors were misled and had information withheld from them, resulting in monetary loss.
- Court v Spotless Group Holdings Limited (VID561/2017) (Spotless Class Action), a Part IVA proceeding brought on behalf of shareholders in Spotless which is currently before the Federal Court;
- Whittenbury v Vocation Limited & Anor (VID434/2015) (Vocation Limited Class Action), a Part IVA proceeding brought, jointly with another law firm, on behalf of shareholders in Vocation, which is currently before the Court;
- A representative proceeding in the Western Australian Supreme Court brought on behalf of 189 plaintiffs arising from a January 2014 bushfire in Parkerville, WA. The fire started as a result of a faulty power pole on the property of a private landowner. The three defendants in the proceeding are Western Power, its maintenance contractor Theiss, and the property owner. The trial commenced on 16 July 2018 and ran for two months, and in a West Australian first, was live-streamed on the internet. In March 2019 the plaintiffs obtained a favourable ruling. This is the first group action in the modern era where a company has been found liable for failing to prevent a bushfire. The proceedings are ongoing and aspects of the ruling are subject to appeal.
Ben’s team’s class action successes include:
- Samantha Clark v National Australia Bank Limited & Anor (VID1238/2018) (NAB Consumer Credit Insurance Class Action), a proceeding brought on behalf of potentially hundreds of thousands of Australians who were sold junk credit and personal loan insurance which they would never have been able to claim against. The class action settled for $49.5 million and is currently subject to court approval.
- Endeavour River PTY LTD v MG Responsible Entity Limited & Anor (VID1010/2018) (Murray Goulburn Class Action), a class action settled for $42 million on behalf 1300 investors.
- Michael and Tracey Fisher as Trustees for the Tramik Super Fund Trust v Vocus Group Limited (VID419/2019) (Vocus Class Action), which was settled for $35 million on behalf of shareholders who lost money after information was withheld, leading to a profit downgrade, and subsequent fall in share price and is currently subject to court approval.
- McKay Super Solutions Pty Limited v Bellamy’s Australia Limited (VID 163 of 2017) (Bellamy’s Class Action), a part IVA proceeding brought on behalf of shareholders in Bellamy’s Australia and is currently subject to court approval.
- Creighton v Australian Executor Trustees Limited (2015/306222) (Provident Class Action), a representative proceeding in the SCNSW under Part 10 of the CP Act on behalf of investors in Provident Capital that settled for $28.5m, one of the top 10 class action settlements of 2018;
- Vlachos & Ors v Centro Properties Ltd & Ors (VID 366 of 2008), a Part IVA proceeding brought on behalf of shareholders in Centro Property Group or the Centro Retail Trust which was settled, together with a parallel proceeding brought by another law firm, for $200 million in 2012;
- Hadchiti v Nufarm Limited (NSD 1847 of 2010), a Part IVA proceeding brought on behalf of shareholders in Nufarm which was settled for $46.6 million in 2012;
- Earglow Pty Limited v Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (VID 933 of 2010) (Sigma Class Action), a Part IVA proceeding brought on behalf of shareholders in Sigma Pharmaceuticals, which was settled for $57.5 million in 2012;
- Modtech Engineering Pty Ltd v GPT Management Holdings Limited & Anor (VID 1408 of 2011), a Part IVA proceeding brought on behalf of shareholders in GPT which was settled for $75 million in 2013;
- Earglow Pty Limited v Newcrest Mining Ltd (VID 406 of 2014), a Part IVA proceeding brought on behalf of shareholders in Newcrest Mining which was settled for $36 million in 2016;
- Newstart 123 Pty Limited v Billabong International Ltd (VID 143 of 2015), a Part IVA proceeding brought on behalf of shareholders in Billabong which was settled for $45 million in 2016.
- Matthew John Wheelahan and Theresa Wheelahan v City of Casey & Ors (No 9776 of 2008), a Part 4A proceeding in the Supreme Court of Victoria brought on behalf of property owners who suffered economic loss as a consequence of the escape of landfill gas in the estate where they lived, which was settled for $23.5 million in 2011.
- Daniel Hall and Paul Askin v Australian Finance Direct Limited (No 2023 of 2004), a Part 4A proceeding in the Supreme Court of Victoria brought on behalf of 1,300 participants in Henry Kaye’s National Investment Institute property advice courses, which was settled for $3 million worth of debt relief and $500,000 in compensation in 2008;
- Harrison v Kerrili Pty Ltd (No. 9864 of 2005), a Part 4A proceeding in the Supreme Court of Victoria brought on behalf of retirees who alleged negligence against the law firm who provided them with advice prior to them entering into the Money for Living Scheme which was settled for a sum of approximately $6 million in 2007.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Projects
Solving disputes without having to go to court is always preferable for his clients, so Ben explores options for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) wherever possible. Ben has led a number of ADR projects where his team has represented thousands of clients in achieving negotiated settlements including the:
- Storm Financial dispute resolution schemes (CBA and ANZ) (Consumer/Financial Services)
- Open Advice Review Panel Firm (CBA)
- Client Remediation Program (Macquarie)
- Margaret River Bushfires Compensation Scheme (Property/Environmental)
Professional Qualifications and Admissions
- 2002 - Admitted, Supreme Court of Victoria
- 2001 - Bachelor of Arts, University of Melbourne
- 2001 - Bachelor of Laws, University of Melbourne
- 2001 - Present, Slater and Gordon
Memberships and Associations
- Law Institute of Victoria
- Australian Consumer Law Committee - Legal Practice, Australian Law Council
- Doyles Guide 2019 - Recommended Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Lawyer (Plaintiff) - Victoria