Bar Roll – 5 May 2016
Admitted – 24 February 2015

Phone – 03 9225 7324
Mobile – 0425 114 702
Email –
Chambers – Floor 2, Room 221, Owen Dixon Chambers West, 525 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne


Bar Roll –  5 May 2016
Admitted – 24 February 2015

Phone – 03 9225 7333
Mobile – 0425 114 702
Email –
Chambers – Floor 2, Room 221, Owen Dixon Chambers West, 525 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Area of Law

  • Administrative Law
  • Building and Construction Law (Incl Engineering)
  • Commercial Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Heritage Law
  • Land Acquisition/Valuation/Compensation
  • Local Government
  • Leases : Commercial and Retail Tenancies
  • Town Planning
  • Water and Drainage Law


Robert Forrester practices in commercial and public law, with particular focus on matters involving development and the environment.

His areas of expertise include:

  • planning: merits review of planning permit decisions, enforcement order proceedings and prosecutions, planning scheme amendments before Planning Panels Victoria and Advisory Committees, heritage registration and permit review hearings, and gaming and liquor licencing
  • administrative law and government: judicial review in State and federal courts, merits review in tribunals, advising government and agencies regarding the exercise of discretions and obligations, and tortious and statutory liability of public authorities
  • environmental law: obligations arising from and breaches of Victorian and Commonwealth environmental legislation, fisheries, energy and mining, and contaminated land
  • commercial law: property disputes, building and construction disputes, alternative dispute resolution, and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards
  • water law: entitlements and liability under the Water Act (Vic), transboundary pollution and use rights

Before he came to the Bar Robert worked in-house at an Austrian firm dealing with foreign litigation and arbitration then, after being admitted as an Australian lawyer, practised in planning, environmental and administrative law in Melbourne.

On coming to the Bar Robert read with Timothy McEvoy QC. His senior mentor is Stuart Morris QC.

Selected appearances

Fivex Pty Ltd v Melbourne CC (Red Dot) [2019] VCAT 138
Application for declarations and review of refusal to grant or extend permit in relation to erection and display of high wall signs within Melbourne CBD – lawfulness of erection pursuant to permit – estoppel of responsible authority – application for extension of permit (for the developer; led by Nicholas Tweedie SC)

Pacific Hydro Yaloak South Pty Ltd v Moorabool SC  [2019] VCAT 11
Permit conditions review – wind farm – regularity of environmental inspection and reporting obligations (for the responsible authority)

Surf Coast Shire Council v DP & JL Dunoon Pty Ltd & Anor [2018] VCAT 1551
Application for enforcement order – existence and extent of existing use rights – characterisation of use – identification of planning unit – lawfulness of earthworks and landscaping (for the respondent; led by Paul Connor QC)

Kinsale Group Pty Ltd v Boroondara CC [2018] VCAT 1368
Review of refusal to grant a permit for development of apartment building – Yarra River environs – impact on heritage fabric of neighbouring properties – access to visitor parking by car lift (for the developer; led by Nicholas Tweedie SC)

Cahir Investments Pty Ltd v Greater Geelong CC [2018] VCAT 1031
Review of refusal to grant a permit for development of apartment building – neighbourhood character – application of provisions of Geelong Planning Scheme prohibiting provision of private open space on balconies (for the developer)

Peet Craigieburn Pty Ltd v Hume CC [2018] VCAT 990
Review of refusal to grant a permit for subdivision of land identified in Precinct Structure Plan as reservoir protection mechanism – whether residential use of land ‘generally in accordance with’ PSP – impact of development on Greenvale Reservoir – creation of easements and restrictions (for the developer; led by Susan Brennan SC)

Morwell Power Station and Briquette Factories H8201 [2018] VHerCl 1
Heritage Council registration hearing – nomination of former Morwell Power Station and Briquette Factories for inclusion on the Register – relevance of questions of economic and reasonable use of the place to question of registration (for the owner; led by Nicholas Tweedie SC)

Knox C150 (PSA) [2017] PPV 29
Planning Scheme amendment – whether EPA landfill buffer policy should be reflected or repeated in Scheme – obligations of landowners and ‘polluter pays’ principle (led by Stuart Morris QC)

Melton C146 and C147 (PSA) [2017] PPV 17
Planning Scheme amendment – reservation of land as Growling Grass Frog conservation area – relevance of EPBC Act processes to planning – investigation of conservation value of land (led by Simon Molesworth QC, as his Honour then was)

United Cranes & Rigging Pty Ltd v Hall & Anor (Federal Court of Australia, VID484/2017)
Restraint of trade – crane and precast concrete industry – parallel proceedings in Federal Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court – resolved prior to trial (for the applicant, led by Anthony Young QC)

Preston Market Developments Pty Ltd v Darebin CC [2017] VCAT 1689
Review of refusal to grant a permit for the residential development of Preston Market – relevance of section 173 agreement to assessment of parking provision (for market landowner)

Loibl v Greater Geelong CC [2017] VCAT 1804
Review of special charge scheme – road construction – assessment of special benefit – whether proposed scheme reasonable (for the Council)

Social Housing Renewal Standing Advisory Committee Report 7 (AC) [2017] PPV 142
Advisory Committee – amendment enabling redevelopment of social housing – relevance of social impact assessment at strategic planning stage (for St Kilda Legal Service)

Hume C207 and 208 (PSA) [2017] PPV 138
Planning Scheme amendment – implementation of Precinct Structure Plan – whether land should be identified as for future residential development – relevance and reliability of PSP plans (for landowner)

Robert is an Associate of the Environmental Law Institute and of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

He is a member of institutions and committees including:

  • Victorian Planning and Environmental Law Association
  • Law Council of Australia Environment and Planning Law Group
  • Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law
  • International Law Association
  • Australian Institute of Administrative Law


Robert has authored articles and presented on environmental law, international environmental law, and international dispute settlement, and was a consultant expert in relation to Cambodia’s new Environment and Natural Resources Code. He has lectured in advocacy.