David Howlett

Professional Information

In the early 70's I started and completed an apprenticeship and worked in the printing industry. In 1983 after 4 years of full time study, I was awarded a business degree and I worked in government for a short while. I have worked as an Industrial Relations Officer, Advocate and Employee Relations Manager for a large private company.

After 7 years of working full time (employment law related) and studying, I graduated in law in 1996. I completed articles and practised as a solicitor and Senior Associate. I established and ran my own firm in early 2004, practising primarily in the area of employment, industrial relations, equal opportunity and occupational health and safety law. These are my main areas of practise.

I decided to practise as a barrister in 2006 at John Toohey Chambers. I joined Michael Kirby Chambers in June 2020.

Despite the often politicised nature of employment law, I work on the “cab rank” principle and I accept instructions on behalf of employers, government and employees, for whom I will act without fear or favour.

My experience in the field of workplace law, at the date of writing, exceeds 35 years.

I have advised on matters and appeared as counsel in all State and most Federal Courts, including the Industrial Appeal Court, State Administrative Tribunal and the Australian (now Fair Work) and Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

I think that I am a sensible negotiator and have achieved some very good settled outcomes.

More recently I have carried out a number of family law briefs including:

  • Defending against alleged contraventions of Court Orders (mainly parenting);
  • Applications for parenting Orders;
  • Property, maintenance and children's issues for both De facto and married couples (including technical jurisdiction challenges) and have archived some significant negotiated settlements;
  • A divorce in which one party opposed the divorce for religious and cultural reasons;
  • Opinion work (for example, on superannuation splitting);
  • Violence restraining orders (I was counsel for the Applicant in Baron v Walsh in the Magistrates Court obtaining a 5 year restraining order and a significant costs order. That matter went on appeal and succeeded in the District Court. The District Court judgment was overturned by an appeal to the Supreme Court. The High Court refused special leave. I was involved, as well as at first instance, in a limited way in the District Court appeal);
  • Child relocation (I have done several of these involving a de facto relationship and a marriage);
  • Parentage testing;
  • Child recovery orders (numerous) and
  • An appeal in the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia (see the anonymised case name Manotis & Manotis 2010) which succeeded including costs. In April 2011, I succeeded in a case involving the same parties and obtained consequential interlocutory orders and costs related to the sale of real property.

I have also, in connection with Family Law, been involved in numerous:

  • Interlocutory Applications in a Case;
  • Case Assessment Conferences;
  • Readiness hearings; and
  • Mediations.

Membership of Professional Organisations

Family Law Practitioners’ Association of WA

Contact Information

Michael Kirby Chambers

Level 27, St Martins Tower
44 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000

P.O. Box 191 (preferred mailing address)

North Perth WA 6906

M: 0410 351 044

E: david@davidhowlettbarrister.com.au

Areas of Practice

  • Employment Law
  • Workplace Law
  • Industrial Relations
  • Health & Safety Law
  • Discrimination Law
  • Family Law

Admitted to Practice

  • Supreme Court of Western Australia (1997)
  • High Court of Australia and Federal courts (1998)


  • Bachelor of Laws (UWA, 1997)
  • Bachelor of Business (Curtin University of Technology,, 1984)