Steven Palmer

Partner | Head of Intermediaries
Norton Rose Fulbright Australia

Steven Palmer

Steven Palmer


Related services and key industries


Steven is a restructuring and insolvency lawyer based in Melbourne and a member of the firm's governance body, the Australian Partnership Council.  Clients value his legal skills, commercial acumen and problem solving abilities.

His areas of expertise include corporate restructuring and insolvency as well as disputes relating to security enforcement, insolvent trading and preference claims, complex financial instruments, directors obligations and duties, oppression, trusts and equitable rights.

He advises banks and other financiers, insolvency practitioners, regulators, directors and creditors and has acted in numerous significant litigious matters (including class actions) as well as many informal restructures.

He has been regularly recognised as a leading insolvency lawyer and a leading bet-the-company litigation lawyer in leading directories including Chambers and Best Lawyers.

Professional experience

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  • Bachelor of Laws, Monash University (1993)
  • Bachelor of Economics, Monash University (1991)
  • High Court of Australia 1996
  • Supreme Court of Victoria 1996
  • Supreme Court of Western Australia 2002
  • 2022 (ongoing) – acting for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and KPMG (receivers and managers) in relation to BWX Ltd, a global cosmetics business listed on the ASX.
  • 2022 – Acted for National Australia Bank Limited as the security trustee of a syndicated debt facility ($650m+) that supports the undersea electricity HVDC cable connecting Tasmania and the Australian mainland operated by Basslink Pty Ltd (Receivers and Managers Appointed) (Administrators Appointed.  Including in litigation with the State of Tasmania, Hydro-Electric Corporation and others.
  • 2021 (ongoing) – Acting for McGrathNicol, the Receivers of Marcus Construction and ABD Construction Groups of companies.
  • 2021-2022 – Acting for BDO Australia, the Receivers and Managers of Dundas Mining Pty Ltd, Allegiance Mining Pty Ltd, Winched Investment Pty Ltd, AGG Fortune Pty Ltd and Colour Metal Pty Ltd.
  • 2020 (ongoing) – Acting for KordaMentha, the deed administrators, and formerly voluntary administrators, of 88 companies within the Grocon Group, one of Australia's largest construction groups including in the successfully defending long running claims brought by the liquidators of Hastie Ltd claiming proprietary relief in relation to bank guarantees.
  • 2020 (ongoing) – Acting for Cor Cordis, the liquidators of 11 companies in the i-Prosperity group of companies which collapsed after significant misappropriation of over $350m of investors' funds, including the prosecution of numerous tracing and recovery claims. 
  • 2019 (ongoing) – Acting for General Motors Holdings LLC in relation to its decision to exit Holden vehicle sales, engineering and design operations in the Australian and New Zealand markets and to undertake an orderly restructure of the group of Holden companies to allow them to continue to provide parts, serving and warranty support.  The matter has included a senate enquiry, an investigation by the ACCC and a number of litigious claims including a class action, which remain ongoing.
  • 2019 (ongoing) – Acting for Deloitte who were appointed as provisional liquidators to Merlin Diamonds Ltd by the Federal Court of Australia at the request of ASIC and later as liquidators.
  • 2019 (ongoing) – Acting for PwC the liquidators of The Australian Sawmilling Company Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) (TASCO) in relation to proceedings issued against them by the EPA/State of Victoria seeking to set aside the liquidators' notice disclaiming contaminated land owned by TASCO.
  • 2019 (ongoing) – Acting for KordaMentha the administrators of the large SWC Group of companies in all aspects of the administration.
  • 2019-2021 – Acted for ASIC in relation to breach of duty litigation against directors of a sporting body.
  • 2019 – Acted for KPMG the voluntary administrators appointed to Speciality Mens Apparel Pty Ltd trading as Ed Harry.  The administration ultimately delivered a full recovery to all employees and priority creditors with a substantial return to unsecured creditors.
  • 2019 – Acted for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in relation to enforcement of, and ultimate assignment of, the secured debt of the SKM Group, one of Victoria's largest recyclers with contracts with local councils in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
  • 2019 – Acted for Deloitte the administrators of Axsesstoday Limited in the administration including the sale of the Axsesstoday Fintech business, entry into a deed of company arrangement and the distribution of dividends to unsecured creditors through a creditors' trust.
  • 2018 – 2022 – Acted on behalf of ASIC in proceedings against AGM Markets Pty Ltd, OT Markets Pty Ltd and Ozifin Tech Pty Ltd in relation to unconscionable conduct in providing OTC derivatives and the insolvency of a number of the defendants.
  • 2018-2021 – Acted on behalf of the partners of Ferrier Hodgson in their merger with KPMG.
  • 2017 (ongoing) – Successfully acted for construction company, McConnell Dowell in a dispute about the demise of a sub-contractor, involving litigation funded claims (totalling approximately $170m) brought by the liquidator in respect of the Roma LNG Project including a 6 week trial in the Supreme Court of NSW in 2022.
  • 2017 – Acted for BDO Australia as Court-appointed receivers and managers of the registered MIS known as Realestate Equity Investment Trust (at the request of ASIC) in relation to advising the receivers and managers in realising the assets of the scheme, assessing the merits of the various claims made in respect of those assets and recommendations to the Court as to how the assets should be distributed and in respect of malfeasance. 
  • 2016 (ongoing) – Acting for KPMG, the receivers and managers of Dick Smith Holdings Ltd and NAB and HSBC, including in relation to a claim against the Directors for breach of duty in the NSW Supreme Court, an appeal to the NSW Court of Appeal, as well as in respect of 3 special leave applications to the High Court of Australia.
  • 2016 – 2017 – Acted for Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited in relation to the restructure of its facilities to Peabody Energy, as a result of its US Chapter 11 filing.
  • 2016 – 2017 – Acted for MAB Corporation Pty Ltd in successfully defending an appeal in the Full Federal Court in long running bankruptcy claims.
  • 2015 – Acted for National Australia Bank Limited and Deloitte (the receivers and managers) in relation to Walton Constructions.
  • 2015 (ongoing) – Acting for PPB Advisory/PwC in respect of the administration of HRL Limited and 19 of its subsidiaries, including in relation to the remediation of the Hazelwood Power Station.
  • 2015 – Acted for Deloitte in respect of the restructure and turnaround Tiwi Plantation Corporation Pty Ltd the largest indigenous organisation in the Northern Territory, Australia which won a TMA turnaround award.
  • 2014 – Acted for Ferrier Hodgson, voluntary administrators of Toman Investments and Man to Man (Imports), trading as Man to Man, a large national retail mens clothing chain with 80 stores nationally.
  • 2014 – Acted for National Australia Bank Limited and Ferrier Hodgson in relation to Gregory's Transport Pty Ltd and Transport and Asset Management Pty Ltd.
  • 2014–15 – Acted for Sedco Forex International Inc in relation to the administration of Nexus Energy Limited and advising on potential debt recovery avenues.  We advised in relation to their claim of alleged breach of contract relating to the charter of the Transocean Legend drilling rig and during the administration and DOCA process and the court proceedings which gave leave to the deed administrators to transfer all shares in Nexus as part of a restructure.
  • 2014 – 2018 – Acted for National Australia Bank Ltd in relation to the US bankruptcy of Dr Geoffrey Edelsten in Australia and the USA, including in relation to a series of recognition proceedings pursuant to the UNCITRAL model law on insolvency.
  • 2014 – Acted for Ferrier Hodgson, the receivers and managers appointed to the Wettenhalls Transport Group.
  • 2014 – Acted PPB Advisory in respect of the voluntary administration of Bevilles Pty Ltd, a retail jeweller. 
  • 2013 – Acted for the US Bankruptcy Trustee of SK Foods LLP in respect of a confiscation application made by the Australian Federal Police, and in relation to its claims in Australia.
  • 2013 – Acted for KordaMentha, the receivers and managers appointed to Forge Group Limited, the ASX-listed engineering, procurement and construction company with operations in Australia, South Africa, Asia and the US.
  • 2013-16 – Acted for Deloitte, the court appointed receivers of Black Swan, Australia's leading dip manufacturer and a profitable, solvent entity.  We assisted in the operational restructure which the directors and receivers worked on cooperatively to improve the financial performance and the ultimate trade sale.
  • 2013 – Acted for RMS, a US based private investment firm in its acquisition of 21,804.13 ha of forestry assets, roads and infrastructure that was part of the Gunns MIS scheme.  We advised on the transactional issues and FIRB issues, as well as on the court process being undertaken by the receivers and liquidators to deal with MIS interests which was a complicated but critical aspect of the transaction to ensure that clear title is given by the insolvent vendor.
  • 2011 – Acted for KordaMentha, the receivers appointed to Westgem, a special-purpose company established to construct a prominent building in Perth's CBD, Raine Square.  We worked with the receivers and the financiers to progress the completion and sale of the building and act in related legal proceedings involving claims and cross claims with director interests and with the Westgem liquidator.
  • 2011-14 – Acted for two subsidiaries of ASX listed, Elders Limited in the successfully staged divestment of the managed investment scheme forestry assets under its control.  The subsidiaries were the responsible entities for one of the of the largest forestry businesses in Australia. 
  • 2011-17 – Acted for Ferrier Hodgson, voluntary administrators and liquidators of Sonray Capital Markets, which was one of Australia's largest providers of CFDs and other complex financial instruments, where $46 million of client funds was misappropriated or lost in unauthorised trading by directors and officers. A claim against third parties was settled using ADR and court directions were obtained to streamline the process of determining rights and distributing property and dividends involving over 4000 investors asserting proprietary rights to financial instruments via tracing claims.
  • 2009 – Acted for the administrators and the liquidators of Great Southern Limited (receivers and managers appointed) (in liquidation) and 38 of its subsidiaries, with debts of approximately $1 billion.  Great Southern was Australia's largest promoter of managed investment schemes, was listed on the ASX and has almost 12,000 shareholders.  A subsidiary managed funds on behalf of more than 43,000 investors in 45 forestry and horticultural managed investment schemes.
  • 2008-9 – Acted for the receivers and managers of Opes Prime Stockbroking Limited (and its related entities).  It involved complex share lending arrangements, and arrangements with financiers.  There were a variety of interests involved in addition to litigation and disputes between numerous counterparties.  We assisted with unravelling complex financial dealings leading to significant recoveries made in Australia and overseas.  The receivers were parties to a settlement which included a novel scheme of arrangement which fully settled all claims between the liquidators, the receivers, the financiers and the Opes clients in respect of their direct and third party claims.  The scheme of arrangement was nominated for Insolvency & Restructuring Deal of the Year at the 2010 Australasian Legal Business Law Awards in May 2010.
  • Insolvency and Reconstruction Committee, Law Institute of Victoria and Law Council of Australia
  • Australian Partnership Council – Norton Rose Fulbright Australia
  • Memberships and associations
  • Australian Restructuring Insolvency Turnaround Association
  • INSOL International
  • Law Council of Australia, Business Law Section
  • IWIRC, Victorian branch
  • Law Institute of Victoria
  • Turnaround Management Association
  • English