Michael Palfrey

Michael is the Joint Leader of the Australian Government Group and trusted legal adviser to the Commonwealth for 20 years.

Michael’s broad administrative law experience includes the provision of statutory interpretation and information law advice as well as assistance with legislative development. Michael also conducts investigations on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Michael’s administrative law practice involves advising Commonwealth regulators in sectors such as aged care, therapeutic goods, agricultural and veterinary products, motor vehicles and clean energy. This involves advice on the nature and scope of the regulators’ powers, assistance with the drafting of decisions and advice and representation in compliance matters. Michael’s practice extends to information law which involves regularly conducting Privacy Impact Assessments and advising Commonwealth clients on other privacy concerns and Freedom of Information requests.

Michael also has a strong litigation practice. He is a skilled advocate having represented and appeared for a range of Commonwealth clients over many years in merits and judicial review proceedings, as well as representing the Commonwealth in commercial claims brought against it.

Michael’s litigation experience includes managing, for many years, a high volume litigation practice for the Department of Home Affairs in AAT, Federal Circuit Court and Federal Court proceedings, as well as representing the Department of Health for a period of 20 years, in merits and judicial review proceedings involving challenges to aged care decisions. Additionally, Michael represents a range of clients in large scale merits review and judicial review matters, including for the Departments of Defence, Industry, Infrastructure, Health, Environment and Agriculture.

Michael has been named in Best LawyersTM Australia for Government Practice for the last six years.


Michael’s experience includes:

  • Minister for Immigration and Border Protection: Advising the Minister in hundreds of judicial review proceedings in the Federal Circuit, Federal and High Courts involving visa decisions made under the Migration Act (Cth) 1958;
  • Department of Health: Advising Health on the regulation of various aged care providers including representation in merits and judicial review proceedings involving the imposition of sanctions;
  • Minister for Defence: Representing Defence in various judicial and merits review proceedings as well as commercial disputes and providing broad ranging legal and strategy advice across a number of program areas;
  • Various Commonwealth agencies (Comcover): Represented the Commonwealth in a series of claims based in negligence, defamation, misfeasance and breach of privacy seeking damages in the District and Supreme Courts;
  • Various Commonwealth agencies (Regulatory): Providing statutory interpretation, legislative development and regulatory advice to a range of Commonwealth agencies; and
  • Various Commonwealth agencies (Information Law): Providing privacy advice including drafting Privacy Impact Assessments and advising on applications made under the Freedom of Information Act (Cth) 1992.

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