Karen Thomas

Position: Partner - Commercial Litigation
Direct Telephone: +61 8 8233 0639
Direct Facsimile: +61 8 8233 0699
Direct E-mail: kthomas@fisherjeffries.com.au
Practice Areas
Arts & Entertainment
Construction & Engineering
Corporate Risk & Insurance
Gaming & Licensing
Government Business
Infrastructure & Projects
Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Media & Defamation
Trade Practices

Professional Experience

Karen's areas of legal practice are diverse. With 20 years of experience, Karen's expertise includes all types of difficult and complex commercial disputes in all Australian jurisdictions. She is a practical, resourceful and tenacious lawyer.

Karen's reputation for achieving excellent results for her clients is built on her keen legal and tactical judgment, backed by strong management skills and commerciality.

Karen is particularly adept at managing the team of multidisciplinary professionals necessary to conduct complex and large scale litigation. Her strong communication and organisational skills complement her creative operating style.

As well as conducting a successful legal practice, Karen is the managing partner of Fisher Jeffries and a key member of the firm's management committee. The management committee is responsible for the effective operation of the firm.

Major Assignments

  • Karen acts for one of Australia's largest manufacturers in regularly providing risk management advice and conducting a variety of business disputes across Australia that involve a range of contractual, product liability and trade practices issues. One major case involves a long running $23 million claim for wrongful termination of a series of demolition contracts.
  • Since 2002, Karen has represented the previous detention services provider to the Commonwealth Government by providing strategic risk management advice and defending claims arising from the operation of that business throughout Australia including the much publicised HREOC Inquiry into the Detention of Children.
  • Another key client of Karen's is an international food and beverage distributor. Karen handles all this client's South Australian litigation including a number of major Federal Court matters that have involved contract, trade practices and competition issues as well as product liability and intellectual property claims.
  • Karen represented the Auditor-General of South Australia in his inquiry and report to the Parliament of South Australia on the redevelopment of the Hindmarsh Soccer Stadium.
  • For 5 years, Karen defended a US manufacturer of electronic colour reproduction equipment in a major Federal Court dispute that finally resolved on appeal to the High Court.
  • For 5 years, Karen conducted a $20m dispute between major banks over cheque kiting that involved an investigation into the entire cheque clearing system of Australian banks between 1986 and 1991.
  • For several years, Karen acted for investor/borrowers against the Pegasus group in a series of cases involving thoroughbred finance products. Karen's expertise in this area was later recognised by her appointment as a consultant to the South Australian Government's Taskforce to review the State Bank group's exposure to the Pegasus' group's financing activities.
  • Acting for a South Australian university, Karen had the conduct of a $20M Federal Court case that involved trade practices and probity issues in the context of a Commonwealth Government CRC grant.

Professional & Industry Memberships

Law Council of Australia
Business Law Section of the Law Council of Australia
Australian Professional Indemnity Group Inc
Australian Insurance Law Association
Australian Institute of Company Directors
Law Society of South Australia

Tertiary Qualifications

Bachelor of Laws (University of Adelaide) (Honours) (1987)
Bachelor of Economics (University of Adelaide) (1986)
NSW College of Law (1987)
Admitted to the Supreme Courts of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory & Admitted to the High Court of Australia