Our Expertise

Local Government & Water

Local government and water are a key focus area for Russell Kennedy with significant resources and personnel dedicated to our local government and water business clients.

Local Government Law and related fields are areas in which Russell Kennedy is a recognised industry leader that, works hard to build strong relationships and to provide mutual confidence and trust. 

We regularly visit our clients to understand firsthand their operating environments, now acting for over 40 of Victoria’s councils, with a particularly strong client base in regional centres and rural communities.

We have specialists in governance, planning law, environment law, administrative law and commercial, all focused on local government and water businesses with many lawyers in the team possessing complementary qualifications such as town planning, environmental engineering, heritage planning, forestry, geography and environmental science. Eleven Russell Kennedy lawyers are Law Institute of Victoria Accredited Specialists across property, local government and planning, and business law. Leading Principal Andrew Sherman was recognised as the 2014 Best Lawyers Melbourne Water Law "Lawyer of the Year".

Planning, environment and building

Our statutory planning advice and representation extends from basic residential and multi-unit development matters through to detailed planning and environmental issues including contaminated site redevelopment.

Our experience includes Environment Protection Authority (EPA) works approvals, licence approvals and research demonstration and development approvals in respect of landfills, composting facilities and prescribed industrial waste reuse.

Governance, administrative law and statutory interpretation

The local government sector in Victoria is almost permanently under the microscope as it is impacted by a myriad of legislation, policy, and social and economic factors. Russell Kennedy is making a difference to our local government clients representing their interests across all their organisational operations.

Russell Kennedy supports councils with delegations and authorisations to ensure that statutory procedures are appropriately carried out and powers are properly exercised. We act for councils in relation to special rate and charge schemes, assisting with reports to councils, and addressing councillors and local residents.

We advise on the application of National Competition Policy, including conducting local law audits, advising on the application of competitively neutral pricing principles to council operations, and advising industry bodies.

Property and leasing

Russell Kennedy delivers expert property (including leasing) solutions for local government clients.

We advise Councils on rates issues, acquisition and surrender of easements, rate recovery sales and purchases of land, and building for council purposes. We assist councils with compulsory acquisitions, including preparation of notices, planning scheme amendments and dispute representation in VCAT and the Supreme Court.

Contracts and commercial

Russell Kennedy advises councils on all issues relating to tenders and tender disputes. In particular, we advise on the application of the Local Government Act, the Trade Practices Act, the Fair Trading Act, Commonwealth and State Government tendering requirements, procedural fairness and tender contracts.

We have experience in joint ventures, franchising, licensing and novation.

Our broad skills base allows prompt and cost effective use of our in house resources, particularly valuable in urgent situations. 


Russell Kennedy assists councils with all matters relating to building and construction projects. We are familiar with project structures, the preparation and review of contracts for architects, project managers, consultants and builders.

We advise on contract administration issues and assist in the resolution of disputes. We have prepared standard form construction tender and contract documentation.

Employment, industrial relations and equal opportunity

Our aim in the employment and industrial relations sector is to work collaboratively with councils to provide practical and outcome focussed solutions to help them manage all aspects of employment and industrial relations.

We draft and interpret employment contracts, enterprise agreements and workplace policies for numerous councils across Victoria.

Our team frequently conducts workplace investigations and negotiations with unions, as well as representing councils in legal proceedings.

Risk management and insurance

Assisting councils with risk management strategies in relation to occupational health and safety, third party claims, insurance claims and indemnity arrangements, inquests and environmental management plans. We can advise councils on insurance matters, particularly public liability claims.

Public law, freedom of information and privacy

We are skilled in matters relating to freedom of information and privacy. Russell Kennedy provides advice across the spectrum of non-judicial decision making processes, including disciplinary and professional standards reviews, and assisting clients with the development of policies and procedures. We also assist clients to prepare compliance manuals and conduct training for personnel to minimise the risk of non-compliance.

Finance and securities

Russell Kennedy supports councils when they become involved in property and finance projects where funding structures, securities and finance documentation advice is required or securities are offered by ratepayers or contracting parties to secure obligations.

Our experience includes a broad range of services that protect the commercial, taxation, asset, enforcement and enterprise interests of councils.

Dispute resolution and enforcement

Russell Kennedy’s disputes team is committed to resolving disputes in efficient and cost effective ways that produce pragmatic and acceptable outcomes for clients.

By focussing on the needs of our clients, we often resolve disputes before the need for litigation and arbitration arises.

We manage cases of great complexity, including lengthy hearings before VCAT and legal challenges in the Supreme Court. Our lawyers have extensive advocacy experience and will, where appropriate, represent local government personally in courts and tribunals.


Named 2017 Global Law Experts Annual Awards Winner

Named 2017 Global Law Experts Client Choice - Local Government Law Firm of the Year Australia

2017 GLE ANNUAL AWARDS WINNERGlobal Law Experts 2017 Local Govt   LGPro 2018 19 Logo