Metropolitan Fire Brigade v City of Yarra (2011-2017)

Landmark environmental case concerning claims for clean up costs concerning remediation of toxic waste abandoned on former industrial land. Lead counsel for plaintiff MFB at trial, on appeal and in the High Court.

The MFB occupied polluted land and was required to clean up toxic waste abandoned on site decades before by the Richmond City Council, later the City of Yarra, a prior occupier of the land. The MFB was successful in obtaining orders requiring the City of Yarra to pay the costs of the clean up with a trial on the quantum of damages to follow.

The judgment at first instance was upheld on appeal and special leave to the High Court has been refused. The quantum trial is progressing. 

The case follows on the decision of Spotless, and considers the provisions of the Environment Protection Act concerning the abandonment of pollution. 

The appeal considered for the first time a number of key provisions of the Environment Protection Act concerning recovery of compensation from a polluter. The case also considered the effect of the amalgamation of municipal councils on liability of the new entity. 

See judgment on appeal and case notes

Murrindindi Black Saturday bush fires class action (2013-2015)


Led the legal team representing the plaintiff class, instructed by Maurice Blackburn representing victims of the 2009 Victorian Black Saturday bush fires in Rowe v Ausnet Electricity Services & Ors (formerly Liesfield v SP Ausnet) Supreme Court of Victoria.

The class action in the Supreme Court of Victoria sought damages resulting from the Murrindindi bush fires that killed 40 individuals and destroyed property and businesses. Claims by the class were for personal injuries, dependency claims, property and economic loss and property damage.

The case concerned the cause of the fires including the operation and maintenance of electricity transmission assets by Ausnet and its inspection consultants and the failure of State parties to warn communities of the progress of the fires.

The parties agreed to settle on 6 February 2015 for the sum of $300M. The application for the Court’s approval of the Murrindindi bushfire class action settlement was heard before Justice Emerton on 13 and 14 May 2015, with her Honour approving the settlement application on 27 May 2015.

See media release

Wheelahan & Ors. v City of Casey - Casey landfill case

Class action and recovery claim for remediation of methane leaching landfill in Victorian Supreme Court. The leaching led to the evacuation of a Melbourne suburb, Brookland Greens and claims against the landfill operator, the Environment Protection Authority and others.

Led the team for the defendant, Frankston City Council defending claims by the City of Casey for a contribution to the costs, past and future of remediation of an unlined landfill. 

Casey claimed past and future costs exceeding $200M.