Kathryn Howard

Partner

Qualifications: Bachelor of Commerce and Laws from the University of Melbourne (First Class Honours)

Practices

Kathryn leads the Public Sector industry group at Hall & Wilcox, and is a partner in our Commercial Dispute Resolution.

Kathryn is the editor of our quarterly publication, Public Law.

Kathryn is a senior commercial disputes specialist, having practised in Melbourne, Tokyo and London.  Her areas of expertise include commercial disputes, alternative dispute resolution, administrative law and public law.

Kathryn’s tailored approach maximises the likelihood of avoiding escalation of a dispute.  Her dispute resolution expertise is recognised internationally, with Kathryn listed in Who’s Who Legal 2017, 2018 and 2019 (Mediation).

Where an early, favorable resolution cannot be achieved, Kathryn conducts efficient and effective management of formal dispute mechanisms, always with a primary eye on her client's objectives and commercial concerns.  Kathryn is also a trusted advisor about the intersection of the citizen and the State, advising regularly on matters concerning statutory rights and obligations.

Kathryn lives on the Mornington Peninsula and is committed to supporting our regional as well as metropolitan communities.  She is a long-standing director of RUOK? and passionate about creating a society in which everyone has someone to support them.

Experience

Commercial

  • Obtaining injunctive relief to secure and recover a competitor’s theft of sensitive pricing information. Within 36 hours of receiving the instructions, we had obtained interlocutory relief that restrained use of the stolen information, secured the stolen information and obliged our client’s competitor to go on affidavit about the hacking of our client’s systems. The case was settled on favourable terms, including a permanent injunction, destruction of our client’s stolen information and full recovery of our client’s legal and management costs.
  • Defending a $100 million claim concerning a highly technical method of welding a major gas pipeline. In this case, Kathryn obtained the first-ever orders in the Supreme Court of Victoria obliging the Plaintiff to perform Technology Assisted Review. The use of Technology Assisted Review reduced the Plaintiff’s relevant documents from 1.3 million to under 100,000, and our client’s discovery costs commensurately. Our client found the ‘smoking gun’. The case settled shortly after discovery concluded.
  • Defending a $29 million claim concerning alleged breach of contract and related claims for delay. The complex claims were defended with lay and expert evidence, our client exercising its statutory and contractual rights. Our client triumphed, successfully defending every dollar claimed.
  • Defending a $50 million claim concerning the alleged wrongful termination of a contract. Our client successfully settled the claim shortly before trial, achieving a closure to the long-term relationship on favourable terms.
  • Defending alleged trade mark infringement, in which the applicant challenged our client’s right to use its trading name and logo and sought an account of profits in respect of over $100 million in international sales. Again, our client defended the allegations with lay and expert evidence, exercising its statutory rights. Our client’s trade marks and its rights were ultimately upheld against attack by its competitor.
  • Advising a corporate in relation to a dispute with its supplier of a ticketless parking system. We obtained injunctive relief preventing the supplier’s imminent shutdown of the automated number plate ticketing system. We successfully settled the dispute, allowing the client to replace its ticketless system through an alternative supplier.

Public law

  • Providing a Victorian shire council with ongoing dispute management in relation to a 10 year services contract, including advice about contractual rights and obligations, correspondence between the parties and strategies for negotiating disputed issues. Kathryn continues to protect the client’s interests from dilution.
  • Advising a regulatory authority on the obligations of councillors under empowering legislation, including for example in respect of regulatory rights and obligations, conflicts of interest, decision-making, delegations and directors’ duties.
  • Defending one of Australia’s first privacy class actions. Our client successfully defended the claim for millions of dollars in compensation.
    • Acting for a Victorian Government agency in relation to disputed claims for $25 million in compensation under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic). These disputed claims involved novel questions of law and statutory interpretation.
    • Acting for various Victorian Government departments and public authorities in respect of various complex and large acquisition claims in the Supreme Court of Victoria, pursuant to the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 (Vic). The matters involve novel claims in relation to disturbance losses, special value and alleged possessory interests.
    • Advising a Commonwealth department in relation to an ongoing dispute concerning its rights and obligations in relation to the investment of public monies in winding down reliance on dirty power. Careful dispute management protected the value of the client’s investment and preserved public monies.
    • Defending a statutory body in a mediation/arbitration concerning cost consequences flowing from a change in the law. Our strategic approach saved the client tens of millions in costs, and achieved a new agreement that salvaged the parties’ long-term, ongoing relationship.
    • Defending corporates and executives in regulatory inquiries, including the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corporation and the IBAC.
    • Advising government on Freedom of Information, including the validity (or otherwise) of the scope of a request, the assessment of exemptions, the preparation of the decision and the successful defence of appeals and complaints in respect of FOI decisions.

Latest thinking

Thinking | 11 Sep 2019

Public Law – Issue Five

In this edition of our newsletter for the public sector, you’ll find an update on a landmark High Court ruling on free speech, hear about Daniel Simms from the City of Wanneroo and meet Partner Alison Baker, among other interesting articles...