Victorian Registry, Federal Court of Australia (VID434/2015).
Date of Filing
20 August 2015.
Cheryl Whittenbury v Vocation Ltd (in Liquidation) & Anor.
Solicitors for Applicants
Maurice Blackburn, Slater and Gordon.
Solicitors for Respondent
Solicitor for the First Respondent and Cross-Claimant: Gilbert + Tobin.
Solicitor for the Second Respondent: Herbert Smith Freehills.
Solicitor for the Third Respondent: Gilbert + Tobin.
Solicitor for the Fourth Respondent: Clyde & Co.
Solicitor for the Fifth Respondent: Baker McKenzie.
International Litigation Funding Partners Pte Ltd, Omni Bridgeway Limited (formerly IMF Bentham Limited).
Vocation Limited was a company whose primary business was running vocational education colleges. On 26 November 2015, Vocation announced that it had gone into voluntary administration, a decision resulting from the loss of $19.6m in Government funding and related ongoing contracts from the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (‘DEECD’). This arose due to serious compliance issues at two of Vocation’s Registered Training Organisations (‘RTOs’) in Victoria. DEECD had concluded that Vocation’s RTOs had enrolled students in inappropriate courses and that students had received poor quality training. It found Vocation relied too heavily on the third parties that referred students and had failed to impose adequate controls to manage the performance of those third parties.
In the days immediately following the announcement, Vocation’s share price fell more than 60 percent.
From late 2014, Vocation publicly maintained that it expected DEECD’s review would not have a material outcome. Then on 27 October 2014, Vocation announced a settlement under which DEECD would end its investigation in exchange for Vocation surrendering the Government funding and related contracts held by the applicable RTOs (BAWM and Aspin) in early 2015.
The class action alleges that Vocation was aware of the BAWM and Aspin compliance issues and was required to disclose that information to the market. It also claims that Vocation misled the market regarding the nature and extent of the DEECD review and failed to disclose that there were serious compliance issues at BAWM and Aspin.
The class action also alleges that PricewaterhouseCoopers caused loss to group members by making certain statements while retained to carry out an audit of Vocation’s FY2014 financial report.
In November 2019, certain of Vocation’s director’s, namely Mark Hutchinson, John Dawkins and Manvinder Grewal were joined as Respondents. The class action alleges they engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
Capacity to Join
The matter is set down for trial commencing 2 March 2021.