Bernice Ellis

Bernice has a broad-ranging commercial-disputes practice, but her specialities are insolvency and debt recovery, shareholder disputes, compulsory land acquisition, State taxes and Federal tax disputes. She is sought out for her sound technical advice, along with her straight-talking and commercially pragmatic approach to protecting the interests of her clients.

Bernice’s forte is managing and resolving complex claims. She has a proven track record of being able to quickly get to the factual and legal heart of a dispute, assemble and analyse evidence and develop solutions for her clients, regularly collaborating with a broader team of the client’s advisors. Getting a practical result for her clients is paramount, with those clients including insolvency practitioners, financial institutions, debtors, unsecured creditors, and company directors and shareholders.


Bernice’s expertise includes:

  • Advising on partnership and shareholder disputes, including rights and remedies such as oppression claims and equitable winding ups
  • Advising on insolvency-related issues, including rights and obligations of insolvency practitioners, creditors, debtors, security holders, company directors, landlords, tenants, and trustees
  • Preparing and running insolvency-related litigation, including public examinations, voidable transaction claims, insolvent trading claims, and debt recovery
  • Advising on and preparing compensation claims for compulsory acquisition of land, including heads of compensation and valuation methods
  • Advising on State and Territory payroll tax obligations and liability, including grouping, de-grouping, contractor and employment agency arrangements, structuring with discretionary trusts, and penalties
  • Preparing and running objections and appeals to State and Territory payroll tax amended assessments and penalty assessments
  • Advising on and preparing objections to Federal tax amended assessments and penalty assessments
  • Preparing and running litigation appealing Federal tax objection decisions on primary tax and penalties.

Recent projects

  • Acting for companies and directors in the Australian gold industry object to amended assessments of GST and penalties, and resist ATO debt recovery action.
  • Advising a large multi-faceted corporate group about ACT payroll tax grouping obligations, liabilities, and prospects of successful applying to de-group various entities.
  • Acting for a liquidator to publically examine and then successfully pursue company directors for unreasonable director-related transactions and breach of duties.
  • Acting for a liquidator to publically examine and then successfully pursue a secured creditor to recover unfair preference payments.
  • Acting for directors of an insolvent company to successfully defend a liquidator’s claim for uncommercial transactions and insolvent trading.
  • Acting for a company to recover compensation from the Commonwealth Government for compulsory acquisition of a large tract of pastoral land.
  • Acting for directors of a pastoral company to recover compensation from the Commonwealth Government for compulsory acquisition of the company’s land, including dwellings.
  • Acting for an individual defendant in the ACT’s much publicised and highly acrimonious first “whistle blower” case.

Professional Memberships / Accreditation & Activities

  • Recommended Lawyer, Restructuring and Insolvency and Dispute resolution: Litigation, Legal 500, Australia.
  • Recognised Lawyer, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Litigation, The Best Lawyers in Australia.
  • Leading Lawyer, Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Doyle’s Guide.




Ross Higgins