Dr Michelle Sharpe is a barrister, and a member of the Victorian Bar and New South Wales Bar, practicing primarily in the area of general commercial and regulatory law specialising in contract and consumer protection law. She has appeared both for and against regulators and businesses both large and small. She regularly appears in all jurisdictions in Victoria and in the Federal Court and New South Wales Supreme Court.
In November 2018 Michelle was named 'Barrister of the Year' in the Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards. In 2021 Michelle elected as the Convenor of the Women Barristers Association, and was ranked by Best Lawyers in the area of commercial law.
Michelle is the author of Unconscionable Conduct in Australian Commercial and Consumer Contracts published by LexisNexis in August 2018. She has also published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters in the areas of consumer protection and legal ethics. Recent articles include: "ASIC v Kobelt: a consumer protection blackout?" (2019) 27 Australian Journal of Competition and Consumer Law 283 and “More Than a Feeling: Finding Statutory Unconscionable Conduct” (2019) 27 Australian Journal of Competition and Consumer Law 108. She also writes for a column, in the Law Institute Journal and the Law Society of New South Wales Journal,reporting on recent cases in the High Court of Australia. She holds a first class honours degree from the University of Adelaide and a PhD from the University of Melbourne.
In 2006 she was a founding member of the Victorian Bar's Health and Wellbeing Committee and was involved in establishing a wellbeing program which included a 24/7 counselling service for barristers. This program was a finalist for the Australian Psychological Society Health and Wellbeing Award for 2015.
Outside of the law, Michelle is passionate about empowering girls and is an advisor for Empower Girl.
Michelle has had 4 readers: Sally Whiteman, Anastasia Smietanka, Christie Jones and Amanda Storey.
Some recent cases of note in which Michelle has appeared include:
- Environment Protection Authority v Bristow - sole counsel representing the accused, a director of company, charged with offences under the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic) in respect of alleged pollution of waterways said to have occurred as a consequence of a large fire at a Campbellfield factory. Charges withdrawn on director's death in August 2020.
- Rachelle v Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd - sole counsel for Applicants claiming compensation for damage alleged to have been caused by Coles' predatory pricing of tobacco products. Claim settled in July 2020.
- Winau Aust Pty Ltd & Ors v LLC Property Development & Ors  NSWSC 434 - appeared alone for mortgagor and was successful in arguing that a mortgage, obtained by a fraudster, did not secure money given to fraudster.
- I Cook Foods Pty Ltd v State of Victoria (Department of Health and Human Services)  VSC 39 - appeared for food business in successful application for preliminary discovery by the Department.
- Department of Health and Human Services v Capitol South Yarra (December 2019) - appeared alone for registered proprietor of property on which a large apartment building was being built. Registered proprietor was charged under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 for failing to register a cooling tower that was commissioned by the builder without its knowledge. Charges were found to be proven and were dismissed without conviction or a penalty or a costs order.
- City of Greater Dandenong v I Cook Foods (November 2019) - appeared alone for the food business and director each charged with 48 offences under the Food Act 1984 and was successful in persuading council to drop all charges.
- Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation & Financial Services Industry - provided advice to and assisted an industry association in the preparation of written submissions.
- An international commercial arbitration under the UNICTRAL Arbitration Rules in respect of the sale of a large agricultural business (led by Michael Heaton QC)
- Consumer Affairs Victoria v Hoskins (Maroondah) Pty Ltd & Peters  FCA 1973 - sole counsel for regulator in Federal Court proceedings against real estate agency for false or misleading statements in underquoting properties and unconscionable conduct in all the circumstances in respect of incentive commission.
- Legal Services Commissioner v Logan  VCAT 375 - sole counsel for regulator in disciplinary proceedings against solicitor found guilty of misconduct for, among other things, acting without instructions.
- ACCC v Medibank Private Limited  FCA 1006 and appeal - led by Lachlan Armstrong QC in Federal Court proceedings against Medibank for mfalse or misleading statements made in respect of cover for in-hospital diagnostic services and unconscionable conduct .
- Consumer Affairs Victoria v Melbourne South Eastern Real Estate trading as Barry Plant Mount Waverley  FCA 1763 - sole counsel for regulator in Federal Court proceedings against a real estate agency for false or misleading statements in underquoting of properties.
- Consumer Affairs Victoria v Melbourne South Eastern Real Estate Pty Ltd trading as Hocking Stuart Doncaster & Ors  FCA 1448 - sole counsel for the regulator in Federal Court proceedings against a real estate agency for misleading and deceptive conduct in engaging in underquoting of properties and against two directors of the agency for being knowingly involved.
- Legal Services Commissioner v O'Brien  VCAT 1064 - sole counsel for regulator in disciplinary proceedings against a solicitor who signed withdrawals of caveat without instructions. The Tribunal ordered the solicitor to pay a fine of $45,000, together with the Commissioner's costs fixed at $30,000, and a suspension of the solicitor's practicing certificate of 9 months (suspended for 2 years).
- R v Witt  VSC 19 - co-counsel in private prosecution of a solicitor for conetmpt of court
- Body in Balance Chiropractic Pty Ltd v Jambere Pty Ltd & Ors  VCC 1835 - sole counsel for plaintiff in a County Court claim for specific performance of a sale of business contract, alternatively damages.
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards legislation. The information referred to above has been supplied by the barrister concerned. Neither Victorian Bar Inc nor the barrister's clerk have independently verified the accuracy or completeness of the information and neither accepts any responsibility in that regard.
PH +61 3 +61 3 9225 8722
Email [email protected]
Chambers: Room 0607
Owen Dixon Chambers East
205 William Street
Banking & Finance
Building Law & Construction Law
Competition Law & Consumer Law
Corporations Law & Securities Law
Insurance Law & Professional Negligence Law
Property & Probate
Competition Law & Consumer Law
Restraint of Trade
Equity & Trusts
Wills & Probate
Inquests, Inquiries, Tribunals & Commissions
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
Public Law & Administrative Law
Admitted to the Legal Profession:
12 Jul 2000
Signed Victorian Bar Roll:
21 Nov 2002
BA (juris) LLB (first class hons) PhD
Also Entitled to Practise in
All Australian States and Jurisdictions
Category A: Eleven counsel who are Queen's Counsel, Senior Counsel or junior counsel of not less than fifteen years standing
Clerking System Review Working Group
Equality & Diversity Committee
Equality and Diversity Policy Working Group
Health and Wellbeing Committee
Legal Aid Working Group
Peer Support Barristers
Women Barristers' Association