"Competition and consumer law can be complex and knowing the ACCC’s approach on matters is all important in an ever-changing regulatory landscape. I partner with clients to help them understand these laws so they can make smart, strategic decisions for their businesses."
Sarah has worked in the competition and consumer law space for over 20 years, advising various fast moving consumer goods companies over this time on a wide variety of legal issues. Sarah is a solutions-oriented lawyer who enjoys working with clients to provide them with practical legal advice so they can run their businesses within the limits of the law. She values building connections with people and really understanding her clients’ businesses.
Sarah advises on anti-competitive conduct and the impact of competition law on commercial activities like distribution and supply chain arrangements, exclusivity provisions, joint venture/collaboration agreements and intellectual property licensing arrangements.
Sarah also advises on merger clearances and provides related competition law structuring advice, setting up information sharing protocols to manage the flow of information between parties to minimise the risks of gun jumping prior to the close of deals. She has successfully obtained merger clearances for various large domestic transactions across a number of different consumer goods industries.
Sarah advises suppliers including retailers and online platforms on consumer law issues including misleading and deceptive conduct, consumer guarantees, unfair contract terms, advertising and marketing sign-offs and general compliance with the Australian Consumer Law. She also advises on product recalls, both working with clients to help them manage the legal issues that arise in this context and liaising with the responsible regulator.
Sarah represents clients in dealings with the ACCC including investigations and enforcement actions and her strong advocacy and solutions-based approach has led to great outcomes for clients in adversarial and cooperative contexts.
Bega Cheese — obtained merger clearance from the ACCC and provided competition law advice in relation to various transactions including its 2020 acquisition of Lion Dairy & Drinks, owners of the Dairy Farmers, Yoplait, Big M, Masters and Dare and Farmers Union iced coffee brands; its 2018 acquisition of Saputo’s Koroit processing facility; and its 2017 acquisition of various assets from Mondelez Australia including the Vegemite and Kraft peanut butter brands. These were significant projects for Bega Cheese because of their size and the complex legal and commercial issues they raised as well as the commercial importance of securing fast and uncontested merger clearance. They also involved the provision of competition law structuring advice and the setting up of information sharing protocols to manage the flow of information between the parties prior to completion.
Bega Cheese Limited/Dairy Inquiry — advised Bega Cheese in responding to a section 95ZK notice issued by the ACCC as part of the Federal Government’s enquiry into the dairy industry in Australia. This was a significant project because of the enormous amount of documentation required to be reviewed and produced to respond to the ACCC’s notice, requiring the use a mix of human and technological solutions.
The Coca-Cola Company — advised TCCC in relation to the competition law issues associated with a number of transactions including its 2018 acquisition of a 45% interest in the Made Group of Companies (owners of Cocobella, Rokeby Farms and Impressed Juice brand of products) together with its bottler, Coca-Cola Amatil.
Competition and consumer law review of customer sales agreements of funeral services client — provided competition and consumer law advice on the bundling and pricing provisions in this client’s customer sales agreements. This involved a complex assessment of markets for the supply of various goods and services, taking into account the current status quo in 2020 and potential structural reform being slated by the State Government.
Cartel conduct and resale price maintenance audit for key client — conducted comprehensive and in-depth cartel conduct and resale price maintenance audits for a key client of the firm over multiple years as part of the client’s compliance initiatives and in order to assist the client in determining the level of competition law risk exposure within their sales team. These audits involved the review of an enormous number of emails and documentation, requiring the use of a mix of human and technological solutions.
Colgate-Palmolive and Hill’s Pet Nutrition — reviewed various different types of commercial contracts for this client over the years, advising on both general contract law issues as well as consumer law and privacy issues. I also provide strategic competition law advice from time to time in relation to these clients’ various supply channels and distribution arrangements and pricing policies.
Competition law review of commercial supply arrangement for FMCG client — completed an in-depth competition law review for a key client in relation to an exclusivity restraint and its rollover in a core commercial supply agreement with a retailer. This involved an assessment of the purpose and effect of the restraint on competition in various FMCG markets which amongst other things required an analysis of market scan data and consumer behaviour data.
Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative — advised DFMC in relation to the re-authorisation of their back-to-back milk purchasing policies and pricing arrangements with DFMC farmer members and Dairy Farmers Pty Ltd/Bega, which involved liaising with and lodging a detailed submission with the ACCC’s Competition Exemptions team. This lead to a favourable outcome being achieved for DFMC, with the ACCC agreeing to grant a further authorisation of these arrangements for a period of 10 years.
Decathlon — represented Decathlon in relation to a section 155 notice issued to it by the ACCC, the subsequent ACCC investigation and then proceedings which were commenced by the ACCC against Decathlon arising out of breaches of various mandatory safety standards.
Advice on global buying consortium — advised an FMCG client on a local subsidiary’s proposed involvement in a global buying consortium. This involved a complex analysis of various legal and practical issues in order for the competition law risks associated with the proposal to be assessed.
Indigenous Business Australia — advised on a suite of commercial funding agreements with a financial institution and the Federal Government and associated competition law structuring requirements. This involved an analysis of back-to-back contractual arrangements and advising on protocols and guidelines to be followed to ensure compliance with competition law.
Merger and structuring advice for FMCG client — provided competition law advice to a key offshore FMCG client in relation to their majority investment in a local manufacturing company. This involved an in-depth analysis of our client’s Australian business and the acquisition target and then setting up protocols and guidelines to be followed locally to ensure compliance with competition law.
Reebok Australia — acted as Compliance Auditor to this client to undertake an annual review of an Australian Consumer Law Compliance Program Reebok Australia as ordered by the Federal Court of Australia arising out of proceedings brought against it by the ACCC for false and misleading advertising.
Sun Bum — advised Sun Bum in relation to the product recall of one of its sunscreen products in 2022, which involved working with the client’s US based recall team and regulatory consultant and liaising with the Therapeutic Goods Administration on all aspects of the recall. This lead to the successful closing-out of the recall within three months.
Committees and memberships
Member, Competition Law Discussion Group
Member, Law Society of NSW
Member, Law Council of Australia, Business Law Section
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws (Honours), The University of Sydney