Michael Whitten WC Portrait

Hon Michael Whitten KC

Bar roll 1996 Silk 2015
  • Commercial Law
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The Hon Michael Whitten KC practises in civil and commercial litigation. He is the former Lord Chief Justice of Tonga.

For more than 30 years, he has appeared in courts, tribunals and arbitrations throughout Australia and overseas.

Between September 2019 and August 2023, Michael served in country as the Lord Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Tonga and President of the Tongan Court of Appeal. During that term, he heard and determined over 1,300 cases across all areas of law with over 300 judgments published and/or cited on PACLII.

Prior to moving to Tonga, Michael specialised in all aspects of building and construction disputes including associated insurance actions. He is a co-editor of the 4th, 5th and 6th editions of ‘Brooking on Building Contracts’. Alternate dispute resolution remains an important part of Michael's practice. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a nationally accredited mediator. He has served on the Victorian Bar's Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee and the Australian Bar Association’s International Arbitration Committee.

Michael is a founding member of Melbourne TEC (Technology, Engineering and Construction) Chambers, a group of specialist construction law barristers, arbitrators and mediators who practise throughout Australia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under the Professional Standards Legislation


Chambers & Clerk

Dawson Chambers
Room 41

405 Little Bourke St

Melbourne VIC 3000

View map

Jane King

03 9225 8558


Commercial Law
  • Appellate
  • Banking & Finance
  • Building & Construction
  • Class Actions
  • Commercial Arbitration
  • Consumer Law
  • Contractual Disputes
  • Energy & Resources
  • Insurance
  • Residential & Retail Tenancies



Bachelor of Commerce

Bachelor of Laws





Entitled to practise in

State and Territory Courts and Tribunals

Federal Court of Australia

High Court of Australia

Recent Cases

Commercial Law

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

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

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

Thiess Degremont v CFMEU, 2011/12 Supreme Court litigation

Marshall v Berndt [2011] VCC 384

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

Noonan v Owners Corporation No 2 PS 409115E and Anor [2011] VCAT 1934- an owners corporation case

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

Noonan v Owners Corporation No 2 PS 409115E and Anor [2011] VCAT 1934, presently on appeal to the Supreme Court

Solid Investments Australia Pty Ltd v Clifford & Anor [2010] VSCA 59

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

Kelleon Pty Ltd v Port of Portland Pty Ltd [2010] VCAT 129- a retail tenancy case

1144 Nepean Highway Pty Ltd v Leigh Mardon Australasia Pty Ltd[2009] VSC 317 and on appeal - 1144 Nepean Highway Pty Ltd v Abnote Australasia Pty Ltd [2009] VSCA 308

Munnich, Darren & Byron 14 Pty Ltd v Corsello Byron Bay Pty Ltd & Levin Byron Bay Pty Ltd [2009] VCC 556

Salta Constructions Pty Ltd v Solid Investments Australia Pty Ltd & Anor [2009] VCAT 464 - a multi million dollar complex in Geelong

McInnes Developments Pty Ltd v Detering [2009] VCAT 1185

A J Lucas Drilling Pty Ltd v McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd [2008] VSC 275 - involving the undersea Minerva gas pipeline project off Port Campbell in Victoria and innovative horizontal directional drilling engineering issues, which went to the High Court on a special leave application - AJ Lucas Drilling Pty Ltd v McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd [2010] HCATrans 230

Collie Planning & Development Pty Ltd v. Premier Building & Consulting Pty Ltd [2008] VSCA 146

Premier Building & Consulting Pty Ltd v Spotless Group Limited & Ors (No 14) [2008] VSC - a contamination case, which went on appeal to the court of appeal - Collie Planning & Development Pty Ltd v Premier Building & Consulting Pty Ltd [2008] VSCA 146

Godfrey Spowers (Victoria) Pty Ltd v Lincolne Scott Australia Pty Ltd & Ors [2008] VSC 90 - involving cutting edge commercial building 'green' technology

Kane Constructions Pty Ltd v. Sopov (No. 2) [2005] VSC 492

Australian International Insurance Ltd v. Graham [2005] VSC 183

Rejan Constructions Pty Ltd v. Manningham Medical Centre Pty Ltd [2002] VSC 579

Rofin v Permasteelisa, an arbitration in Hong Kong concerning in 2004 involving a 130,000-metre, 12,000-points of light, feature lighting system installed in the Cheung Kong Centre

Age Old Builders Pty Ltd v Swintons Pty Ltd [2001] VCAT 1967



Victorian Bar - Deputy Chair - International Arbitration Committee

Victorian Bar - Sustainability Committee

Building Dispute Practitioners Society

Australian Society of Construction Law