Full Name: Mr Jonathan D Forbes
Phone: +61 3 9225 6984
Chambers: Aickin Chambers
Room: 1607
Date of Admission: 2 Dec 1985
Called to the Bar: 20 Nov 2003
Accredited as Mediator: 16 Feb 2006
Qualifications: B.Ec., LL.B., MBA


Jonathan has been providing strategic workplace relations and employment law advice to leading employers for nearly three decades.

He is currently ranked by peer-reviewed publications “Chambers & Partners Asia-Pacific 2017”, “Doyle’s Guide” and “Best Lawyers” as among Australia’s leading industrial relations and employment law counsel.

Before joining the Bar in 2003 (where he read with Tim Ginnane, now Justice Ginnane of the Victorian Supreme Court), Jonathan was a partner and board member at global law firm Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills). During his 17 years at Freehills he advised many of Australia's most significant public and private sector employers and industry associations across all aspects of employment law and industrial relations.

Jonathan acts for Australian and multi-national corporations, employer associations and agencies at all levels of government. His clients have included employers across every major industry sector including automotive, energy and resources, banking and financial services, airlines, building and construction, IT and telecommunications, education, health, manufacturing and retail.

Jonathan acts in all matters pertaining to workplace relations and employment law including:

  • all types of proceeding under the Fair Work Act 2009 (including enterprise bargaining, industrial disputes and registered organisations governance issues),
  • dismissals and workplace disputes,
  • adverse action claims,
  • agreement breach prosecutions,
  • complex senior executive contract disputes,
  • post-employment restraints and confidentiality agreements,
  • discrimination claims under state and federal legislation and disciplinary tribunals.

Jonathan has appeared as sole counsel and with the leading employer silks in industrial disputes, employment litigation and appeals in courts and tribunals across Australia, including some of the most important and well-known cases in the field. Recent cases include (for list of selected cases, please refer to the Cases tab above):

  • Health Services Union v Dorevitch Pathology [2017] FCA 1200
  • Pearse v Viva Energy Refining Pty Ltd [2017] FWC 3817, [2017] FWCFB 4710
  • Australian Building & Construction Commission v CFMEU (Perth Childrens’ Hospital case) [2017] FCA 491
  • Director, Fair Work Building Industry Commission v CFMEU (Webb Dock case) [2017] FCA 62
  • Australian Federal Police Association v Australian Federal Police [2017] FWC 2380
  • Hemmingson v Note Printing Australia Limited [2017] FWC 3036
  • Dept Immigration and Border Protection v CPSU [2017] FWC 3246
  • Annett-Sommerville v Monash Health  [2016] FCA 1451
  • Director, Fair Work Building Industry Commission v CFMEU (Park & Ride case) [2016] FCA 525
  • Ward v St Catherines’ School [2016] FCA 790
  • Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services & Retail Award 4 Year Review [2016] FWCFB 4418
  • Purcell v Farah & Mercy Education Limited [2016] FWC 2308
  • Martogg Pty Ltd v Australian Workers’ Union [2016] FWC 6473
  • National Tertiary Education Industry Union v Navitas Limited [2016] FWC 3209
  • Melbourne Stadiums Limited v Sautner (2015) 229 FCR 221
  • United Firefighters’ Union v Country Fire Authority (2015) 228 FCR 497
  • Toyota Motor Corporation Aust v Mamara & ors (2014) 222 FCR 152

Jonathan has an MBA and is highly regarded for his practical understanding of client business issues and his commercial approach to problem solving. He is particularly skilled at early-stage intervention and can assist businesses to strategically navigate complex workplace issues, avoiding conflict and litigation where possible. 

In addition to his workplace expertise, Jonathan has significant experience and knowledge of the sports industry and the legal issues affecting event management, sponsorship, brand licensing and broadcasting. He has advised numerous sponsors, sports federations, event owners, athletes and agents on a broad range of litigious and non-litigious issues.

Jonathan is an experienced decision-maker and has presided over numerous disciplinary tribunals and incident investigations.

Jonathan is currently a member of the Australian Motor Sport Appeal Court. He has served as Chairman of the Swimming Australia Integrity Panel and as a member of the Football Federation Victoria appeal tribunal.

Areas of Practice

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Commercial Law

  • Competition Law & Consumer Law
  • Intellectual Property & Trade Practices

Common Law


Industrial Relations Law & Employment Law

  • Employment Contracts
  • Industrial Disputes
  • Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S)

Public Law & Administrative Law

  • Disciplinary Proceedings
  • Discrimination & Equal Opportunity
  • Judicial Review
  • Merits Review
From 1 Jul 2008, liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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