Rebecca Bedford
Partner, Melbourne
I am a highly regarded litigation and dispute resolution specialist and have advised both public and private sector clients across a wide range of matters. I am particularly known for my expertise in large scale complex commercial disputes (including cross border, investor and shareholder disputes, and global distribution agreements). 

I am also a leading expert in Royal Commissions, public inquiries, coronial inquests and regulatory investigations – which often gives rise to significant legal, political and reputational risk and involve intense public scrutiny for clients and witnesses.

As an expert legal counsel and strategic advisor, I have led high-profile Inquiries, Royal Commissions coronial inquests and regulatory investigations. In recent years, I have acted in some of the most significant Inquiries and Royal Commissions for Commonwealth and State government departments, agencies and senior officials. I am skilled at navigating the complex issues that arise from these external reviews and managing client interests and risks within compressed timeframes. I am understand the significant pressures that are placed on clients and witnesses during the external review process.

In my private practice, my expertise encompasses a wide range of disputes, catering to both local and international clients in a number of industries including Automotive and Telecommunications, IT and Retail. I have a particular interest in global distribution agreements and rationalisation of networks. I have advised major multinational corporations on network rationalisation issues and risks. I also conduct major litigation in land acquisition compensation claims.

My expertise also extends to alternative dispute processes, including arbitration, expert determination, and mediation.

As an active member of the International Bar Association and World Law Group, I regularly speak at international events on risk and regulatory issues in Australia.

Career highlights

Royal Commissions/Inquiries/Coronial Inquests

  • COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Commission of Inquiry: Acted for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services in the 2020 Inquiry into Hotel Quarantine in Victoria. I led a large national team for the Department on all aspects of the Inquiry including evidence preparation, privilege and confidentiality issues. The scale and intensity of the inquiry (during lockdown) is unparalleled in Australia. I have subsequently acted in numerous matters relating to COVID-19 and hotel quarantine in Victoria.
  • Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability: Acting for the State of Victoria in all aspects of this royal commission since 2019 including witness preparation and appearing before the Commission.
  • Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme: Advising the Department of Social Services including witness preparation.
  • Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide: Advising Senior Officials of the Australian Defence Force including witness preparation.
  • Coronial Inquests: Including acting for the Victorian Department of Health in the Coronial Inquest into the deaths at St Basil’s aged care facility in 2020.

General Commercial

  • ITL Optronics Limited: Acted for a global defence technology manufacturer in defending a claim by its Australian distributor for alleged breaches of agreement and claims of misleading or deceptive conduct. The large scale litigation spanned across multiple jurisdictions (including Australia, Israel and England) dealing with complex questions including conflict of laws and involved anti-suit injunctions.
  • DEKRA SE: Acted for a German company in an arbitration concerning alleged misleading or deceptive conduct and breaches of warranties contained in a share sale agreement.
  • McConnell Dowell: Defended Federal Court proceedings alleging misleading or deceptive conduct and breach of warranties associated with forecasts contained in share sale agreement.
  • Acted for Chinese investors in large scale Supreme Court proceedings regarding the termination of a joint venture agreement associated with a multi-million dollar land acquisition and development and claims of misleading or deceptive conduct.
  • BMW Australia: Acted for BMW Australia in relation to aspects of its TAKATA airbag recall in Australia and ACCC investigation. Have also advised BMW Australia for over 25 years in relation to matters dealing with its dealer network and product -related issues.
  • GM Holden Limited: Acted for GM Holden Limited in relation to a 12 month investigation by the ACCC into its statutory consumer guarantee policies and practices, and a subsequent s 87B undertaking. Subsequently also appointed as independent expert to oversee compliance with the undertaking.
  • Acted for numerous OEMs in the automotive industry including GM Holden, BMW, MINI, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Subaru and Repco in relation to network and product issues including rationalisation and restructure of their distribution networks, competition and consumer law/ACL risks (including statutory consumer guarantees), regulatory investigations, Franchising Code, advertising and staff training.
  • Multinational telecommunications company: Acted for a multinational telecommunications company based in the United Kingdom in an ACMA investigation and enforcement action for contraventions of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth).

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • International Bar Association (IBA).
  • World Law Group

Awards and Recognition

  • Client Choice Awards – Litigation: 2018 - 2015
  • Recommended – Franchise Law, Best Lawyers: 2023 - 2014
  • Outstanding Contribution to Franchising Award - Franchising Council of Australia, 2012