Robert WhiteCONTACT DETAILS
Phone: (+61)(02) 8029 6342
Fax: (+61)(02) 9221 7183
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Barrister (NSW): 2010
Solicitor (NSW): 2005
LLB (Hons) (LSE; London School of Economics and Political Science: 2:1)
- Land and Environment, including civil enforcement, compensation claims, land valuation, criminal prosecution, climate change, judicial review and merits appeals
- Consumer law, including class actions
Prior to moving to Australia in 2009, Robert practised as a barrister in England for over 10 years, where he specialised in environmental and town planning law.
At the NSW Bar Robert practises in the fields of land and environment, compulsory acquisition and consumer law (including class actions).
Robert is an experienced environmental law barrister. He practises in all areas of the Land and Environment Court jurisdiction, including civil enforcement, land acquisition and compensation, land valuation, judicial review, class 5 prosecutions, climate change, class 1 merits appeals, local government and class 8 mining cases.
He has an interest in climate change litigation, acting in coastal erosion cases, and in matters involving large fossil fuel and renewable energy projects. In 2020 Robert has been instructed by the Wilderness Society in judicial review proceedings in the Federal Court challenging the grant of oil exploration rights to Equinor in the Great Australian Bight, and in 2018 Robert acted for a community group opposing a coal mine in the Gloucester Valley, in which Preston CJ refused development for the mine on climate change grounds. Also in 2020, Robert was instructed to appear for Lock the Gate before the IPC at the Vickery Coal Mine Extension Project public hearing and for North West Alliance at the Narribri Gas Project public hearing before the IPC.
Robert prosecutes for councils and for the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) in respect of prosecutions under the Water Management Act. In 2020 he is involved in two such prosecutions for NRAR.
He is also experienced in compulsory acquisition and land valuation law. Robert regularly appears in Class 3 of the Court's jurisdiction, and in the Court of Appeal, in compensation and land valuation cases, for both dispossessed landowners, and on behalf of the acquiring authority and the Valuer General. In 2019 he was instructed in Class 3 compensation proceedings by the Native Title Solicitors Corporation on behalf of the Bandjalang people, who have native title determination over land in northern NSW. In a first case of its kind in the Land and Environment Court, the RTA acquired Bandjalang land for road widening and the Bandjalang people sought compensation for cultural loss, following the decision of the High Court in the Timber Creek case  HCA 7. The case successfully settled at a s 34 conference.
Robert is a committee member of EPLA, having joined the committee in 2019.
Robert also practices in the field of consumer law (including class actions). He was instructed for the plaintiffs in the Volkswagen and Audi 'Dieselgate' class actions in the Federal Court. Robert was also instructed by the ACCC in Federal Court proceedings against a number of educational colleges which have allegedly engaged in unconscionable conduct across Australia.
Notable recent cases in the Land & Environment Court
Burwood Council v Lilli  NSWLEC 15
Boomerang and Blueys Residents Group Inc v New South Wales Minister for the Environment NSWLEC 202 – acting for landowners at Boomerang & Blueys beaches in judicial review proceedings seeking to quash the Mid Coast Council Coastal Zone Management Plan
Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning  NSWLEC 7 – acted for community group Groundswell Gloucester in a Class 1 merits appeal before Preston CJ opposing an open cut coal mine. In a first in Australia, Groundswell Gloucester successfully argued that the mine should be refused development consent because of its contribution to climate change impacts
RebelMH Neutral Bay Pty Ltd v North Sydney Council  NSWCA 130 – acted for council in Court of Appeal proceedings concerning the proper construction of clause 4.6 of the standard LEP
Ralph Lauren Pty Ltd v New South Wales Transitional Coastal Panel  NSWLEC 207 – acted for landowners at Belongil Beach Shire, in a Class 1 appeal before Preston CJ seeking development consent for the maintenance and repair of sea walls
Olefines Pty Ltd v Valuer General of New South Wales  NSWCA 265 – acted for Valuer General in land valuation proceedings involving the construction of s 6A(2) of the Valuation of Land Act
Valuer General of New South Wales v Oriental Bar Pty Ltd  NSWCA 48 – appeal involving interpretation of s 14G of the Valuation of Land Act (acted for Valuer General)
Hunter Environment Lobby Inc v Minister for Planning and Infrastructure (No 2)  NSWLEC 129 – acting for community groups in Class 1 merits appeal opposed to new open cut coal mine in the Hunter Valley
Warkworth Mining Ltd v Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association (2014) 86 NSWLR 527
Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association Inc v Minister for Planning and Warkworth Mining Limited  NSWLEC 48 – Robert acted for the successful Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association in the landmark Warkworth case, in which the Chief Judge of the Land & Environment Court, following a 3 week merits appeal, refused development consent for an extension to the open cut coal mine at Warkworth-Mount Thorley.