A leading construction disputes and major projects lawyer, Cris Cureton’s more than 30 years’ practice spans the construction, energy and resources, government and infrastructure sectors. He is experienced in documenting front-end project formation, advising on contract administration and in all forms of dispute resolution employed in the construction industry.

    Cris has been annually named one of Australia's leading litigation lawyers by Best Lawyers from 2010 to 2020, and has worked on many large property, construction and engineering projects and disputes over the last three decades for major contractors, including disputes and claims on Pluto LNG, Gorgon LNG, New Hope Downs Mine, Port Headland Port Expansion, Roy Hill and Ichthys LNG projects. Cris has also advised government and private proponents on major infrastructure projects, including the South Australian and Northern Territory governments on the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway, Bonaparte Gas Pipeline, PPPs for Darwin Waterfront, Prison and Marine Supply Base projects, and presently the bidding on the Sydney Metro (West) project.

    Cris leads an active disputes and arbitration team in Sydney with approximately AU$1 billion of disputes under management for contractors.

    In 2017, Cris led the successful obtaining of an injunction, and having an appeal against that injunction dismissed, for a contractor preventing the call on its security bonds in what is understood to be the largest security bond demand made in Australia.

    In 2015, the Northern Territory government commissioned Cris to undertake an independent review and report on building industry regulation in the Northern Territory, given his depth of industry knowledge and policy understanding.

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    Contactor Regulatory and Compliance

    • Undertaken major audit and risk management review for the Department of Infrastructure’s contract and procurement.
    • Documented and advised on the implementation of comprehensive environmental and occupational health and safety programs and legislative registers for a BHP Billiton subsidiary.
    • Coordinated audit and continuous improvement programs for a major contractor to assist with accreditation under the Federal National Construction Code 2013.
    • Assisted a tier 1 contractor with developing and implementing a project and contract audit program, whereby major contracts and projects are audited for compliance with contractual requirements. This included assisting with the development of technology applications for the real-time tracking of contract administration and compliance.

    Projects

    • Undertaken project procurement for bulk handling equipment for the development of Darwin East Arm Port.
    • Drafted suites of contracts for institutional principals and contractors, including the Department of Infrastructure, Power and Water Corporation, Macquarie Services, a tier 1 contractor and significant property trust companies.
    • Acted for contractor participants in PPPs, including Darwin Waterfront, Darwin Prison, Darwin Marine Supply Base, Ballarat Prison and, most recently, the tenderer for Sydney Metro (West).
    • Drawing bespoke contracts for numerous building projects, including for a premium office building designed by New York architects Pei Freedman and a 33-level residential building.

    Disputes

    • Acting for John Holland Pty Ltd (when part of the Leighton Group) in a successful defence and compromise of a seven-year Supreme Court action brought against it for the allegedly defective refurbishment of a hospital. The defect allegations exceeded 4,000 individual items across all services and the alternative solution fire engineering of the hospital. The litigation included 18 third parties and three fourth parties, as the contractor had to seek contribution from multiple offshore reinsurance syndicates, and its consultants and subcontractors. The litigation was successfully resolved after a five-week expert conclave.
    • Acting for John Holland Pty Ltd (when part of the Leighton Group) in a successful recovery of delay and disruption claims claimed in excess of AU$120 million against JKC in the CVL 2 subcontract package of the Ichthys LNG Project.
    • Acting for UGL in its joint venture with Kentz on the Mech 1 subcontract package of the Ichthys LNG Project.
    • Acting for a major engineering contractor on contract administration and claims on the Mech 2 subcontract package of the Ichthys LNG Project, Port Headland port extension, and Gorgon LNG and Macedon LNG projects.
    • Acting for Laing O’Rourke in successful injunction proceedings preventing what is understood to be the largest call upon security bonds in Australian history, and successfully defending that injunction in a unanimous decision of the NSW Court of Appeal.
    • Acting for a tier 1 contractor in an international arbitration arising from the termination of a contract and demobilisation of more than 800 project labourers.
    • Acting for Metso Minerals in successfully defending a claim valued at more than AU$300 million surrounding the performance of mine processing equipment in four interrelated actions in the Supreme Courts of the Northern Territory and Queensland, and the Federal Court in Sydney.
    • Acting in numerous mediations, including conducting several mediations.
    • Acting in several significant security for payment applications (including for significant amounts) and judicial reviews of adjudication determinations under the security for payment legislation regimes in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

    Education

    • The University of Adelaide, LL.B., 1987
    • The University of Adelaide, B.A., 1986

    Admissions

    • Northern Territories, Australia
    • Southern Australia
    • New South Wales
    • Western Australia

    Memberships and Affiliations

    • The Law Society of NSW
    • The Law Society of the Northern Territory
    • President of the NT Chapter of the Resolution Institute 
    • Recognised by Best Lawyers in Australia since 2010 as one of Australia’s leading lawyers in Litigation, Dispute Resolution, and Construction/Infrastructure Law
    • Recommended in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2018 in Construction, Australia, and Dispute resolution, Australia
    • Recommended in The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2017 in Construction, Australia
    • Ranked by Best Lawyers 2015 – Alternative Dispute Resolution, Litigation
    • Ranked in Australasian Lawyer’s Hot 40 private practice lawyers for 2014

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    • Speaker, “Security for Payment - Contractor's Obligations”, NT Property Council and NT Minerals Council, Territory Construction Association.
    • Speaker, “Native Title – Land Access Agreements”, Department of Planning and Infrastructure Conference.
    • Author, “The Role of the Private Sector and Providing Public Infrastructure”, The Australian Institute of Project Management.
    • Author, “Benefits & Opportunities in Private Infrastructure Development for the Northern Territory”, Australian Industry Development Corporation.
    • Chair, “Procurement Strategies for Construction Projects in Asia”, LAWASIA Construction Law Standing Committee Conference (Kuala Lumpur).
    • Author, “Litigation, Arbitration and Alternate Dispute Resolution; Unduly Categorised”, Bi-annual LAWASIA Conference.
    • Author, “Builder’s Negligence: Recent Developments”, Law Society of NSW Continuing Legal Education Series.
    • Chair and co-ordinator, 2003 PPP Symposium, launching the Northern Territory PPP Guidelines.
    • Chair, “Risk Management for Engineers”, Association of Consulting Engineers Australia Workshop Day. 
    • Presenter and working group facilitator, Northern Territory Economic Development Forum.

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