Tom Grace

Tom is a former engineer who ran his own construction company for over 20 years, completing many projects in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, before entering the legal profession.

Tom has a wide range of experience in handling commercial disputes with a focus on construction and engineering. His wealth of practical business experience coupled with his knowledge of engineering and construction give him a significant advantage in dealing with disputes.

He is a capable advocate and has often acted as counsel for clients, both in formal court hearings and in negotiations. He is a strong supporter of alternative forms of dispute resolution and his ability to quickly cut to the essential issues of a dispute and to make an assessment of the likely outcome has resulted in the early and cost effective resolution of many disputes. He is a trained mediator and his engineering and construction background assist him in bringing parties in conflict to sensible and commercial resolutions of disputes in these areas.

Tom is a regular contributor to the Australian Construction Law Journal and has been teaching contract management to contractors and Government departments since 2000. Tom’s book on Construction Law was rewritten in 2013 and forms the basis for courses in the management of construction contracts that Fenwick Elliott Grace has presented in various States across Australia.

Principal areas of practice

Construction & Engineering, Commercial Dispute Resolution, Environment and Planning, Administrative Law


Bachelor of Engineering
Graduate Diploma in Property
Bachelor of Laws (Honours – 1st class)
Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice


Law Society of South Australia
Law Society Northern Territory

Examples of professional experience

Construction & Engineering

  • Australian Railroad Group – negotiated resolution of four complex disputes arising from freight train derailments involving aggregate claims of loss, damages and costs in excess of $4 million;
  • Origin Energy – drafting and negotiation of contracts in respect to the construction and long term maintenance of co-generation facilities at hospitals in the Toowoomba (Qld) area;
  • ETSA Utilities – negotiation of a range of contracts involving the utilisation of infrastructure by third parties;
  • ETSA Utilities – review of terms of tenders for a range of construction projects;
  • Decor Ceilings – arbitration proceedings for a sub-contractor in respect of prolongation claims and disputed variations in relation to the Training and Development Unit;
  • Candetti Constructions – litigation and negotiated settlements in respect of disputed claims over construction projects;
  • Baroudi Zoina – negotiations in respect of a dispute arising from the construction of a retirement village;
  • Australasian Piling Company – urgent proceedings in the Supreme Court overturning the regulatory authority’s decision not to renew a building license.

Commercial Dispute Resolution

  • Banksia Wines – successful negotiation of a potentially litigious dispute with a grape supplier over a long term grape supply agreement;
  • Telstra – litigation in the Supreme Court in respect of a delay in executing a commercial lease on negotiated terms;
  • Aussie Home Loans – obtaining a Court injunction restraining trade of former sales person in relation to passing off by misleading advertising;
  • Ernst & Young – assisting in the conduct of the examinations of directors, officers and auditors of Normans Wines Limited (In Liquidation) in respect of the liquidators’ inquiries and seeking to recover in excess of $25 million of unsecured debt;
  • Sheahan Lock Partners – assisting in the conduct of the examination of the former adviser to Blue Apple Electronics and the institution of a professional negligence claim and other claims seeking to recover loss and damage in excess of $0.5 million;
  • Sims Partners – assisting in conduct of examinations of former director of Pope Electric Motors Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) and Perry Engineering Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) in respect of the liquidator’s inquiries seeking to recover in excess of $5 million of unsecured debt.

Environment and Planning

  • Telstra – Environment Resources & Development (“ERD”) Court of South Australia action in respect of the construction of a mobile telephone tower at Marion;
  • Telstra – proceedings in the ERD Court in respect of the construction of a mobile telephone base station at Colonel Light Gardens including appeal to the Full Bench of the Supreme Court of South Australia;
  • Telstra – overturning “stop-work” orders by proceedings in the ERD Court in respect of mobile phone base station at Coromandel Valley;
  • Spencer Gulf Telecasters – successfully negotiating settlement through proceedings in the ERD Court for the construction of a microwave link tower at Balaklava;
  • Telstra – negotiating settlement of dispute through institution of proceedings in the ERD Court in relation to the construction of a mobile phone tower at Willunga;
  • Telstra – submissions to the State Government in respect of proposed alterations to the Regulations under the Development Act 1993 governing exemptions for the construction of infrastructure;
  • Scott Group – submissions in respect of subdivision of land at Mt Gambier;
  • ETSA Utilities – advice in relation to exemptions from planning legislation applicable to the maintenance of infrastructure and advising on the contractual issues relating to the utilisation of ETSA’s infrastructure by telecommunications carriers;
  • successful negotiations on behalf of a number of clients with the Environmental Protection Agency in respect of potential prosecutions for breaches of the Act.

Administrative Law

  • Successful submissions to the Commonwealth Government authority (AQUIS) in respect of potential restrictions to an export license for one of South Australia’s largest exporters of fresh food;
  • WorkCover – acting and appearing as counsel in respect of a range of matters including appeals to the Supreme Court of South Australia and the High Court of Australia resulting from applications for information under the Freedom of Information Act, 1991.