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About John

John Birrell is a senior associate in the firm’s dispute resolution and litigation practice in Sydney. He acts for companies and individuals on a wide range of commercial disputes and white collar criminal matters.

John joined the firm in 2020 and was appointed as a senior associate in July 2021. Prior to joining ABL, he was a senior solicitor at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) specialising in litigation involving prison and police misconduct. John previously worked at MinterEllison and for the Office of the Solicitor Assisting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

John holds a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours from the Australian National University and a Master of Laws from Columbia Law School. He is admitted to practise as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia.

Practice focus

John’s practice focuses on the following areas:

  • commercial litigation and dispute resolution
  • corporate regulatory investigations and enforcement action
  • white collar crime, and
  • public inquiries.


John has acted for clients on a range of matters, including:

Dispute resolution & litigation

  • A high-net-worth individual and his controlled entities in litigation relating to a transaction with a US-based private equity fund
  • A minority shareholder in relation to a dispute over payments made to nominee directors of a private company, and
  • A media company in relation to NSW Supreme Court proceedings involving allegations of breach of directors’ duties, breach of securities regulations and breach of contract (pre-ABL).

White collar crime

  • A former director and senior executive in relation to proceedings alleging offences under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Public inquiries

  • Numerous young people in relation to evidence given before the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (pre-ABL), and  
  • A private infrastructure company in relation to two inquiries by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (pre-ABL).  

Public interest

  • Four young people in proceedings before the High Court of Australia, Northern Territory Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in relation to the use of CS (tear) gas at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre (pre-ABL).

Recognition & publications

Take a look at Insights & News articles referencing John Birrell