Background

In 2013, Michael came to the Bar, where he has continued to build on his reputation as advocate and advisor in many high-profile cases and projects.

He was admitted as a solicitor in NSW in 1980, and became a partner with Sly & Russell (now Norton Rose Fulbright). In 1992, he moved as a partner to Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst). As a solicitor, Michael practiced as both an advisor and advocate and built an outstanding reputation across his chosen practice areas.

Between July 2003 and November 2004, Michael was seconded to the NSW Department of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR) as Corporate Counsel. This involved supervising the litigation of the Department and also legislation, including the creation of State Water, the commencement of the Water Management Act 2000 via the passage of the 2004 Amending Act, and (as instructing counsel in Parliament) the 2003 natural resources cognate legislation - the Native Vegetation Act, Natural Resource Commission Act and the Catchment Management Authorities Act.

Listed by Doyles as a Leading Planning & Environment Lawyer since 2013, Michael is also recognised in Best Lawyers in Australia (2017) under the categories of:

  • Construction/Infrastructure Law
  • Energy Law
  • Government Practice
  • Natural Resources Law, and
  • Planning & Environmental Law, for which he is the current 'Lawyer of the Year’ 2017.

Michael has a thorough, first-hand understanding of the pressures under which solicitors operate and their requirements of counsel. He has a highly collaborative working style and implicit respect for his briefing solicitors’ familiarity with the case. He understands his clients’ imperatives, manages expectations with clarity and empathy, and instils confidence at every stage of the legal process.

Michael’s approach to detail is intensely forensic. He particularly enjoys making sense of very complicated facts. He firmly adheres to the principles of logic to problem-solve, extract the most salient facts and strongest arguments, and achieve the best outcomes.



Focus Areas + Select Cases

Advising in relation to regulation of advertising on vessels in Sydney Harbour under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.

Appearing in DG of Planning v Glass Recovery Services (2015) 207 LGERA 397. Successful defence of prosecution for carrying out development without consent. Concerned existing use rights and statutory interpretation of instruments under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.

Appearing in Moore v Corowa Shire Council [2009) NSWLEC 113. Interaction between development and public authority works, and environmental law.

Advising RMS in relation to State and Commonwealth Environmental approvals required for major projects, including Pacific Highway upgrade, North West Transitway, Erskine Park Link Road Network, Cross City Tunnel, Bongor Bypass, Eastern Distributor, including advice on new legislation and delegated legislation as required.

Advising and appearing for countless developers and councils in LEC appeals.

Appearing in Dial a Dump v RMS in LEC and CA in relation to breadth of “interest in land” under the Just Terms Act (2016).

Appearing in approximately 10 compulsory acquisition valuation cases in LEC over WestConnex acquisitions (2015-6).

Appearing in four compulsory acquisition valuation cases in LEC over Northern Beaches Private Hospital connectivity project acquisitions (2015-6).

Appearing for Transgrid in four compulsory acquisition valuation cases in LEC over acquisition of easement for transmission lines (including EMF issues alleged to affect land values).

Appearing in Jacfin v Transgrid in LEC, being a compulsory acquisition valuation case concerning a major Western Sydney substation.

Appearing in People for the Plains Inc. v Santos Ltd in a challenge to the validity of approvals for coal seam gas exploration in Northern NSW (2016).

Appearing in Rivers SOS Inc v Minister in a challenge to the validity of approvals for underground coal mining in NSW (2009).

Advising NSW Minerals Council in relation to interaction between the Mining Act and the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.

Advising RMS on relationship between Roads Act and Mining Act (mining in relation to public roads).


Appearing in Sertari v Quakers Hill [2014] NSWCA 338 CA. Concerned the interrelationship between private (easement) law and public (Planning) law.

Appearing in GMC Healthcare v Shao. Supreme Court Proceedings concerning interpretation of commercial lease.

Appearing and advising in Reynolds v Pond. Supreme Court Proceedings concerning contest between possessory title claimant and executor of registered proprietor.

Advising Rio Tinto in relation to land-swap and development rights over surplus mining land in Hunter Valley.

Advising RMS in relation to Works Authorisation Deeds where development rights granted to private developers were conditional on road work on classified roads.

Appearing in Lane Cove Council v Orca Partners (2015) 208 LGERA 114 - challenge to validity of development consent granted by JRPP.

Advising NSW Government on a number of major projects - including Parramatta Light Rail, Sydney Metro, WestConnex, Eastern Distributor - and, in many cases, legislative and regulatory amendment.

Advising Commonwealth Government on establishment of intermodal rail terminal in Sydney.

Appearing in Trives v Hornsby Shire Council in both LEC and CA on a case involving jurisdictional fact doctrine.

Appearing in Australian Skydive v Wyong Council in LEC concerning administrative law challenge to setting of fees to use an airport.

Appearing in Lane Cove Council v Orca Partners (2015) 208 LGERA 114 - challenge to validity of development consent granted by JRPP.

Advising NSW Government on a number of major projects - including Parramatta Light Rail, Sydney Metro, WestConnex, Eastern Distributor - and, in many cases, legislative and regulatory amendment.

Advising Commonwealth Government on establishment of intermodal rail terminal in Sydney.


Notable Cases

Dial A Dump v RMS [2016] NSWLEC 39 Concerned the concept of “interest in land” under the Land Acquisition (just Terms Compensation) Act, 1991 and interests in discretionary trust. LEC. Read More

Trives v Hornsby Shire Council (2015) 89 NSWLR 268 (Court of Appeal), Hornsby v Trives [2016]NSWLEC 28, [2015]NSWLEC 190. Judicial review in the planning law context particularly related to jurisdictional fact doctrine. LEC and Court of Appeal. Read More

DG of Planning v Glass Recovery Services (2015) 207 LGERA 397. Successful defence of prosecution for carrying out development without consent. Concerned existing use rights and statutory interpretation.

RMS v Allandale Blue Metal [2015] NSWCA 167. Stay application in NSW court of appeal. Read More

Sertari v Quakers Hill [2014] NSWCA 338 CA. concerned the interrelationship between private (easement) law and public (Planning) law.

Australia Skydive Pty Ltd v Wyong Council [2014] NSWLEC 185. Concerned judicial review and constitutional issues around control of airspace and planning law. Read More

Watpac Pty Ltd V City of Sydney [2014] NSWLEC 163. Concerned interaction between Access to Neighbouring Land Act and Local Government Act classification of land.

Brinara Pty Ltd v Gosford City Council (2010) 177 LGERA 296. Concerned existing use rights.

Barana Pty Ltd v City of Sydney [2007] NSWLEC 812. Concerned statutory interpretation of transitional provisions in planning instruments.

Moore v Corowa Shire Council [2009) NSWLEC 113. Interaction between development and public authority works, and environmental law.



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