Michelle Fox is a founding partner of the Quinn Emanuel Australia offices. Michelle has practiced in the US, the UK, and Australia and is qualified in all three jurisdictions. Michelle represents some of Australia's leading companies in a broad range of strategically important, complex commercial litigation matters, including mass torts, class actions, product liability, regulatory investigations (including white collar crime), directors' liability and financial services.
Michelle has acted as a solicitor advocate before the Supreme Court of New South Wales, the High Court in England and as an advocate before the State and Federal Courts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, US. Her experience means she is highly sought after by leading companies to advise on their corporate and liability exposures.
Michelle’s current cases include Webb v GetSwift, ASIC v GetSwift and Richmond Valley Council v JLT. Michelle also acted in BrisConnection v Arup (reputed to be the largest matter then before the Federal Court of Australia) and the Citizenship 7 (described by many commentators as the most important case to reach the High Court of Australia in the last 25 years).
Michelle has significant experience in alternative dispute resolution, including substantial multi-party arbitrations and mediations. Michelle teaches courses in negotiation and has been a guest lecturer at Stanford University on mass torts and complex litigation since 2011.
In addition to complex dispute resolution, Michelle has a wealth of experience and is highly rated in contentious and non-contentious insurance and reinsurance, acting for both corporate insureds, and select insurers and reinsurers.
Michelle was awarded ‘Best Lawyer International’ awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018 for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Class Action Litigation, Insurance Law, Litigation and Product Liability Litigation. She was ranked by Chambers Asia Pacific for both dispute resolution and insurance in 2015 to 2019, and has been praised for her strength in the “technical work” as well as her “incredibly strong knowledge of the industry.” (Chambers Asia Pacific 2017). Michelle was recognised by Legal 500 Asia Pacific as a leading individual in Insurance and Dispute Resolution for 2012, 2014-2019. She has also been ranked by Who’s Who Legal as an Expert Litigation Lawyer in 2014 to 2017. Michelle was described as “a great strategist who can think beyond just pure legal interpretation” in (Chambers Asia-Pacific 2016) and in Chambers Global 2018 it was said “She's nearly always the smartest person in the room, has an excellent ability to cut through the legal clutter and is a lawyer you would rather not have on the other side of the table”. In 2019, Michelle was included in Doyle's Guide as a “Leading Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution Lawyer Rankings - New South Wales.”
- BrisConnection v Arup – Led the defense of Arup Pty Ltd in proceedings brought by the receivers of the Airport Link toll road in Brisbane, with a reported loss of $2.8 billion. The case was described as the largest matter then before the Federal Court of Australia and was successfully settled prior to the conclusion of the trial.
- “Citizenship7” – Parliamentary references to the High Court of Australia – with Michael Mills, achieved a complete victory in a landmark judgment representing Mr Tony Windsor as the contradictor to Mr Joyce in this matter. After an expedited hearing, the High Court ruled in a unanimous judgment that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (along with 4 other referred Members) were ineligible to sit in Parliament due to dual citizenship. The Court adopted all of Mr Windsor’s submissions regarding the proper interpretation of section 44(i) of the Constitution.
- Assured Guaranty – with Michael Mills, successfully prosecuted Assured Guaranty’s interests in the contested $1.9 billion refinancing of Reliance Rail Pty Ltd in the Supreme Court of NSW.
- NuCoal Ltd – Following the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings throughout 2013, in January 2014 the NSW Government passed the Mining Amendment (Operations Jasper and Acicia) Act; thereby expropriating NuCoal’s licence and its ability to access its coal reserves valued at $500 million. NuCoal thereafter instructed Quinn Emanuel to assume its legal representation. As widely reported in the press, we instituted a judicial review and constitutional challenge in the High Court of Australia; and pursued a claim under the Australia – US Free Trade Agreement. There is now legislation pending before the New South Wales parliament to permit an arbitration to occur.
- Directors & Officers – Advising and representing the Non-Executive Directors following the collapse of this ABC Learning Centres, including the regulatory investigations of ASIC, liquidators examinations and defending a $500 million claim for alleged misleading and deceptive conduct and breach of disclosure obligations under Corporations Act 2001. No director nor officer we represented was prosecuted, nor found civilly liable post the Liquidator’s examinations and other litigation.
- Lend Lease – Acted for Bovis Lend Lease’s in its successful defence of the World Trade Centre clean-up litigation, where over 18,000 plaintiffs sued the City of New York, our client and others in relation to the WTC clean-up operations. As its peak, the litigation was reported to be one of the largest mass tort actions in the United States. Michelle played a key role in driving a resolution strategy which saw all claims resolved with no settlement contribution from our client and historic legislation becoming law in the US, which effectively limited Bovis Lend Lease’s and other contractors exposure to available insurance.
- GetSwift – Leading the defense of software technology company, GetSwift Limited. GetSwift is alleged to have engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, and breached their continuous disclosure obligations, as a result of certain announcements made by the company to the Australian Securities Exchange. At one time, GetSwift was facing three shareholder class actions arising out of the same facts and circumstances before the Federal Court of Australia. After a disputed carriage motion and a substantial win for GetSwift (at first instance and on appeal before the Federal Court), the company is now facing only one class action (as well as defending similar proceedings brought by ASIC).
- Slater & Gordon (Pitcher Partners) – Shareholder Class Action – Act for Slater & Gordon’s former auditors, Pitcher Partners. Slater & Gordon (SGH) was the first law firm to list on the ASX. Over the course of 2016 and 2017, SGH nearly collapsed and its shareholders brought a representative proceeding against Pitcher Partners, in relation to alleged representations made in approving SGH’s financial statements. At this time, Pitcher Partners’ insurers had not granted indemnity. A resolution strategy was formulated, as well as a defence and cross-claim which circumvented a scheme of arrangement put in place for the benefit of SGH. This, and discussions with SGH, resulted in the claim being dramatically reduced and our client’s insurers granting indemnity and assuming the defence.
- Thorn (trading as Radio Rentals) – Acting as their Strategic Counsel in defence of a consumer class action estimated to be worth over $100 million – where we represented Thorn and successfully resolved the litigation at mediation.
- Acting (and acted) for a number of prominent directors and officers facing regulatory investigation by ASIC (and others). To date none of our clients have been the subject of charges as a result of these investigations, let alone successful prosecution.
Michelle is handling a number of other high profile matters, but as our role is not a matter of public record, we do not mention them there.
- Lender Liability & Other Banking Financial Institution Litigation
- Class Action Litigation
- Insurance Recovery
- Insurance & Reinsurance Litigation
- Product Liability & Mass Torts Litigation
- Investigations, Government Enforcement & White Collar Criminal Defense Practice
- Crisis Law & Strategy Group
- Shareholder Activism
- International Arbitration
- Boston College
(J.D., magna cum laude, 1996)
- University of California (Santa Barbara)
(B.A., cum laude, Business Economics, 1993)
- Admitted to the Federal Courts of Australia, Supreme Court of New South Wales
- Member, The Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Qualified Solicitor Advocate in England and Wales
- Herbert Smith Freehills, Sydney
- Baker & McKenzie, London
- Clyde & Co, London
- Morrison Mahoney & Miller, Boston Massachusetts
- Recognized by Euromoney’s Women in Business Law for Litigation, 2022
- Recognized by Best Lawyers in Australia 2020-2022 for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Class Action Litigation, Insurance Law, Litigation, and Product Liability Litigation
- Recognized by Doyle's Guide 2018 and 2019 as a “Leading Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution Lawyer Rankings - New South Wales”
- Recognized by Legal 500 Asia Pacific for Insurance for 2012, 2014 - 2019
- Recognised by Who’s Who Legal in Commercial Litigation for 2014-2016
- Recognised by Who’s Who Legal in Insurance for 2017
- “Best Lawyer International” in Litigation for 2011-2016
- “Best Lawyer International” in Insurance for 2010-2016
- “Best Lawyer International” in both Alternative Dispute Resolution and Class Action Litigation for 2015 and 2016
- “Best Lawyer International” in Product Liability Litigation in 2016
- Ranked in Band 2 for Insurance Individuals by Chambers Global
- Ranked in Band 4 for Dispute Resolution Individuals by Chambers Global in 2016-2018
- Identified by PLC Which Lawyer? 2010, for Insurance – Contentious
- Recognised by Expert Guides in Insurance and Reinsurance for 2015 and 2017
- Guest Lecturer, Stanford Law School, 2011-2014, 2016 and 2018
- Member, The Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel
- Member, American Bar Association