Australian independent law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth is set to move into the PNG energy and resources space, with the firm making multiple new hires and establishing an on-the-ground presence in Port Moresby. The firm has raided the offices of Allans with leading PNG resources sector specialist, Vaughan Mills and a team joining Corrs. Mr Mills developed and led Allan's Papua New Guinea practice for nearly 20 years. Also joining Corrs’ PNG team are Nick Thorne, Kenneth Imako, Ryan Warokra, Emmanuel Rere and Jeff Mesa, with one partner and two additional associates also expected to join Corrs’ new PNG team in the coming months. In addition, four support staff have joined Corrs’ PNG team.
Corrs partner and CEO John Denton said the firm’s client-driven approach was the motivating force behind Corrs’ move into PNG. 'Our strategy to maintain our independence was built on, and continues on, the premise that we are committed to providing our clients with best-of-breed expertise in every market. We never have to make compromises in order to please a global head office and, as a result, our clients have access to leading practitioners around the world who truly meet their needs. This uncompromising approach is what led us to the decision that in PNG it was necessary to establish our own presence there, housed with the best PNG lawyers in the market,' he said.
Mr Denton went on to say that Mr Mills was ' the most experienced lawyer in the PNG energy and resources space with an outstanding track record of advising on the most significant resources projects in Papua New Guinea. Combined with his team, Vaughan will be able to offer Corrs’ clients legal and strategic advice second to none. With the energy and resources sector in PNG of increasing importance to our clients and set for continued and substantial growth, we are proud to be standing firmly behind our commitment to remain an independent, client-driven firm providing our clients with the very best.' he added.
High profile projects
Mr Mills splits his time between Corrs’ Port Moresby and Brisbane offices. He has acted as PNG counsel on a number of high profile projects. He advised ExxonMobil as operator of the PNG LNG Project. Recently, Vaughan advised Oil Search in its US$2.5 billion bid to acquire InterOil, which holds a 37 per cent interest in the Papua LNG Project.In Australia, Vaughan advised Shell Australia on its 20-year retail fuel Alliance with Coles Express.
Allens and Ashurst were the first firms to set up in PNG with Norton Rose Fulbright is the latest to set up shop. Dentons also has a presence through its deal with local law firm Gadens.