Mellissa Lai
Partner, Canberra
I am an international trade and global investment advisor, specialising in helping clients navigate complex rules applicable to their structures and trade flows.

Based in Canberra, I bring an understanding of the regulatory and policy environment from Australia's capital to help clients achieve their commercial objectives.

I work with private sector and government clients across all sectors in high profile M&A, real estate and infrastructure projects in relation to the foreign investment rules (including FIRB clearance, Australia's foreign relations rules and foreign influence laws). I also advise large Australian and foreign clients on export controls, customs matters, trade remedies, sanctions laws, free trade agreements, government engagement, procurement rules, lobbying rules and a range of commercial and corporate matters.

Career highlights

  • I have advised on and obtained prior clearance through the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) on hundreds of Australian and offshore M&A, real estate, major projects and government transactions. Key transactions include those related to the Sydney Metro, Melbourne Metro, Inland Rail; Hometown Australia and Gateway Lifestyle Villages; S Kidman and Co and Australian Outback Beef; Endeavour Energy and Advanced Energy; Centerbridge and Speedcast; Knighthead & Certares and Hertz; AT&T and Time Warner; CBS and Viacom; UTC and Raytheon; Hitachi and Bradken; Anglo American divestments; Silicon Quantum Computing.
  • I have advised a range of clients on sensitive historical matters and assisted in ongoing compliance activities.
  • I advised on investment matters to support the UK government's negotiations for the proposed UK-Australia free trade agreement.
  • I advise clients on export controls, as well as Australia's sanctions regime, particularly in the defence sector having advised clients on programs such as the F-135 joint strike fighter and a range of other defensive systems.
  • Advising on customs and regulatory requirements for port authorities and operators.
  • Assisting a number of East Asian clients in relation to dumping allegations and advising on the application of free trade agreements.
  • I have advised clients across a range of sectors, including in the university, government relations and resources sectors on Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (Cth), the Foreign Influence Transparency Act 2018 (Cth), guidelines on foreign influence as well as federal and state lobbying and donations requirements – preparing screening processes, compliance documents and for contractual negotiations.