Peter Willis appears and advises in a wide range of corporate and commercial and public law matters, especially in the Supreme and Federal Courts. He also appears before the High Court and in VCAT and Planning Panels Victoria. His experience focuses on commercial law and equity, especially in financial services and resources, as well as public law (constitutional and administrative law, planning and environment law, international law and native title) for Government and private clients.
He is Editor of the Victorian Reports, Chair of CommBar's Equity Section and Chair of the Bar's Human Rights Committee.
He has served as a director and compliance committee member of an Australian financial services licensee and as chairman of the Disciplinary Appeals Board of the Victorian Education department. He is an Executive Committee member of the International Law Association Victorian chapter and Australian representative on the ILA's International Securities Regulation Committee of experts and a Senior Adviser to Transparency International Australia.
Prior to coming to the Bar, Peter was a parter of Mallesons Stephen Jaques and acted in corporations and securities, commercial, banking and finance and resources transactions in Melbourne and London. He also served as Ministerial Adviser to two Federal Attorneys-General.
Leading cases include:
Banking and Finance
Gresham Property Investments Ltd v Global Consulting Services Pty Ltd  NSWSC 141 - Guarantees - Rights of contribution among co-guarantors - Benefit of guarantee. [Successful on appeal:  NSWCA 255.]
Burge v Commonwealth Bank of Australia  HCATrans 224 - Loan - Mortgagee in possession - Determination of Finanical Ombudsman Service Ltd - Application for injunction against mortgagee sale.
Argot (ACN 074 97 109 Pty Ltd) v The National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd (2013) 97 ACSR 63;  VSCA 241 - Life Insurance - Unit linked investment policy - Arbitrage - Contractual construction - Repudiation - Valuation of policy - Administration of switching between portfolios - Good faith. Affirming ACN v NMLA  VSC 519; varying ACN v NMLA  VSC 177. Special leave to appeal successfully resisted:  HCASL 172.
Commercial Law and insolvency
Jafari v 23 Developments Pty Ltd  VSCA 201;  VSC 404 - Joint venture - Property development - Equity - Vendor's lien - Interest on lien.
Jafari v 23 Developments Pty Ltd (2019) 58 VR 288;  VSC 333 - Practice and procedure - Execution of judgment - Garnishee application - Whether garnishable debt existed.
Jafari v Alderuccio  VSCA 184R [not public] - Receivers appointed by Court - Principles.
Stewart v Atco Controls Pty Ltd (2014) 252 CLR 307;  HCA 15 - Equity - Insolvency - Liquidators, receivers and administrators - Equitable lien for costs, expenses and remuneration incurred in getting in, preserving and realising asset of company for benefit of creditors - Lien has priority over mortgagor's security - Lien not disapplied by conduct of liquidator in failed attempt to set aside security - Lien not affected by s 564 of Corporations Act - Re Universal Distributing Co principle explained. Reversing Atco Controls Pty Ltd v Stewart (2013) 31 ACLC 13-065;  VSCA 132. Affirming Re Newtronics Pty Ltd (2011) 29 ACLC 11-054;  VSC 349.
Newtronics Pty Ltd v Atco Controls Pty Ltd (2008) 69 ACSR 317 (trial); (2009) 25 VR 411, (2009) 78 ACSR 375 (CA);  HCATrans 109 (HCASL) - Letters of comfort - Letters from parent company not to enforce security and to provide financial support to subsidiary - Whether promissory or merely representational - Whether circumstances surrounding the letters were sufficient to create legal obligations; Receivers - Whether validly appointed - Reasonable belief of valid appointment - Whether receivers relieved from liability on basis that conduct was honest and ought fairly be relieved - ss 419(3) and 1318 Corporations Act.
We Two Pty Ltd v Shorrock (No 2) (2005) 220 ALR 749 - Private international law - Foreign judgment in breach of compromise - When party should be ordered to vacate judgment - Discretionary factors; compromise of action - Accord and satisfaction - Enforcement of terms of settlement - Summary procedure.
Corporations and Securities
Re Jervois Mining Ltd (2016) 117 ACSR 205;  NSWSC 1650 - Listed company - Removal of directors - Contravention of Corporations Act notice provisions for convening general meeting of members - Corporations Act ss 203D, 249F, 249N, 249O, 250BD, 1322.
Kinarra Pty Ltd v On Q Group Ltd (2008) 65 ACSR 438; (2008) 26 ACLC 182 - Listed company - Financial assistance for purchase of shares in contravention of s 260A of Corporations Act.
Australian Securities & Investments Commission v GDK Financial Solutions Pty Ltd  FCA 1415 - Managed investment schemes - Unregistered scheme - Court ordered winding up - Effect of "winding up" - Procedure for winding up - Receiver appointed - Powers of receiver - Whether powers should be the same as those of a company liquidator.
Paint Horse Association of Australia Ltd v Holobradek  VSC 411- Companies - Directors - Application for interlocutory injunction to restrain defendant from representing herself as being director of plaintiff - Alleged irregularities in calling of meeting at which existing directors were voted out of office and replaced by other directors including defendant.
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission v BMW Australia Ltd  FCA 727; (No. 2)  FCA 864;  FCAFC 167 - Trade Practices - Consumer protection - s 61C of the Trade Practices Act 1974 - Compliance with prescribed product safety standard - Wording of warning to be placed on vehicle jacks - Whether warning is dangerous - Meaning of "words to the same effect" - Compliance program - Whether appropriate relief.
George v Kollias  VSC 46 - Trusts - Trustee Act 1958, s 63A - Multifamily, multi-generation discretionary trust - Application for approval of variation arrangement - Consented to by all beneficiaries of full age and capacity - Whether for benefit of minors and persons unborn - Whether to be approved.
Constitutional and Administrative Law
Love v Commonwealth; Thoms v Commonwealth  HCA 3 - Constitutional law - Aliens power (s 51(19)) - Whether Aboriginal persons born overseas (non-citizens) are within concept of 'aliens' and liable to deportation. (For Attorney-General for Victoria).
Northern Land Council v Quall  FCAFC 77, reversing  FCA 989 - Administrative law - Delegation of statutory powers - Certification of indigenous land use agreement.
Briggs v Aboriginal Heritage Council  VSC 25 - Administrative law - Natural justice - Certification of registered Aboriginal party under Aboriginal Heritage Act - Whether objector had right of reply.
Bright v Northern Land Council  FCA 752 – Administrative law – Administrative review of certification of land use agreement – Functions under Native Title Act of representative body.
Burge v Commonwealth Bank of Australia  HCATrans 224 - Application for constitutional writs - Original jurisidiction of High Court - Constitution s 75.
Victoria v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (2013) 218 FCR 172;  FCAFC 160 - Constitutional law - States - Power of the Executive of the State to adopt policies and guidelines for contracting and awarding tenders for public works - Victorian Code of Practice for Building and Construction Industry and Implementation Guidelines - Relationship with federal Fair Work Act 2009. Reversing CFMEU v Victoria  FCA 445; CFMEU v McCorkell  FCA 446; and CFMEU v Victoria  FCA 1034. Special leave to appeal to High Court successfully resisted:  HCA Trans 173.
Mark Lane Jangala v Commonwealth and Northern Land Council and others  FCA - Administrative Law - Aboriginal Land Rights - Nomination of land by Land Council for purposes of radioactive waste management facility - Identification of traditional Aboriginal owners - Consultation with traditional owners - What is required - Whether right people were consulted - Good faith and proper purpose - Conflict of interests - Effect of statutory "no validity" clause.
Griffiths v Northern Territory  FCA 256 - Native Title - Compensation for extinguishment - Preliminary questions - Vacant Crown Land covered by claimant applications - Effect of Crown to Crown grants - s 47B, Native Title Act 1993.
Mullett on behalf of the Gunai/Kurnai People v Victoria  FCA 1514;  FCA 1144 - Native title consent determination for Gippsland.
Edwards on behalf of the Wamba Wamba, Barapa Barapa, Wadi Wadi People v State of Victoria  FCA 744 - Native Title - Change of government policy - Victorian Native Title Settlement Framework - Concerns about delay.
Rose on behalf of the Kurnai Clans v Victoria  FCA 460 - Native Title - Overlapping claims - Issue of group composition - Whether application as currently defined includes all persons who hold native title.
Lovett on behalf of the Gunditjmara People v Victoria  FCA 474 - Native title consent determination for western Victoria - Principles to be applied by Court in making consent determination.
Yorta Yorta v Victoria (2002) 214 CLR 422 - Native title - Requirement of continuity of claimant's society as underpinning for traditional laws and customs.
Planning and environment
Casey C219 (PSA)  PPV 2.
Iluka Resources Ltd v Horsham Rural CC  VCAT 107.
AGL Loy Yang Pty Ltd v Department Head, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Red Dot)  VCAT 1249.
Major Hazard Facilities Advisory Committee  PPV 86.
Caramar Holdings Pty Ltd v Banyule CC  VCAT 1733;  VCAT 450.
Day v Hobsons Bay CC  VCAT 435.
Newport Properties Vic Pty Ltd v Hobsons Bay CC  VCAT 240.
NP Development Pty Ltd v Hobsons Bay CC (Red Dot)  VCAT 861 and associated cases: NP Development Pty Ltd v Hobsons Bay CC  VCAT 1044; Nelson Place Village Pty Ltd v Hobsons Bay CC  VCAT 7.
Port Phillip Woollen Mills Advisory Committee  PPV 53.
Ports and Environs Controls Advisory Committee  PPV 115.