Caroline Coops practices in the Competition and Regulatory team and guides clients through complex merger clearance matters, abuse of dominance, regulatory investigations, competition litigation and pricing and distribution strategies. She is described by market commentators as a "very intelligent and capable lawyer" with "exceptional knowledge and experience in merger clearance", possessing "a depth of understanding of competition law issues that is second to none" and by clients as being "professional, work[ing] well under pressure", "very commercial in her approach", “extremely pragmatic” and as “understandi[ing] the internal temperature at [client] without needing to be told and tailor[ing] her manner… appropriately.”
Caroline’s expertise is particularly evidenced by her work on the following matters:
- NAB: acting for NAB in relation to the ACCC’s Residential Mortgage Products Price Inquiry.
- ACCC Federal Court proceedings against Medibank Private: Caroline successfully defended Medibank in the Federal Court proceedings issued by the ACCC alleging misleading and unconscionable conduct regarding changes to diagnostic services arrangements. Changes to private health insurance benefits and customer disclosure is a key enforcement priority for the ACCC, and these were the first Court enforcement proceedings pursued by the ACCC in this space. The decision has now been appealed by the ACCC to the Full Federal Court.
- Australian Olympic Committee v Telstra Corporation Limited: Caroline successfully defended Telstra against the AOC’s litigation alleging misleading conduct and breach by Telstra of the Olympic Insignia Protection Act (OIPA). The case garnered widespread media interest and was the first case brought under the OIPA Act since its inception.
- Asciano’s public takeover by Brookfield: advising Asciano on the ACCC issues associated with the A$9bn takeover bids by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners and the Qube Consortium. This was the largest public takeover matter at the time in Australia and involved some of the most complex issues ever considered by the ACCC. The ACCC released one of its strongest Statement of Issues in the matter with a number of ‘red light’ issues. The matter involved the offer of complicated section 87B undertakings that interfaced with various State regulatory regimes.
- Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC): advising Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) on its acquisition of Energy Australia’s Iona Gas Plant valued at $1.78 billion and successfully obtaining ACCC clearance.
- Telstra Corporation Limited: Caroline has been Telstra’s strategic advisor on competition and consumer matters for its retail business for over 15 years. She has advised Telstra on its major ACCC investigations and litigation for past 10 years, the launch of its new brand and product campaigns and its dealer and distribution arrangements.
Expertise and industry roles
Caroline is the former Chair of the Law Council’s Competition and Consumer Committee (Business Law Section) - the key representative body of the leading competition lawyers and practitioners in Australia. Caroline is only the second female Chair appointed in the Committee’s 40 year history. This position demonstrates Caroline’s distinguished reputation in her practice area. As Chair, she led the response of the profession to the Government’s Competition Policy (being the most significant review and proposed reform of competition policy and laws in the last 20 years) and the Government’s review of the Australian Consumer Law.
Caroline is also an invited member of the ACCC’s Performance Consultative Committee, being one of only two private practitioners on that Committee, and was an external guest speaker at the ACCC’s Senior Management Conference in February 2017.
Caroline is recognised as a notable practitioner in Chambers & Partners 2017 (Band 2), as a leading lawyer - highly regarded in IFLR1000 2019 edition, GCR100 2018, Asialaw Leading Lawyers 2018 and in Who’s Who Legal for competition law (2018). She is also listed in Euromoney’s Women in Business Law Expert Guide (2017), as a leading lawyer in Doyles Guide (2017) and a leading competition lawyer (2018), as one of Australia’s top competition lawyers, as judged by peers, in the Australian Financial Review since 2011 and has been named Regulatory Lawyer of the Year 2018 (Best Lawyers).
Caroline was also a finalist in the AFR/Beaton Client Choice Awards 2017 ‘most client focused lawyer’ category, is recognised as a stand out star lawyer in Acritas Stars (2018) (nominated by General Counsel) and was a short-listed nominee for Lawyers' Weekly Partner of the Year Awards in 2016 and 2017 in Competition, Trade and Regulatory.
- 1996: Bachelor of Laws (Hons)/Bachelor of Arts degree, Monash University
- 1996 - 2001: Solicitor, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Melbourne
- 2001 - 2006: Senior Associate, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Melbourne
- 2006 - present: Partner, Competition & Regulatory, King & Wood Mallesons, Melbourne
- 2011-2013: Managing Partner, Corporate Advisory, TMET and People & Development, King & Wood Mallesons
Competition and Consumer Committee of the Business Law Section of the Business Council of Australia