Advocacy skill and expertise
Robert is a highly experienced and accomplished trial lawyer he practises in the Federal and Supreme Courts and tribunals. He accepts briefs in lower courts if that will bring the desired result. He has appeared many times in the Victorian Civil and Administration tribunal with respect to a range of matters concerning FOI ,and planning disputes and compensation determinations.
Robert is a commercial barrister specialising in intellectual Property. As a consequence of his highly regarded texts and appearances he is recognised as Australia’s and New Zealand’s leading authority on the protection of, confidential information and Restraint of trade – all part of his Service on Trade Secrets and Privacy and his text on Restraint of Trade.
He is in demand on these and related matters such as restraint of trade covenants, trade practices and consumer statutory disputes, he has experience in disputes concerning computer software, commercial goodwill, private information, company law and other areas of commercial law such as contract and fiduciary duties arising from employee / employer, director / corporate, professional / partnership and joint ventures relationships.
Consequently he practises in his home State of Victoria and throughout Australia as both junior and senior advocate with chambers in Melbourne. He is in the process of securing chambers in Sydney.
While his texts have received acclaim, he is first and last a highly experienced advocate and his skills were developed as he rose through the courts over many years and during a period debating bills in Parliament. He is an experienced trial lawyer.
In addition, given the fragile and complex nature of his speciality especially cases concerning ‘Restraint of Trade covenants’ and complex factual disputes concerning the conduct of employees, his capacity to settle cases in difficult circumstances has been tested many times. Cases in which Robert has appeared are referred to below under the heading “Cases”.
His expertise extends to the prevention of the disclosure and use of confidential information. Robert has an extensive practise and expertise in applying for interlocutory injunctions. Where the dissemination or misuse of information is at stake, decisive action in the courts must be taken without delay before the proceeding becomes of no consequence because the information is no longer confidential.
These interlocutory injunctions which often decide the case, must be bought swiftly according to the complex principle applying to such injunctions where advocacy meets judicial discretion and his skills of confident persuasion become essential.
Robert has maintained an interest in the promotion of Aboriginal Affairs since Secondary College where he chaired the Secondary Schools Aboriginal Affairs Fund SAAF committee. When he entered politics he maintained his interest in Indigenous Affairs through the Opposition Aboriginal Affairs Portfolio.
He invited to Parliament House headmasters and mistresses of all the Victorian private and government schools which achieve a high proportion of tertiary places. The purposes was to set up an indigenous education programme. The programme consisted of 3 parts, the free education of indigenous students at these schools, a contribution by government to all extra school expenses and the contribution by local indigenous entities to the pastoral care and further indigenous education for those students. He left parliament before the programme was completed but it was instrumental in a large number of these schools enrolling indigenous students.
Robert published an article in The Age with respect to indigenous education which has led to interest to investigate the viability of such a programme on an Australian wide basis.
Roberts position as the leading authority on the protection of confidential information and his expertise in all its attendant causes of action makes his commercial practice unique. Whether it is his extensive writing while also operating his full practice as a barrister, or his extensive practice over many causes of action and types of proceedings, he has developed the skills of an accomplished advocate and barrister namely, confidence , stamina, hard work, comprehensive preparation and an understanding of the law and facts in any proceeding.
Ten years ago Robert spent a considerable period of time as parliamentary secretary to the Victorian Attorney and as Shadow Attorney General. He was responsible for overseeing the drafting and amending of over 100 new Bills ranging from the Credit Act, the Corporations Law, the establishment of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Tenancy Legislation and many other areas of new and amended legislation.
This experience enabled Robert to obtain a unique insight into the interpretation of legislation pursuant to the principles set out in Pearce which dictated the governments drafting and he gained invaluable behind the scenes experience in the creation of legislation. Robert used the opportunity to liaise with many legal institutions such as the Victoria Bar Counsel and the Law Institute of Victoria futher broadening his understanding of legal policy which is a large part of the development of restraint of trade law and confidential infomatonas it affects privacy.
It has taken dedication while practising as a barrister to also write the various texts referred to under Texts & Publications above but in doing so Robert has been seen as highly accomplished in the areas of Intellectual Property, Restraint of Trade alongside general commercial law. Importantly he has the skill and perseverance to take on large time consuming proceedings with many complex parts.
His recognised skill in protection information extends to protecting private information and the developing law of Privacy.
In his last year at Pembroke College Cambridge Robert became President of the Graduate Parlour and as a consequence was required to organise and administer graduate activities, speak at the many Graduate dinners and organise the extra curricular and social functions of the Graduates at Pembroke. Robert obtained a great deal of experience as a speaker on behalf of the Graduates in his year as President.
Southlink Holdings Pty Ltd v Morevand Pty Ltd (comercial, contract s52 )
Sadhir v PHC (Doctor fiduciary relationship, confidential information s52)
Centre Stage Management Pty Ltd v Riedle (Copyright, fiduciary relationship)
Edwards v Liquid Engineering Pty Ltd (Trade Mark, Copyright)
Gawn v Thompson (company, contract, joint venture ,settlement)
Status Pty Ltd v 360 Gearbox Pty Ltd (Trade Mark s52)
Tan v Britax Pty Ltd (Trade Mark, Copyright , contract settlement)
Gary Morgan v Moron Logging Pty Ltd (planning)
Save the Valley v Ready-mix (planning)
Transien Pty Ltd v VFR Pty Ltd (Commercial contract, joint venture)
Occidental Life Insurance Co of Australia Ltd v Bank of Melbourne Ltd (commercial, company law, trusts, contract)
APM Pty Ltd v Trade Practice Commission, Smorgons Pty Ltd and Visy Pty Ltd (Trade Practices, commercial)
Flick v Pemberton (Anton Pillar Order, restraint of Trade, confidential information)
Drake Australia Pty Ltd v Long (restraint of trade, confidential information, fiduciary duty)
Transpacific Pty Ltd v Whelan (restraint of trade, confidential information, contract, employer/employee fiduciary duty)
Logan Moulders Pty Ltd v Stuart Hollindale (restraint of trade, fiduciary duty, contract –settlement)
Pinnacle v Mint Pty Ltd & ors (restraint of trade, contract, commercial)
Robert is requested by solicitors and legal associations to speak on various topics in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and subject to his practice commitments is happy to accept such invitations. He is about to undertake a speaking tour for his publisher in Darwin, Perth and Hobart, particularly on privacy, trade secrets, fiduciary duties, and restraint of trade covenants based on his extensive practice and his publications. Demand for these lectures and seminars is a consequence of his reputation as Australia’s leading authority on the protection of confidential information whether through law of Breach of Confidence, breach of fiduciary duty , contract or Restraint of Trade.
He holds seminars on these topics with various major solicitors firms and advises companies generally on the validity of their ‘Restraint of Trade’ clauses.
His texts now include a loose leaf service entitled Trade Secrets (Volume 1) and Privacy (Volume 2).
Mediation and Arbitration
Robert is a mediator, arbitrator and an advocate.
He has qualifications and experience in mediator and arbitration both as mediator arbitrator and advocate. He holds qualifications from Bond University in mediation and from Adelaide University in arbitration. He is a member of Arbitration chambers.
As noted above, while practising as a barrister, Robert also written the various texts referred to in Books and publications but in doing so he has been seen as highly accomplished in the areas of Intellectual property, restraint of trade and general commercial law.
That experience has provided him with the capacity to provide opinions and submissions in an erudite and efficient way which enables him to provide cogent advise to instructing solicitors and their clients isolating the central facts and legal arguments in any set of circumstances.
Given his publication on ‘Restraint of Trade’ he is called upon to guide corporates and solicitors in the drafting of those clauses which are crucial to the protection of knowledge and which are so important to the client and so often declared invalid because of inexperienced drafting.
“Since 2017 he has worked as in-house counsel for a commercial property company”