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HFW Continues Australia Growth With Melbourne Construction Partner Hire

1 December 2021

Global, sector-focused law firm HFW has continued the growth of its Australian construction practice with the hire of Michael Debney.

Michael advises contractors, financiers and owners on all aspects of project development and implementation, and joins HFW’s Melbourne office from Herbert Smith Freehills. He previously spent more than a decade in industry in senior legal and commercial roles, in Australia, England and the Middle East.

Michael’s hire follows HFW’s recruitment in Sydney of construction disputes expert Jo Delaney and a construction team led by senior partner Antony Riordan. HFW now has a global construction team of more than 70 lawyers across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

Gavin Vallely, Managing Partner of HFW Australia:

“The expansion of our construction practice is a key element of HFW’s growth strategy in Australia. Michael joins a team of more than 30 lawyers in Australia specialising in construction and projects, and we will actively pursue opportunities to further strengthen our offering to clients in this sector, as part of our ambitious plans for continued growth across our sectors and services in Australia.”

Carolyn Chudleigh, Global Head of Construction, HFW:

“Michael’s experience in both front- and back-end construction, as well as on largescale projects, is second-to-none, and his expertise and focus on major contractors is a great complement to our existing construction practice across Australia. In particular, his arrival really strengthens our front-end construction offering in Australia and Asia-Pacific, where we see a lot of demand from clients across a wide range of industries, including road, rail and port infrastructure, energy and renewable infrastructure, and general commercial construction. We are very excited to welcome Michael to HFW.”

Michael has a broad advisory and transactional construction practice, with a focus on the energy, natural resources, industrial plants, transport infrastructure, and transport operations and maintenance sectors.

He advises clients across every stage of construction projects, from project structuring to drafting and negotiating project agreements (including construction and procurement contracts, O&M arrangements and joint venture agreements), as well as advising on issues arising during project implementation.

Michael has worked on some of the world’s largest infrastructure projects, including the AUS$4 billion Sydney Trains PPP, as well as many of Australia’s most innovative projects, such as the development of AGL’s grid forming battery storage system and TasNetworks’ AUS$3.5 billion Marinus Link subsea interconnector.

He previously held a senior in-house role with the Downer Group in Australia, and also has extensive experience of construction disputes.

Michael Debney, Partner, HFW:

“HFW’s globally-recognised construction industry expertise is perfectly aligned with my practice and there are real opportunities for some exciting synergies. I am very excited about joining the HFW team and contributing to the growth of the practice in the region.”

HFW was one of the first international law firms in Australia, launching in the country in 2006, and now has more than 80 lawyers including 22 partners across its Melbourne, Perth and Sydney offices. The firm advises clients in Australia and across Asia-Pacific on aviation, commodities, construction, projects, employment, energy and resources, insurance, shipping, commercial litigation, corporate and finance.

HFW Australia’s revenue has increased by almost 80% over the past six years and now accounts for 10% of the firm’s total annual revenue, making it the firm’s third-largest market globally, after London and Hong Kong.

Press Contact
Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson
Head of Communications