Ceremonial Sitting of the Full Court
For the Welcome of the Honourable Justice Derrington
Transcript of proceedings
THE HONOURABLE JAMES ALLSOP AO, CHIEF JUSTICE
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE DOWSETT AM
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE SIOPIS
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE GREENWOOD
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE RARES
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE COLLIER
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE BESANKO
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE LOGAN RFD
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE REEVES
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE RANGIAH
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE DERRINGTON
ALLSOP CJ: May I welcome everyone to the court for this very joyous occasion. Justice Derrington, welcome to the Court. You have been toiling now for some weeks and I hope you haven't regretted your decision. I know I don't regret the governance. And may I welcome you on behalf of all the judges of the Court to the court. Mr Attorney.
THE HON. G. BRANDIS QC: May it please the Court. May I begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to their elders, both past and present. It is a great pleasure to be here today on behalf of the Government and the people of Australia to congratulate your Honour Justice Derrington on your appointment to the Federal Court of Australia. A very large number of members of the judiciary and of the legal profession are gathered in the courtroom today are a testament to the high esteem in which your Honour is held and the respect you have earned over the course of your career.
Might I particularly acknowledge the distinguished presence of the Honourable Susan Kiefel, the Chief Justice of Australia, the Honourable Patrick Keane and the Honourable James Edelman of the High Court of Australia, the Honourable Catherine Holmes, the Chief Justice of Queensland, the Honourable Kerry O'Brien, Chief Judge of the District Courts of Queensland, a very large number of judges from the Family Court, the Federal Circuit Court, the Queensland Supreme Court, the District Court and members of the Magistrates Court, as well as many other retired judicial officers, not least of whom is your distinguished father, the Honourable Des Derrington.
I want to particularly acknowledge the presence of members of your Honour's family, who proudly share this special occasion with you, your wife, Sarah; your son, Nicholas, and his fiancée, Sarida, who have travelled back from Cambridge to be here with you today and whose presence, I'm told, was a surprise for your Honour; your daughters, Stephanie and Emilie; I've already mentioned your distinguished father, Des Derrington, and your mother, Patricia; your sister Margo and her husband, Christopher; your parents-in-law, David and Jenny; your brother-in-law, Christopher, and sister-in-law, Fiona.
Your Honour's appointment to this Court is yet another step in what has been a most distinguished career. From your earliest childhood years your Honour has distinguished yourself in every endeavour you have set your mind to. Your Honour was born in Rockhampton, where your father, then Derrington QC, was the leader of the Rockhampton Bar. Although you only lived in that city until the age of three, when the family relocated to Brisbane, there is a strong Rockhampton connection in your life. Your principal mentor, Sir Gerard Brennan also had roots in Rockhampton. You attended primary school at Ironside State School before completing high school at Brisbane Grammar, where you excelled both academically and as a sportsman, particularly, I am told, as a tennis player and surfer.
Your Honour's commitment and dedication to the law was inspired from an early age by your father, Des. It was his influence that inspired you to study law and continues to influence your legal career. You attended the University of Queensland, where in 1984 you graduated as a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Economics and History and in 1986, at the top of your class and with first class honours, in Law. 1986 was a significant year for your Honour in other ways. You were the first Queenslander to be awarded the Sir Robert Menzies Scholarship to Oxford to undertake a Bachelor of Civil Law. You were also admitted as a legal practitioner in that year.
It was at about that time that I first encountered your Honour. Your father had suggested that you come and talk to me about Oxford and the BCL. I remember the conversation. I think I told you to go to Magdalen, but you went to Worcester. Not the last time, I suspect, your Honour has ignored my advice. But nevertheless, your study at Oxford between 1987 and 1989 under some of the most considerable legal scholars in the world further nurtured your love of the law. When you returned to Australia you became the associate to Sir Gerard Brennan of the High Court, another significant influence which has shaped your legal career of course. That was in 1990.
I understand one of the most important educational experiences when you were Sir Gerard Brennan's associate were your lunchtime walks around the old Parliament House rose garden discussing matters then before the court. Indeed, your Honour has made something of a habit of judicial peregrinations. I understand that nowadays you regularly undertake similar walks with Justice Edelman, not around the rose garden, but among the native flora of the Brisbane Riverside. Later in 1990 your Honour was called to the Bar and commenced practice in level 16 and 17 of the Quay Central Chambers. Your Honour developed a flourishing practice and took Silk in 2004.
Over the course of your 26 years at the Bar you enjoyed a thriving and demanding practice across a range of areas, including commercial law, contract disputes, trade practices, taxation and insolvency. You quickly distinguished yourself as a force to be reckoned with, appearing in many leading cases. For example, in 1995 your Honour successfully applied for the transfer of proceedings to the Supreme Court of Western Australia in Rothwells v Connell, overcoming the equally formidable, though on that occasion not formidable enough, opposition of Keane QC. In 1997 you went on to act as junior counsel before the High Court in the seminal Queensland v JL Holdings case.
Your Honour is described as someone who is not only dedicated to the law, but has a real sense of duty. You have a reputation for passionately believing in the law as a calling, as a vocation and in doing so your Honour embodies the finest principles and values of our profession. That is exemplified in your unmatched work ethic and the prioritising of the needs of your clients before all else, characteristics which your colleagues at the Bar believe, and I believe, make you very well suited to delivered principled, scholarly judgments. While maintaining a busy practice, your Honour has always been prepared to give back to the profession and to the community.
You served as editor of the Queensland Reports for nine years and displayed significant professional leadership in that capacity, donating countless hours of your personal time in that role. In particular, your work in overhauling the Queensland Reports resulted, I am told, in a 1500 per cent increase in subscribers. I question that figure. Perhaps it was from a low base. Your Honour has also been an active member of numerous committees, including the Bar Association and the Law Society, as well as a member of the Queensland Australian Football League Disciplinary Committee. Your indefatigable commitment to the legal profession also extends to mentoring younger lawyers, particularly those who attended your alma mater of the University of Queensland Law School.
Since your graduation you have nurtured the next generation of lawyers working as a tutor and sessional lecturer. You now hold an appointment as an adjunct professor at the Law School. Your commitment to education is also evidenced by the fact that you serve as Deputy Chairman of the Council of Emmanuel College, whose principal joins us in court today. Of course the most significant beneficiaries of your passion for nurturing young minds are your three children. Your son, Nicholas, and daughter, Stephanie, have both followed your Honour's footsteps establishing successful careers in the law. Nicholas is currently completing a Masters of Law at Cambridge before returning to practice at the Bar. And your daughter, Stephanie, works as a solicitor at Minter Ellison. Your youngest daughter, Emilie, is currently undergoing pre-med studies at the Australian National University.
Of course, while your Honour has a myriad of achievements in the law, your proudest moment and greatest achievement by far was marrying your wife Sarah, herself an accomplished legal scholar. Your Honour's devotion to your family, I'm told, also extends to its two new members, miniature poodles Ted and Lotte. I am reliably informed that your Honour spends many hours seeking to win their affection. Your efforts are better rewarded in the garden where I'm told your Honour spends most Saturdays ensuring your hedges are trimmed to perfection. Your Honour has been described by some anonymous person as a "fanatical gardener" and no doubt that obsessive perfectionism, which has been a feature of your Honour's career and life, is a possible indicator of the level of dedication and attention to detail you will bring to your judgments.
Your Honour, I well know, has a wicked sense of humour, ranging from dark puns to dad jokes. You – I am told you look forward to injecting your unique brand of humour into the discharge of judicial duties, but I wouldn't press that too far. Whether your Honour's distaste for surprises, exemplified by your not altogether joyous reaction to Sarah's acquisition of Peugeot convertible, will flow in the management of your Honour's docket remains to be seen. You colleagues have described you as intelligent, generous and humble with an infallible sense of justice. You are not only described as one of the hardest-working counsel at the Bar, but someone who cares very deeply about each matter and continuously strives to do the best you possibly could for each client, regardless of their means and circumstances.
This moral compass, together with your very strong work ethic and your very strong – and, if I may say so, your traditional – sense of our profession, will stand you in good stead for your career on the Bench. Your passion for the law, sound judgment and sensitivity in balancing competing interests in complex matters will serve you well in what I hope will be – and fully expect will be – a long and distinguished career on the Bench. So on behalf of the Government of the people of Australia, I extend once again my sincere congratulations and wish you a long and satisfying judicial career. May it please the Court.
ALLSOP CJ: Mr Hughes.
MR C. HUGHES QC: Chief Justice Allsop, Judges both past and present of the Federal Court of Australia, Chief Justice Kiefel and Justices Keane and Edelman of the High Court, Judges and members both past and present of other Federal and State Courts and Tribunals, including, of course the Chief Justice of Queensland, the President of the Court of Appeal of Queensland and the Chief Judge of the District Court, ladies and gentlemen – and aren't there a lot of you here today. Before I turn to the guest of honour, the reason for such a rollup and the focus of this morning's ceremony, might I extend, on behalf of the Barristers of Queensland, a particularly warm welcome to Chief Justice Allsop into the state today. Chief Justice, you are a friend of the Bar in this state, as you are in the Bar of every other state. You and your Court enjoy the respect and support of the Bar.
Justice Derrington, my appearance this morning gives me more than the usual pleasure for at least three reasons. First, I appear here today not just on behalf of the Bar Association of Queensland, of which I am President, but also on behalf of the Australian Bar Association, of which I'm a Vice President and the Law Council of Australia, of which I am a director. Think of all those airfares we have saved. The President of the Australian Bar Association, Will Alstergren QC, and the President of the Law Council of Australia, Fiona McLeod QC both send their apologies and best wishes to you, Justice Derrington, on this – as the Chief Justice said – joyous occasion.
The second reason for my particular personal pleasure is that I have the privilege of sharing chambers with you, your Honour, for two decades on the 16th level of Quay Central. More about that later. The third reason is that I have known and cared for not only you, Justice Derrington, but many members of your broader family for well over three decades, commencing with your father, the Honourable Justice – or former Justice, Des Derrington QC, who served as a Justice of the Supreme Court in the state for nearly two decades. Your very charming mother, Patricia, who attempted, without much success, to introduce me to an understanding of the delights of Indigenous art. Your sister, Professor Patrice Derrington, who unfortunately can't join us from New York – and I must say, if I was in New York at the moment, perhaps I would have stayed there myself.
Your talented wife, Professor Sarah Derrington, who is now the Dean of Law at the law school of our alma mater, the University of Queensland, your daughters Stephanie and Emilie who I met while we were in chambers together, your son Nicholas, and even your brother in law, Christopher, both of whom are, of course, fee-paying members of my association, your personal assistant, for most of the last three decades, Sarah Masters, who answered my phone perhaps not as much as she answered yours, but was wonderful to have working in chambers. And, might I say, even your father-in-law, Father David Johnson, who, in another life, married me many years ago at the Churchie chapel when he was the popular chaplain at school.
Now, that brings me to a segue. Sadly, your Honour did not go to Churchie, but went to Brisbane Grammar School. Worse still, your Honour did not go to Cambridge, but you went to Oxford and, I understand from the Attorney, you didn't take his advice about that either. Your Honour's main claim to fame for most of us, however, is an athlete, sporting yourself in appropriate costume in the University of Queensland swimming pool, the very same East Coast waters which I understand are frequented by Justice Edelman of the High Court. But for an athlete, Justice Derrington, you have done very well as a lawyer. As we have heard, there were several significant years in your career, and I've tried to collate them to make what I'm saying more relevant. 1986 was indeed a very significant year. You graduated in that year with first class honours for the Bachelor of Law from the University of Queensland.
Shortly thereafter, you were admitted as a legal practitioner and then finally in that year you received, as the Attorney has said, the Sir Robert Menzies Scholarship which you took up for a period reading law at Oxford. Four years after your graduation in 1990, there was another big year. That year, you were the associate to the Honourable Sir Gerard Brennan, the Chief Justice of the High Court. Later in that year, you practiced – commenced practice, I should say, as a Barrister in Brisbane. You then worked for 14 years and took silk in 2004. Before and after you took silk, your practice, as the Attorney has said, involved specialisation in commercial and insurance law, in equity, in trusts, in contract and in banking law. The Bar Association wishes to repeat, as the Attorney said, that you're appointed to its professional conduct committee and its commercial law committee, both of which you served with distinction.
You have also stood for election to the Bar Council on a number of occasions, again emphasising your willingness to serve the profession. We have heard, also, that you've lectured as an adjunct professor at the School of Law at the University of Queensland. I wish my life could give me a job. You have sat on the editorial board of the Australian Bar Review and you have served as an editor on the Queensland Law Reports and the Queensland Law Reporter, which, from what we've heard from the Attorney, seems to have become more popular than gentleman's magazine. You have assisted the Queensland Law Society also, with respect to is commercial litigation specialist accreditation, but I don't want to take anything away from Mr Coyne.
Justice Derrington, you have been busy. You have been very busy. You were fortunate to share chambers, not just with journeymen like me or Sandy Thompson QC, the Vice President of our humble Bar, and John McKenna QC, who stands beside me, but also with some of the rising stars of the Bar. It would be churlish of me to mention some but risk offence by not mentioning all, but could I take the liberty of mentioning two in particular – Adam Pomerenke QC and Dominic O'Sullivan QC who have, and continuing to do, such wonderful work for the Bar Association in what I know you would agree is the important work of continuing legal education. Over the years, Justice Derrington, we were all fortunate to have been in chambers with you. Chief Justice Allsop, I'm able to say after two decades of sharing chambers with the then Roger Derrington of counsel and then of Senior Counsel, that you will find him a man wedded to his worth ethic.
You will get, Chief Justice, in the words of Shakespeare, your "pound of flesh" from this man. If I may stay with the bard for a moment, Justice Derrington is perhaps one who has loved the law, not necessarily wisely, but too well. I say not wisely only because for nearly two decades, some of us – perhaps I was primus inter pares – encouraged his Honour to take more holidays and spend more time – and indeed more money – with his family. In general, with many of my submissions, I failed to gain traction, such was his Honour's dedication to the law. Hopefully, now, however, serving in this Court and serving the people of Australia, your Honour Justice Derrington will be able to find a little more time for recreational pursuits, of which the research of the Attorney-General has astounded me, and your family. Those matters, or some of those times, were denied you by what we've heard and what I've seen to be your very strong work ethic, which no doubt you inherited from your family, and probably most, or part, from your father.
There are some of us here, no doubt – particularly in view of the recent acquisition to your family – would leave disappointed if I did not recount the fact that from time to time, particularly on weekends, your Honour also shared chambers on the 16th level of Quay Central with my small, slightly smelly but very enthusiastic Australian cattle dog named Shorty. Your Honour's affection for the dog was confusing for me. I've at times thought perhaps you had been bitten by a dog as a child. Then other times your wide-eyed stare when the dog headed towards your carpet – and on one unfortunate day leapt onto your desk – left me to believe that one day you would be a very happy dog owner.
Justice Derrington, as is obvious from what I've said, you come from a fine family, you enjoy a fine intellect, you are blessed with an obvious work ethic and you will no doubt enjoy the camaraderie of this fine Court under the leadership of Chief Justice Allsop. There is, as a great compliment to you, a packed room today. We needed to make sure there were 20 Supreme Court judges here simply to balance out your family. Indeed, in the words of W.S. Gilbert, it seems we have your cousins, your sisters and your aunts all present. On behalf of the Bar Association of Queensland, the Australian Bar Association and the Law Council of Australia, Justice Derrington, I congratulate you on your appointment. The Bar Association of Queensland is proud of you and your involvement with it. I wish your Honour a long, successful and rewarding career on the bench. If it please the Court.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Hughes. Mr Coyne.
MR C. COYNE: May it please the Court. Chief Justice, judges and distinguished guests whose presence have already been acknowledged. On behalf of the Queensland Law Society, I am honoured to be given this opportunity to speak today on this occasion to mark, and remark upon, your Honour's appointment. Much has already been said by the Attorney and by Mr Hughes of your Honour's attributes. I do not intend to repeat those, but simply endorse them. Your Honour, you and I have known each for many years. I have briefed you on many occasions, in matters ranging from ACCC prosecutions through to, typically, matters involving claims against solicitors.
And that has been on behalf of the Law Society's captive insurer, Lexon. In doing so, you have provided wise counsel and advocacy for the solicitors' branch of the profession, and they are indebted to you. We've also worked together in establishing what was then the Law Society's specialist accreditation program for commercial litigators. You freely gave up your time in designing that program, writing examination questions and examining those solicitors who sought accreditation. Again, the solicitors and the Law Society are indebted to your Honour for the time you freely contributed to the development of that program.
In recent years, we have also worked together in relation to the Law Reporter. You have, as has already been mentioned, been the editor of the Queensland Law Reporter for some years now. I have inside knowledge from my daughter, who has worked with you, that you have worked eccentric hours in the preparation of that Law Reporter to ensure that it is available every Friday to the profession. On behalf of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting, we are indebted to you and thank you for that role. In more recent years, you have also been involved working closely with the chair of the Incorporated Council, John McKenna QC, who sits to my right.
There have been two major projects undertaken by the council. First of all, the digitalisation of the Queensland Authorised Reports; and secondly, the establishment of a web-based service. Again the council is indebted to you for the extraordinary time and effort you have put into both those projects, the latter of which, the web-based service, is nearing completion. If you were comforted by the thought that your appointment would, by necessity, reduce your time commitments, rest assured, I am told, that your good wife Sarah will, I expect, invite you to use that spare time in lecturing or tutoring students and your alma mater, the University of Queensland, or, indeed, judging what can be interminable moots or debates.
As to your family, as already mentioned, notwithstanding your very busy practice, you and Sarah have managed to raise three children, two of whom, we already have heard, have followed both you and Sarah's tradition into studying law. One has moved to the Bar and one is, I understand, to remain in the solicitors' branch of the profession. So there is some balance within the family. However, I'm told reliably that there has been some rebellion within the Derrington household. Your daughter, Emilie, has elected to study medicine at ANU. And, even worse still, as we've heard, your son Nicholas is pursuing his Master's degree at Cambridge, in contradistinction to your Honour's tutelage at Oxford.
Your Honour, you possess all of the attributes of a judge of this Court: you have a true love of the law; you are highly experienced; you are mostly reasoned in your demeanour; you are hard-working; and free from any known bias or prejudice. You belong to this Court. In fact, judicial appointment is probably in your DNA, as your father would attest. On behalf of the Law Society and the solicitors of Queensland, I extend to you our heartfelt congratulations and hope that your time at the Bench is rich and rewarding. May it please the Court.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Coyne. Justice Derrington.
DERRINGTON J: Thank you, Chief Justice. Chief Justice, other members of the Federal Court, Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC, Attorney-General for the Commonwealth, the Honourable Susan Kiefel, Chief Justice of the High Court, Justices Keane and Edelman of the High Court, the Honourable Catherine Holmes, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland, the Honourable Walter Sofronoff, President of the Court of Appeal of Queensland, judges of the Supreme Court, of the Family Court, of the Federal Circuit Court, his Honour Kerry O'Brien, Chief Judge of the District Court, and other District Court judges, other judicial officers and tribunal members, retired judges of many varieties, members of the profession, members of the academy, of whom I am very pleased to see many here today, family and friends.
Thank you all for your attendance here today at this ceremony. I appreciate that everyone here has many pressing and important obligations, and that you would all give up your time to be here and attend today's proceedings does the Court, as it does me, a great honour. I am truly thankful.
Chief Justice, through you I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the staff of the Federal Court, who have assisted in my transition from the Bar. Mr Warwick Soden, the Principal Registrar, Ms Sia Lagos, the national operations registrar and Mr Stephen Williams, the Court's services coordinator have all carefully eased me into judicial life, and I am appreciative of their efforts.
But I would also like to thank, in particular, Acting District Registrar, Mr Murray Belcher, the director of court services, Ms Kay van Brederode, and all of the Court's administrative staff and IT support staff for their sustained and courteous efforts in making my transition to my new surroundings a smooth and happy one. They have all acted with great professionalism and I am very grateful for their efforts.
I ought to say, however, Chief Justice, that my transition to the Bench from the Bar would be immeasurably happier, and indeed a lot smoother, if only I could evict Justice Edelman from my chambers in the Federal Court precinct and actively move in. Now, I have contemplated proceedings for the recovery of possession of these chambers on behalf of the Court, but on reflection, and given the Constitutional hierarchy of courts, I rather think it wouldn't end well for the Federal Court.
Many of you here today have previously attended numerous of these ceremonies and you will be able to bear witness to the novices here present that those addressing from the bar table have a rather generous licence and indeed great latitude in bestowing accolades upon the newly-appointed judge. Today they are not constrained by the obligation not to mislead the Court. I was particularly conscious of this during the course of the addresses when I turned and looked at some of my friends and family, who were looking around the room in confused anxiety trying to figure out who it was that was being talked about. I can assure my friends and family that today the licence and latitude which is given to those addressing the Court has been stretched to its outermost limits. I can confirm that the compliments and the descriptions of my attributes have been overly generous, but that convention compels me, albeit reluctantly, to accept them with good grace, and I do.
Mr Attorney, thank you so much for according me the privilege to serve on this Court and, given your very busy schedule, for your attendance here today.
This is a court which continues to grow in reputation and stature across all areas of its jurisdiction and, in particular, in the area of the resolution of commercial disputes. That, no doubt, is in a large part due to the enormous efforts of yourself, Mr Attorney, and the Chief Justice over the past few years in the reorganisation and modernisation of the Court and, importantly, of its court administration.
I am conscious of the confidence which the Government reposes in me by my appointment and the enormity of the obligations which go with this office.
Given that I was sworn in in a private ceremony, it is appropriate that I publicly acknowledge the importance of my judicial oath of office and I do so. I am fully cognisant of the high standards which it imposes and I will do everything within my abilities to comply with its requirements.
Mr Hughes, thank you for your attempt to deliver a few kind words on this occasion. Given that we were in chambers, well, close to 20 years together, I was first amazed that you found anything nice to say about me, but I am infinitely more grateful about what you omitted than what you said.
I regard myself as having a very fortunate and happy career at the Bar. When I commenced practice in 1991 I joined a very collegiate and talented set of chambers on level 16 at Quay Central, which included you, Mr Hughes, and Mr McKenna, with whom I had spent time at Oxford. I remained in those chambers for the duration of my career. I am certain that the friendship and camaraderie of my loyal chamber mates has sustained me through the many challenging times, of which there are many and I am very grateful for that.
In the early part of my career, no doubt due to the lack of too many commercial juniors, I was very lucky to be briefed as junior counsel to the titans of the profession at the time. They included Patrick Keane; Richard Chesterman; Phil Morison; Phil McMurdo; David Jackson, the younger; David Jackson, the older, come to think of it, and many others.
These were true leaders of the Bar in the full sense of the word. They were always very grateful for my meagre offerings as a junior or at least they were terribly good at feigning gratitude. And moreover, I am certain that from time to time one of my egregious solecisms would have caused them embarrassment, either before the court or before an instructing solicitor, but not once, not once, did any of them flinch from assuming responsibility for my mistake. That was a characteristic which impressed me greatly and I hope that over the 13 years that I have been a silk I've been able to emulate that with my juniors.
Of course experiences with such talented silks give one a great education and I learnt much from them, particularly in advocacy, drafting skills, writing skills and, not in the least important, life lessons for the Bar. One such important life lesson was taught to me by Mr Lennon QC and that was the appropriateness of partaking of a libation after a hard day in court and before settling down to a hard night's work in chambers. To the indefatigable Mr Lennon vintage Krug seemed to offer a powerful tonic that gave him the ability to work on into the night and indeed into the wee hours of the morning. For me it had the complete opposite effect and, were it not for Mr Lennon's very old and very uncomfortable couch, I would have dosed off rather quickly.
But this was an important life lesson and, although all my friends here know that I have got a very poor palate for wine generally, I do know a good French Champagne when I see one.
On taking silk I was terribly fortunate. I was briefed regularly with some wonderful juniors. I will not identify them today to avoid embarrassment. But each of them was terribly good and certainly their talents made me look far better than I was and I am grateful for that.
Mr Coyne, similarly during my years at the Bar I had the privilege of working with some of Queensland's preeminent litigators, yourself amongst those. Some of them were the best lawyers I encountered in my practice. The intuitive understanding of the law was unsurpassed. Moreover, like you, they were acutely aware that one ounce of meritorious fact could be worth a whole pound of erudite legal argument and time and time again that proved to be entirely correct.
The friendships which I formed with many of those solicitors were formed in what I refer to as "the fiery pits of Hell" or what other people euphemistically refer to as "the Courts". And because of that I expect that those friendships will be enduring and I certainly hope they are.
I should also mention that I enjoyed sitting on the Law Society's Committee for the Accreditation of Commercial Litigation Specialists for a period of seven years and I know that you were the chairman of that committee. It was an honour and a privilege to serve on that committee. The logistical organisation and coordination of that committee and the other accreditation committees was superlative. It was difficult enough to gather half a dozen very busy professionals together, let alone guide them through the many tasks which they had to achieve. The society is to be commended for the work which it does in that regard.
Might I also add from my erstwhile position as the editor of the Queensland Reports how grateful I am for the enthusiastic support of the Law Society for the important work of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for Queensland. That support has been tremendous and enduring and I hope that it continues and I too look forward to the launching of the digital database of the Queensland Reports.
It struck me recently that a voluntary association, such as the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting, can produce authorised law reports more quickly, more cheaply and more accurately than any of the commercial publishers. And it is a testament to the enormous amount of time that you and Mr John McKenna QC put in in ensuring that happens.
Reflecting on my years at the Bar, perhaps the greatest frustration I encountered was the use of the legal system as a taxpayer-funded device to thwart the enforcement of rights in the hope of leveraging commercial positions or, by delay, defeating legal rights all together. It has always seemed to me to be to make a mockery of legal rights where the institution, which is designed to vindicate them is used to defeat them.
That is true in all areas of the law, but it is particularly acute in the area of commercial law where the failure of the legal system to effectively enforce legal rights has a wider consequence than merely disappointing deserving litigants. It has a deleterious effect on the economy.
The benefits to the economy of an effective legal mechanism for the enforcement of commercial rights cannot be underestimated. This has been a central proposition in a number of papers delivered by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Thomas, and it is one which I strongly agree. Those of you who read the Queensland Law Reporter from time to time will know that I have referenced his lordship's observations on many occasion.
His lordship has observed that the rule of law administered by courts is central to both our society and, importantly, to our economic prosperity. Indeed, he observes that the application of the rule of law in an effective justice system "underpins the operation of the markets and commerce by enabling contracts to be enforced and debts paid through a just and fair process". Those who participate in commerce must have the confidence that their commercial rights and entitlements, which are the fruits of their businesses, will be protected and enforced and that their disputes will be resolved quickly. And when Lord Thomas refers to the "enforcement of rights" he is referring to the resolution of commercial disputes justly and fairly as well as cheaply and quickly.
Where this can occur people will come to do business. Singapore is a prime example of that; London is another, as is New York. In short, one of the essential messages of Lord Thomas is that strong commercial courts aret vital for an effective, prosperous economy.
The key strategies to achieving the optimal system of the resolution of commercial disputes requires a high quality of justice delivered from all parts of the profession, including the practitioners, the court administration and the judiciary. I would add to that, at a slightly higher level of abstraction, the pursuit of excellence by the Academy and all that it does, including research and the teaching of future generations of lawyers.
But no matter how good a court system is today, given the pace of the change in the legal landscape, innovation is constantly required to meet the needs of commerce tomorrow. I know that the Chief Justice is aware of this and that the innovations in this court, including the introduction of the National Court Framework and the complete digitalisation of the registry and the court processes is equipping this court well to meet the challenges of the future.
Nothing which I have said today should be thought of as in any way diminishing the quintessential role of the courts in protecting individual rights and liberties and protecting the individual from the excesses of government power.
It is merely that I agree with Lord Thomas' proposition that the more prosaic role of the court in providing the oil to the machinery of the economy is too often overlooked.
Finally before I finish, it is orthodox on an occasion such as this to acknowledge those who have supported me during my career. I have spoken privately to my family and to my friends in this regard, but I do publicly acknowledge that whatever accomplishments I might have achieved in my life, I have done so only with the loving, encouragement and support of my parents, my siblings, my children and most of all, my wife, Sarah.
ALLSOP CJ: The court will now adjourn.