Tom Brennan SC

(02) 9238 0047
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Called to the Bar:
Appointed Senior Counsel :


Bachelor of Arts, Australian National University

Bachelor of Laws, Australian National University

Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Australian National University

Professional experience

Tom Brennan specialises in commercial law, regulatory matters and employment law. He has a reputation for successfully running difficult and complex disputes in these areas.

The matters in which Tom regularly appears and advises include civil aviation (regulatory, commercial, insurance and civil liability), competition and consumer law, the law governing intelligence and security agencies and operations, government information, employment and industrial disputes and anti-suit injunctions. Many of the disputes in which he appears contain a cross-jurisdictional element.

Tom regularly appears at trial and appellate level in a diverse range of Federal and State jurisdictions including the High Court of Australia, Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, New South Wales Court of Appeal and the New South Wales Supreme Court. He also appears in tribunals, such as the Fair Work Commission and Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Tom’s chambers are equipped with high quality audio visual conferencing facilities for use in appearances, mediations and conferences. He accepts fully electronic briefs and is the author of the Guide to Preparing and Sending an Electronic Brief. The scope of Tom’s practice and complementary practice areas assist him to integrate different legal disciplines to achieve favourable commercial outcomes for his clients. He accepts briefs from solicitors in law firms and in-house legal counsel, and is commended by his clients for his detailed knowledge, breadth of experience and attention to detail. He is a strategic litigator who is highly valued for his preparedness to run difficult cases and creative abilities.

Prior to joining the Bar in 2006, Tom acquired considerable experience as a senior executive in the Federal Government and as a public company director. Tom was also previously a Partner at national law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth. He is the former Chair of 13 Wentworth Chambers and holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University in Canberra.


Law Council of Australia, Trade Practices Committee

Law Council of Australia, Civil Litigation Section

Law Council of Australia, International Law Section

Australian Institute of Administrative Law

Selected Cases

Commercial Disputes

Creak ats Ford Motor Company of Australia [2022] NSWSC 83 – acting for the respondent to proceedings for enforcement of settlement deed consequent on termination of car dealer franchise

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd ats Wells Fargo Trust (on the remitter from VB Leaseco Pty Ltd (administrators appointed) v Wells Fargo Trust Company [2020] FCAFC 168) – appeared for the administrators of the Virgin Group to obtain orders in dispute with aircraft lessor that enabled completion of the administration

Mackellar Mining Equipment Pty Ltd v Thornton [2019] HCATrans 188; [2019] QCA 77, 367 ALR 171 – Appeal against refusal of anti-suit injunction – whether continuation of foreign proceeding becomes vexatious upon resolution of claims against foreign parties

Hills Ltd ats Rauland Australia Pty Ltd [2019] FCA 1174, [2019] FCA 1175, [2020] FCA 516, [2020] FCA 1400- acted for Hills Ltd in long running disputes concerning claims of misuse of confidential information of a competitor supplier of nurse call systems to hospitals

AerCap Ireland v Beijing Capital Airlines (2019) – appeared for aircraft lessor in the first (ex-parte) application in Australia to “arrest” an aircraft under the Cape Town Convention

Murray ats Feros [2019] NSWSC 260 – dissolution of partnership of pharmacists; winding up of operating entities

Marketform Managing Agency Ltd ats Amashaw Pty Ltd [2018] NSWCA 70, 97 NSWLR 306 – Appeared for an insured on a claim for indemnity for rectification of service station petrol leak under environmental liability risks policy

Regulatory Disputes

Charlotte Pass Snow Resort Pty Ltd ats Environment & Protection Authority [2021] NSWLEC 48; [2021] NSWCCA 289 – acted for the defendant on application to set aside environmental charges on grounds of duplicity; an in the appeal by the prosecutor

Mosaic Brands ats ACMA [2020] FCA 1527; [2021] FCA 669 – acting for Mosaic Brands in its challenge to a notice requiring production of documents in and of investigation under Spam Act

Waterco Ltd v Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority NSD 1335/2020 – appeared for registrants under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Code to obtain orders setting aside decisions to cancel various registrations of pool and spa sanitisers. Orders sought made by consent following the first day of expedited trial

Commonwealth of Australia v Helicopter Resources Pty Ltd [2020] HCA 16; [2019] FCAFC 25, 264 FCR 1; [2018] FCA 595, [2018] FCA 991 – appeared for Helicopter Resources at trial and on appeal – application to restrain a Coroner from examining operator’s Chief Pilot on safety standards of air operations in the Antarctic when the operator has been charged with offences under Work Health and Safety law

Work Health Authority v Outback Ballooning Pty Ltd [2019] HCA 2, 93 ALJR 212; [2017] NTCA 7, 326 FLR 1 – appeared for Outback Ballooning – Constitutional Law – do the Civil Aviation Act, Regulations and Orders cover the field of the prescription and enforcement of safety standards in civil aviation – exclusion of application of Work Health and Safety laws to safety of civil air operations

PT Garuda Indonesia ats ACCC [2017] HCA 21, 262 CLR 207; [2016] FCAFC 42, (2016) 244 FCR 190; [2014] FCA 1157; (2014) ATPR 42-490; [2019] FCA 786, 370 ALR 637; [2020] FCA 685 – Appeared for Garuda in Australia’s largest ever competition law enforcement proceedings concerning the alleged international air cargo cartel on liability questions at trial, on the regulator’s appeal to the Full Court and Garuda’s appeal to the High Court of Australia. Continued to act on the remittal of the proceedings for determination of penalty and Garuda’s appeal against penalty. There are more than 20 published judgments in the proceeding dealing with numerous significant legal issues concerning foreign sovereign immunity, extraterritorial reach of competition law and its intersection with public international civil aviation law (in particular, the laws of Indonesia, Hong Kong and Australia were considered)

Employment & Industrial Disputes

Qube Ports Pty Ltd ats CFMMEU C2020/4469 – in the Fair Work Commission successfully resisting application by CFMMEU concerning calculations of wages for irregular employees for whom employer received Jobkeeper

Dorber ats CFMMEU NSD 1329/2019 – appeared in the Federal Court for Mr Dorber who was sued by the CFMMEU for contraventions of the Fair Work Act in his capacity as an employer bargaining representative. Proceeding resolved in 2020 by CFMMEU consenting to judgment against it with an order that it pay Mr Dorber’s costs

Pezzimenti v Rotary International (2019) 290 IR 219; [2020] FCCA 95 – appeared for Mr Pezzimenti obtaining compensation and penalties for his unlawful dismissal as Chief Executive of Rotary in Australia

Australian Defence Apparel Pty Ltd v Graham & Anor [2019] NSWSC 1162 – appeared for the former CEO in post-employment restraint dispute

Bartlett v Australian and New Zealand Banking Ltd [2016] NSWCA 30, 92 NSWLR 639 – An often-cited case in employment and contract law. Appeared for Mr Bartlett on a dispute concerning termination of employment. The matter also concerned qualification of contractual powers and discretions by requirements of good faith and reasonableness and principles for resolving conflicts in expert evidence

Administrative Law

CCU21 v Minister for Home Affairs  [2022] FCA 28 – acting for Applicant in proceedings seeking review of ASIO security assessment and associated visa cancellation decision

FUD18 v Minister for Home Affairs [2021] FCAFC 132; [2020] FCA 48 – Appeared for Applicant seeking writ to prohibit cancellation of Visa in reliance on Interpol Red Notice – first judicial consideration of character test provision concerning Interpol notices

Hocking v Director-General, National Archives of Australia [2020] HCA 19; [2019] FCAFC 12; [2018] FCA 340, 255 FCR 1 – appeared for Professor Hocking – Constitutional and Administrative Law – letters between the Governor-General in his official capacity and the Queen are the “property of the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth institution” and subject to the Archives Act – nature and incidents of the office of Governor- General

Commonwealth of Australia v Helicopter Resources Pty Ltd [2020] HCA 16; [2019] FCAFC 25, 264 FCR 174; [2018] FCA 595, [2018] FCA 991 – appeared for Helicopter Resources – Judicial Review of decision by Coroner to require employee of company charged with offence to answer questions which may be relevant to the charges – scope of corporation’s right to an accusatory trial – powers of Coroner

Degning v Minister for Home Affairs [2019] FCAFC 67 – appeared for the appellant to set aside deportation order – interpretation of legislation – presumption against retrospectivity – denial of natural justice

BSX15 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2017] FCAFC 104, 249 FCR 1; [2016] FCA 1432 – Appeared for the applicant at trial and on appeal in a matter setting aside ASIO’s adverse security assessment for denial of procedural fairness

Fitzgibbon v Prime Minister [2017] FCA 968, 72 AAR 431; [2017] AATA 502 – Appeared for the Prime Minister in a matter concerning the scope of application of provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act when documents in the possession of the Prime Minister are claimed to be private documents of the Prime Minister

Qantas Airways v Lustig [2015] FCA 253, 228 FCR 148 – Appeared for Qantas in a proceeding establishing that State consumer tribunals that are not Courts cannot hear consumer claims with federal law elements