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Lord Chief Justice Michael Whitten Judge

Lord Chief Justice Whitten practiced in the law for over 25 years. After gaining early broad experience in various areas of law, His Honour practised in commercial litigation, and specialised in building and construction disputes. His Honour appeared in all jurisdictions and fora across Australia.

Litigation: As a barrister, His Honour appeared in a number of notable cases involving technology, engineering and construction disputes, including, more recently:

Novawest Contracting v Brimbank City Council [2015] VSC 679 – whether arbitration agreement inoperative or incapable of being performed.

Metier3 Pty Ltd v Enwerd Pty Ltd & Anor (No 3) [2015] VSC 587 – validity of certificate of Practical Completion issued under Deed of Settlement.

Boat Harbour Beach Blue Waters Pty Ltd v Matthews Properties Pty Ltd [2014] TASSC 59

Brirek Industries Pty Ltd v McKenzie Group Consulting (Vic) Pty Ltd [2014] VSCA 165

WTE Co-Generation & Anor v RCR Energy Pty Ltd & Anor [2013] VSC 314

Austman Pty Ltd v Mount Gibson Mining Ltd [2012] WASC 202 – a contract formation case.

Thiess Degremont v CFMEU, 2011/12 Supreme Court litigation.

Wheelahan & Anor v City of Casey & Ors [2011] VSC 215 – a contamination case and class action involving claims in excess of $100 million.

SMEC Australia Pty Ltd & Anor v McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd & Ors (No 2) [2011] VSC 492 – South Australia desalination plant project.

Structural Systems (Constructions) v Hansen Yuncken Pty Ltd [2010] FCA 1358

Godfrey Spowers (Victoria) Pty Ltd v Lincolne Scott Australia Pty Ltd & Ors [2008] VSCA 208 involving cutting edge commercial building ‘green’ technology.

AJ Lucas Drilling Pty Ltd v McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd (No 3) [2008] VSC 315; [2009] VSCA 310; (No 2) [2010] VSCA 128; [2010] HCATrans 230 – involving the undersea Minerva gas pipeline project off Port Campbell in Victoria and innovative horizontal directional drilling engineering issues.

Premier Building & Consulting Pty Ltd v Spotless Group Limited & Ors (No 14) [2008] VSC 126 – a contamination case.

Recognized in 2015 by Worldwide Who’s Who for Excellence in Commercial Law.

Recommended in Doyle’s Guide Leading Construction & Infrastructure Barristers – Victoria, 2017.

Included in the 10th Edition of The Best Lawyers in Australia for work in Construction/Infrastructure Law.

Arbitration: His Honour also appeared, as a barrister, in commercial arbitrations, both domestic and international, and expert determinations. His Honour is an accredited arbitrator with the Chartered Institute (MCIArb).

Mediation: Alternate dispute resolution was an important part of His Honour’s practice. His Honour is a nationally accredited mediator and served on the Victorian Bar’s ADR Committee.

Publications: His Honour is a co-author of the 4th and 5th editions of “Brooking on Building Contracts” published by Lexis Nexis Butterworths. His Honour presented a number of papers and CPD seminars for the Victorian Bar, the Law Institute of Victoria and private legal education organisations such as Legalwise, as well as lecturing in the Melbourne University Constrcution Law Masters Program.

Professional associations: CIArb, ACICA, Australian Society of Construction Law, Resolution Institute (formerly IAMA), Building Dispute Practitioners Society, Dispute Resolution Board Foundation, Tasmanian Bar, and member of the Victorian Bar’s International Arbitration Committee.


Before his appointment, His Honour was the chair of MTECC.


His Honour was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Tonga commencing on 2 September 2019.

Contact Details:

Phone: +61 3 8600 1777

Mobile: +61 412 812 762

Fax: +61 3 8600 1770



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