During a period with rapid change to way we work, and the regulatory and business environment, the title of our 37th annual conference “Tectonic Shifts in Banking & Financial Service” was prescient.

The BFSLA was determined to hold an annual conference in 2021 – after the cancellation of the 2020 Conference in Queenstown due to COVID travel restrictions. To enable members from both sides of the Tasman Sea to attend (and to manage the risk of further lockdowns and intrastate travel restrictions), we held the conference in two locations – Sydney and Auckland – and provided facilities so members could attend virtually or in person. The rapid spread of the delta variant of COVID caused border closures within Australia and a full lockdown in both Sydney and Auckland, so conference was entirely virtual, and the conference dinner and welcome drinks were cancelled.

In a sign of how well banking lawyers have adapted to remote working (and the organisational skills of our former President Rebecca Hope, her team, and the Conference Organisation Committee), the hybrid conference was a great success, with over 190 attendees.

The conference started in Auckland with The Financial Sector (Climate-related disclosures and other matters) Amendment Bill chaired by Katrina Gardiner (ANZ), with Lloyd Kavanagh (MinterEllison Rudd Watts), while the Sydney attendees were having breakfast.

After our President Rebecca Hope formally opened the conference at 8:30am/10:30am Sydney/Auckland time. The keynote speaker Justice Edelman of the High Court then considered ‘Corporate Attribution and Responsibility’ in a discussion chaired by Dr Nuncio D’Angelo of Norton Rose Fulbright. After commencing with a quote from Albert Einstein, His Honour provided the ‘take home message’ that there are three long established ways in which a corporation can be criminally responsible – and a fourth may be emerging.

Joanna Bird (Executive Director, Financial Services & Wealth ASIC), Liam Mason (General Counsel of the Financial Markets Authority) and Professor Elise Bant (University of WA) provided a very insightful discussion chaired by Simun Soljo of Allens on ‘Shifting Sands: New statutory strategies for promoting good customer outcomes in Financial Services’.

Martijn Wilder AM (Pollination Group), Gus Graham (Linklaters), and Louise McCoach (Gilbert + Tobin) provided a great overview of the legal issues in sustainable debt and loan financing in the discussion ‘A lawyers toolkit for the greening of debt – the future for sustainable finance in Australia and New Zealand’. Martijn started with an overview on the economic and policy drivers in sustainable finance. Louise discussed the legal issues in capital market instruments and Gus the syndicated loan practices in Europe (which are many years ahead of Australian and New Zealand markets).

There were two sessions after lunch, ‘Navigating Business Turnaround: Restructuring in 2021’ chaired by Josh Cairns (Simpson Grierson) involving Tim Sackar (Clayton Utz) and Matt Kersey (Russell McVeagh).

This was followed by Professor Jeannie Paterson (Melbourne University) and Tim Brookes (Ashurst) in a discussion on ‘Walking the line in Open Banking: Taking Back Control or Over-Sharing?’ chaired by Matt Cunningham (MinterEllison).

Fittingly the concluding plenary seminar for a successful virtual conference was titled ‘Waiving, not drowning!’ by the remarkable Jeffrey Goldberger (Norton Rose Fulbright) chaired by Nathan Collins (King Wood Mallesons).

The final seminar (Sydney only) was ‘The new Quantum Theory: statutory unconscionable conduct post -Kobalt’ by Ruth Higgins SC (Banco Chambers, Sydney) chaired by Rebecca Hope (ANZ). Ruth used the great German physicist Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (and quotes from Oscar Wilde) to illustrate some of the challenges in developing common themes in case law on unconscionability.

Thank you to our sponsors

We thank our many sponsors for the 2021 conference for the valuable support, and acknowledge:

BFSLA Conference 2022

We are planning for the 2022 conference to be held in jointly in Sydney and Auckland on 26 August 2022.