Tom Fletcher
Partner, Education Industry Leader, Brisbane
I lead MinterEllison's Education team. I have assisted Australia's leading universities and private tertiary education providers to achieve their objectives, whilst navigating the broad array of risks and challenges they face. I am a versatile commercial litigation and dispute resolution specialist. In addition to education clients, I regularly act for government, energy, resources and construction clients in court disputes and interactions with regulators.

I act for those clients in a broad range of binding and non-binding alternative dispute resolution processes - international arbitration, domestic arbitration, adjudication, expert determination and bespoke contractual processes. I also have deep experience in acting for clients in contentious engagements with Commonwealth and State regulators.

I previously served as the Associate to the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, then Chief Justice of Queensland.

Career highlights

Education

  • Universities – acted for multiple universities in many student disciplinary matters (both academic and general misconduct), including in subsequent challenges lodged with external bodies (including the Supreme Court, Federal Court, High Court, administrative tribunals, crime and corruption State regulators and State ombudsmen)
  • Universities – acted for multiple universities in contentious engagements with the Commonwealth regulator (TEQSA) in relation to applications for renewal of registration and compliance assessments concerning a broad range of enterprise-wide risks, including entry standards, third party provider arrangements, PRISMS reporting obligations, response to and management of allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, maintenance of academic freedom and freedom of speech, and corporate and academic governance generally
  • Universities – drafted new grievance and misconduct regulations, policies and procedures, including in relation to allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment against students, to ensure compliance with the Commonwealth regulatory regime so that administrative decisions withstand legal challenge in the State and Commonwealth courts and tribunals
  • Alphacrucis University College and the Australian College of Theology – acted in proceedings in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal successfully challenging decisions by the Commonwealth regulator (TEQSA) refusing registration in the category of university college
  • Private higher education and vocational education and training providers – acted in many internal review processes and proceedings in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in relation to cancellation of registration and accreditation (and other adverse) decisions made by the Commonwealth education regulators, TEQSA and ASQA

General

  • Anglo American – represented the company’s subsidiaries in a range of court disputes concerning the supply of coal to Callide Power Station, including in relation to the quality and quantity of coal supplied, liquidated damages claims, the application of force majeure provisions, the exercise of options to extend the contract and rights to terminate the long term supply agreements
  • A major oil and gas company – acted in relation to a confidential international arbitration in Brisbane administered by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre relating to alleged breach of a share sale agreement and misleading or deceptive conduct concerning the sale of significant gas assets
  • A major resources company – acted in relation to a confidential international arbitration in Singapore administered by the International Chamber of Commerce relating to alleged breaches of a resources supply agreement
  • Brisbane City Council – acted in relation to a series of complex IT disputes with TechnologyOne, a company contracted to supply, implement and support a cloud solution
  • Wilmar International Limited – acted for a subsidiary in the first deemed arbitration with sugar growers under the controversial amendments to the Sugar Industry Act 1999 (Qld), securing an award that the provision compelling the parties to arbitration was beyond the legislative power of the Queensland Parliament and therefore unconstitutional
  • Thiess Indonesia – acted in a major sovereign risk case, successfully defending assertions by an Indonesian principal that changes to the mining laws and regulations of Indonesia had the effect of bringing a life-of-mine services contract for an Indonesian mine to an end
  • Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal – acted in a series of disputes in adjudication, bespoke alternative dispute resolution processes and the Supreme Court of Queensland with Monadelphous and its Malaysian joint venture partner Muhibbah Engineering, one of the major contractors for the construction of the coal export terminal at Gladstone in Queensland
  • Rio Tinto – acted in relation to a dispute against Russian aluminium company RUSAL and one of its Italian subsidiaries concerning the supply of bauxite from Weipa to the Eurallumina refinery in Sardinia, Italy, and the subsidiary’s failure to take the nominated tonnage following the impacts of the global financial crisis
  • Stanwell Corporation – successfully defended Federal Court proceedings brought by the Australian Energy Regulator for alleged breaches of the good faith rebidding obligation regarding the trading of electricity in the National Electricity Market pursuant to the National Electricity Rules (the first case brought by the AER alleging contravention of the National Electricity Rules)
  • Pharmacy Guild of Australia (with the fiat of the Attorney General of NSW) – acted in regulatory proceedings brought against a subsidiary of Coles concerning the purchase of an online pharmacy business in NSW for more than $50 million, in breach of the regulatory restrictions on pharmacy ownership. obtaining orders compelling the subsidiary to divest itself of the interest
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https://www.minterellison.com/people/tom_fletcher