Robert Johnston Partner

Meet Robert

Robert is one of Australia's leading commercial litigation lawyers specialising in large scale, complex disputes and class actions.

In the last 25 years, Robert has been involved in many of Australia’s most high profile commercial cases including directors' and officers' liability, auditor and other professional indemnity claims, trustee cases, regulatory proceedings, insolvency matters including the multi-billion dollar major infrastructure project “traffic forecasting” cases and more recently many of the significant shareholders' class actions.

In this time, Robert has dealt extensively with regulators including ASIC, APRA, the ACCC and the ASX represented clients and also has strong  Royal Commissions and other major enquiries experience.

Robert has been involved in class actions in Australia since the regime was introduced and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading lawyers in that field. He defended AMP in the first major shareholder class action, defended Permanent Trustee in ASIC’s first ever major class action and has been appointed by the Federal Court as an expert to assist the court in a ground-breaking appeal involving contingency fees.

Robert is also a recognised insurance expert advising on policy wordings and recoveries.

Robert is endorsed by his peers as a leading expert in the areas of dispute resolution, class actions, insurance and reinsurance and professional malpractice negligence including in Legal Who’s Who, Chambers and Partners, Legal 500 Asia Pacific, Euromoney’s Expert Guides, Doyle’s and Best Lawyers. He is regarded as “'strategic and approachable”, a lawyer who “really looks after his clients” with an “outstanding level of personal service”. Clients say Robert Johnston stands out for his mastery of the class action discipline with one interviewee describing him as "good in the class action space and right across it" while another identifies his presence as one of the key reasons for using the practice.


Class actions


Acting in the defence of 3 shareholder class actions involving continuous disclosure breaches and audit negligence claims.

Dick Smith Class Action

Acting for institutions in a $300M shareholder class action.

Federal Court

Personally appointed by the President of the Federal Court as an expert to assist the court in a significant class action.

RiverCity class action

Acting in defence of the $250 million IPO shareholder class action which included claims against AECOM’s traffic forecasts.

Pan Pharmaceutical

Advising on the class action against Commonwealth and company arising from TGA decision to cancel licenses including the claims resolution process.

MFS PIF Class Action

Acting for class action claimants in a $300 million collapsed property trust claim against auditors.

Aristocrat shareholders’ class action

Acting for the litigation funder in this seminal class action securities claim.


Hayne Royal Commission

Acting for ASIC and one of its commissioners.

AIG Insurance

Seeking indemnity under a $300 million D & O policy with securities claims extension in an international arbitration in Amsterdam.

Octaviar litigation

Acting for liquidators in their $275 million claims against the auditors.

BrisConnect litigation

Acting for a party involved in ARUP’s allegedly deficient traffic forecasts in the bank lenders’ $2 billion claim.

Lane Cove Tunnel claim

Acting in defence of AMP’s $150 million claims of negligence made against the major traffic forecaster, Parsons Brinkerhoff traffic forecasting.

Jackson James Hardie Enquiry

Advising compensation fund trustees at enquiry.

Storm Financial

Representing major bank’s witnesses in ASIC enquiries and subsequent litigation.

Opes Prime

Advising insurers in relation to various claims against the stock-brokers and bankers.


Acting in defence of the then largest ever class action.


Advising Rich against ASIC.


Ranked as a leading individual in dispute resolution: class actions and litigation
Asia Pacific Legal 500, 2021
‘Robert Johnston is the epitome of a professional. He is confident, intelligent, articulate, and provides the client with absolute confidence in his strategy and abilities. He has a unique ability to simplify the complex and map out the litigation strategy with clarity'
Asia Pacific Legal 500, 2021
Dispute resolution partner of the year (finalist)
Lawyers Weekly, 2020
Ranked as a leading dispute resolution lawyer
Chambers Asia Pacific, 2019-2021
Listed as a leading lawyer in class action litigation
Best Lawyers, since 2013
Listed as a leading lawyer in litigation
Best Lawyers, since 2019
Listed as a leading lawyer in insurance law
Best Lawyers, since 2018
Recommended by Doyles Guide for commercial litigation & dispute resolution
Doyles Guide, 2020
Recognised as a recommended lawyer in dispute resolution
Asia Pacific Legal 500, 2018
Robert Johnston is described as "good in the class action space and right across it"
Chambers Asia-Pacific, 2020
Listed in insurance, reinsurance and professional malpractice
Legal Who's Who
Listed in insurance and reinsurance
Euromoney Expert Guide

Career & qualifications


  • Bachelor of Economics, University of Sydney
  • Bachelor of Laws, University of Sydney


  • Law Council of Australia - Class Action Executive Committee
  • International Bar Association - Vice Chair Consumer Litigation Committee
  • Australian Insurance Law Association
  • Australian Professional Indemnity Insurance Association
  • New South Wales Supreme Court Commercial List Users Group
  • Federal Court Class Action Users Group

Insights Read more insight

Curtains on class closure orders

The Federal Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of New South Wales look to have brought the practice of pre-settlement class closures to an end, at least for the time being.

Court puts funders’ conduct and expenses under the microscope

On 30 November 2020, Murphy J published his reasons for approving the $95 million settlement of the Spotless Group Holdings Ltd (Spotless) class action. As is the case with most judgements in this...

Funders may not have to provide security for costs in employee underpayment class actions

On 10 November 2020, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia overturned orders made by Justice Lee which required the litigation funder to provide security for costs in two class actions...