Ceremonial sitting of the Full Court
To welcome the Honourable Justice Cheeseman
Transcript of proceedings
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE ALLSOP, Chief Justice
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE RARES
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE FLICK
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE PERRAM
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE JAGOT
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE NICHOLAS
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE YATES
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE KATZMANN
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE GRIFFITHS
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE FARRELL
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE WIGNEY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE PERRY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE BURLEY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE COLVIN
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE THAWLEY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE STEWART
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE HALLEY
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE CHEESEMAN
9.29 AM, FRIDAY, 21 MAY 2021
ALLSOP CJ: Call the matter.
COURT OFFICER: Welcome of the Honourable Justice Cheeseman.
ALLSOP CJ: Welcome to everyone here and to those watching by streaming to the ceremonial sitting of the Court to welcome our colleague, Justice Cheeseman. May I first then, importantly, and on behalf of the Court and all those here today, acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which the Court sits and on which we gather, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their eldest past, present and emerging. May I especially welcome Justice Cheeseman's family here today. Husband, Judge Andrew Scotting, and children, Sirena, Alex, Serafina, Olivia and Lucy, parents Peter and Margaret, sisters and brother and all the family. You are most welcome.
May I also acknowledge the presence today of my colleague, the Chief Justice of New South Wales, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge in Equity, Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court, Judges of the Family Court and District Court, and Mr Rayment representing the AAT, and all distinguished guests. Justice Cheeseman, you have been hard at the judicial tools for over a month now since you were sworn in. You seem not only to be powering through the work, but you seem to be loving it. I hope so.
As Justice Emmett, who is here, once said to me, with his insouciant classical wisdom, it is the best job in the world. It is some years since we stared at each other down over pleadings feet high in the Bell litigation in the 1990s, but, now, you join a Court that could, if necessary, I think, sit a bench of five if not four, from the alumni of that case on both sides to resolve any outstanding issues. Welcome to the Court. We are very happy to have you as our colleague. Attorney-General for the Commonwealth.
SENATOR CASH: May it please the court. It is a great privilege to be here today on behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian people to congratulate your Honour on your appointment as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. I would like to convey the Australian Government's sincere thanks for your Honour's willingness to serve as a Judge of this Court. On behalf of the government, I extend our best wishes for your illustrious career on the bench. Your Honour's appointment to the Federal Court of Australia is a reflection of your achievements in your legal career thus far, and the high regard in which you are held by members of the judiciary and the legal profession who join us here today.
May I particularly acknowledge the Honourable Justice Thomas Bathurst AC, the Honourable Justice Andrew Bell, the Honourable Justice Brian Preston, the Honourable Justice Robert Harper, Deputy President Brian Rayment QC, the Honourable Kevin Lindgren AM QC, the Honourable Justice Arthur Emmett AO, the Honourable Dennis Cowdroy AO QC. May I also acknowledge the presence of your Honour's family who share in this occasion with you. Your husband, whom I have spoken with this morning, and he can't stop beaming, Judge Andrew Scotting, your children, Sirena, Alex, Serafina, Olivia and Lucy, your siblings and their families, but I have to say, your Honour, your parents, Peter and Margaret. I have introduced myself, and how proud they are and how proud they should be.
Your Honour's appointment to this bench is representative of your dedication to the profession, and the extensive experience your Honour brings from having conducted lengthy and complex hearings in this very Court. Time does not permit me to outline the full catalogue of your Honour's accomplishments. Therefore, I intend to speak to just a few of the qualities that have marked your career to date, and which will inform the contributions you will make to this Court.
Your Honour, I understand, grew up on the beautiful northern beaches of Sydney as the eldest of five children in a tight-knit and loving family. As a testament to that closeness, I understand that you still live in the area nearby to one another. Your Honour graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws in 1989 and was admitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1991. I understand that your Honour became the first lawyer in your family and inspired your youngest sister, Julie, to follow in your footsteps. Julie is now special counsel at Ashurst.
Your Honour began your career as a solicitor and, ultimately, senior associate at Black Dawson Waldron. Your Honour was called to the bar in 1996 and appointed senior counsel in 2012. Whilst at the bar, your Honour developed an impressively broad practice in commercial, corporate, banking, regulatory and insurance law, as well as complex proceeds of crime litigation.
Your Honour has been described as one of the few members of the bar who is equally comfortable as both a trial and appellate lawyer. Your Honour's legal acumen has been borne out in your work on a number of significant cases, such as Crimmins v Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee, which went to the High Court in 1999, seeking justice for waterside workers, who had been exposed to asbestos in the 1940s through to the 1970s.
Many here today, as has already spoken of, will be aware of your Honour's work on the infamous Bell litigation, where you successfully brought claims against 20 banks and obtained a verdict of approximately $2.7 billion. However, they may not be as aware of the challenges you face behind the scenes during this time, balancing frequent disruptive travel to and from my home State of Perth, a difficult case and new additions to your family.
Indeed, your Honour's resilience and wise and calm counsel, even in the most challenging of circumstances, has been widely observed by many of your colleagues. I have been told that those instructed on the Bell matter considered working with you, and I quote, "as one of the highlights of what is often referred to as a torturous experience". After taking silk in 2012, your Honour remained a popular and much sought-after counsel. You were always known for being approachable and the go-to for complex or urgent matters due to your ability to master not only technical legal argument and strategy but to do so whilst displaying exceptional emotional intelligence.
Your Honour's commitment to the law and justice is also demonstrated outside of the courtroom by your Honour's extensive work on various committees and projects of the New South Wales Bar Association. To name but a few, your Honour notably served as Chair of the New South Wales Bar Association Practice Development Committee and sat for many years on professional conduct committees.
As many here today would have personally experienced, your Honour is a great mentor and inspiration to others in the legal profession. May I suggest that this is a result of your Honour's unquestionable integrity in always treating people equally and your boundless generosity in always making time to support and guide your junior colleagues. From the clerk delivering a brief through to general counsel, your Honour would always make them feel welcome and listen to their contribution.
For junior lawyers, your Honour would freely give your time to offer advice and share your experiences. One colleague recalls a time when your Honour shared an error of yours in an effort to calm a solicitor who had slipped up. This demonstrates, unequivocally, your Honour's sense of compassion, collegiality and desire to support all those with whom you work.
As Head of the New Chambers where your Honour practised with Thawley and Stewart JJ prior to their appointments to the court, your Honour has been described as an innovative and respected leader, who sought to recruit new members from diverse backgrounds. I have also been told reliably that your Honour possesses a, I am quoting here, "wicked sense of humour", demonstrated by a prank that you pulled on a colleague prior to your Honour leaving chambers for the last time.
On this solemn day, your Honour attended the chambers of your colleague, Arthur Moses SC, and handed him an envelope warning, "I'm entrusting you a note to place behind your door that Tom Thawley, now Thawley J, gave to me before his appointment. It is an important message for all that enter here so you need to promise me to place it on your door."
Thinking it must contain invaluable words of wisdom to be read by solicitors and clients as they left his chambers, Mr Moses waited until you left to open the sacred envelope. Inside was a bright yellow warning sign that read, "Caution. Maximum capacity, 15 clowns." I'm advised that Mr Moses has since dutifully placed that sign on his door and I have it on good authority that he has always adhered to the warning.
Perhaps more impressive than your Honour's pranking record, though, is your collection, I understand, of homewares or trinkets, as I understand, you like to call them. Apparently, the search for a trinket is never-ending and can arise in the most unusual places, like, I am informed, the desperate need to bring a large set of wooden coffee tables home from a backpacking tour of Bali. According to trinket law, traditional trinket law, that is, if a trinket is good, it must always be acquired in odd numbers and odd numbers don't usually, I'm told, start until around five.
This means that your Honour's family, and they are laughing in the background so it must be true, is often bringing home a lot more luggage from overseas than you left with. Exhibit A, the coffee tables. In addition to, I am told, an uncanny knack for trinkets, I understand your Honour also has a special ability with colours and is a very talented artist and home decorator. This has been, I am advised, most recently demonstrated by your Honour's trailblazing act of painting your chambers at court in a dark teal to accentuate your artwork.
Your Honour has drawn many comments from other judges in your short time on the court about the wall colour, even inspiring, I understand, a few of them to follow suit. But aside from all of this, your Honour's life outside of chambers and courtrooms has been most singularly defined by your family, many of whom, as I have acknowledged, are here with you today. Your love, devotion and deep affection for your family has been especially noted by many of your friends and colleagues, who have observed a unique smile that crosses your Honour's face whenever you talk about your family.
Your Honour's appointment to this court is a testament to your hard work and your dedication to the law and justice. Your Honour will bring with you many qualities, including your sharp intellect, exceptional work ethic and highly valued collegiality that I have, no doubt, will serve you well on this court. A colleague has observed that while your Honour's appointment to this bench will be a loss to the New South Wales Bar, it is undoubtedly a huge gain for the community and the administration of justice and with that, I could not agree more. On behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian people, I extend to you my sincerest congratulations and welcome you officially to the Federal Court of Australia. May it please the court.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Attorney. Mr McHugh, President of the New South Wales Bar Association.
MR M. McHUGH SC: May it please the court. I acknowledge the judicial custodians of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to the elders past and present. For the New South Wales Bar Association and on behalf of the Australian Bar Association, it is my privilege to welcome your Honour, Cheeseman J's, appointment to the Federal Court.
The appointment of senior counsel to the bench, as the Attorney has noted, is inevitably the court's gain and the Bar's loss. However, we note that your Honour leaves the Bar with the legacy of service. Your Honour served on a professional committee and as a member and Chair with the Practice Development Committee, as we've heard, giving service for the best part of a decade and always rolled up your Honour's sleeves to contribute, notwithstanding the demands of a busy practice and family life.
The work undertaken as Chair of the Practice Development Committee had a national reach, as your Honour led the committee in developing new ways of promoting the services of the Bar. In particular to in-house counsel, both corporate and government, in two principle areas; direct briefing and early briefing.
While already busy with these and other committee activities your Honour was additionally involved with various working parties: the Equitable Briefing Working Party, the Ad Hoc Working Party on Direct Costs Agreements, Chair of the Working Party on the ALRC Inquiry into Class Action Proceedings and Third Party Litigation Funders.
Your Honour, indeed, there must have been more than one Bar counsel meeting or executive meeting where an issue would come up and someone would say, "Well let's get Liz Cheeseman onto that," and whatever the issue, it was immediately considered fixed. Particularly in these working groups and committees – participation, I should say, in these working groups and committees demonstrates your Honour's real commitment to improving the current practices of the profession and willingness to share specialist knowledge and insights. Thank you.
Some of the insights have no doubt been drawn from personal experiences, including from your Honour's formative years in legal practice, as to the first-hand knowledge of the need for equitable briefing. When your Honour was called to the Bar in 1996, well, what can I say? I trust things got better. As we know, there is still a way to go to improve the retention and progression of women barristers, however, thankfully it is now recognised that diversity and inclusion in the profession helps us all.
Apparently your Honour did not always have a strong interest in practicing law, although certainly had the wits and smarts. Educated at Mater Maria College, Warriewood, your Honour was school captain in years 11 and 12 and Dux in year 12. There, it was in Art that your Honour had a notable interest and achievement; with a major work exhibited in ARTEXPRESS. For tertiary study your Honour then opted for Arts Law at Sydney University.
During the summer your Honour worked as a Clerk at Blake Dawson Waldron and, as luck would have it, the clerkship chanced upon working on the Chelmsford inquiry and it was there that your Honour saw in action John Sackar QC and Michael Bosick and suddenly working the law looked a lot more interesting. After graduating, your Honour was supported by Hugh Keller at Clifford Chance and your Honour worked on the HIV haemophiliac class action and this cemented the interest in litigation.
After returning to Blake Dawson Waldron in 1991 your Honour settled in litigation and were promoted to Senior Associate in 1995. Some colleagues from BDW who are now scattered far and wide are also here today. When called to the Bar in 1996 your Honour met one Andrew Scotting in a Bar reader's course. His Honour, Judge Scotting, now says that you each got a lot more out of that course than you could ever have hoped for. As a reader, your Honour quickly demonstrated to your tutor, Mark Williams SC, great ability and a real work ethic.
As we know, your Honour has a love of the northern beaches; having grown up at Elanora on the sand as a nipper at Warriewood and as a keen ocean swimmer. Indeed, Williams SC had taken you on as reader after your Honour admired a photo in his chambers of his surf boat crew competing in Wild Surf. Perhaps the challenging surf conditions at Warriewood and commitment to swimming, even in the most miserable weather, built up the resilience and abilities to thrive as your Honour did in the turbulent waves of commercial litigation.
Your Honour moved to seventh floor Wentworth as one of the inaugural members of what was the first of the Phillip Street annexes. The seventh floor was the beginning of many enduring friendships for your Honour; significantly, it was the start of a long professional relationship with David Jackson QC. In practice your Honour was versatile; appearing at both ends of the bar table and variously acting for commercial enterprises and government and regulatory agencies in, at times, complex and lengthy proceedings. And yet found time for the 2006 summer edition of Bar News where your Honour contributed not one but two articles on expert evidence; the second had the then engaging title of Hot-Tubbing.
Your Honour continued to develop specialities in financial services, corporate and white collar crime, experience with ADR, as a mediator and with credentials as an independent adjudicator. As we've heard, your Honour took silk in 2012 which for some reason, I might venture, was a very good year for silk and for the last nine years have maintained a busy practice, not simply as a successful commercial silk. From Full Court appeals concerning restraint provisions in a shareholder's agreement; appearing for ASIC in civil penalty proceedings and obtaining pecuniary penalties at over 90 per cent of the maximum; to representing ICAC officers in civil claims; or coming up to Darlinghurst in the midst of a Supreme Court jury trial and setting us right on Proceeds of Crime Litigation.
In these and other matters your Honour has been admired for impressive court-craft. Your Honour was a formidable cross-examiner and could often simply disarm witnesses into making proper concessions. It is worth remarking your Honour's technical excellence as an advocate has been combined with a strong sense of fairness and, no doubt, sound judgment. Moreover your Honour is, to our certain knowledge, humble and self-effacing; modest with nothing to be modest about.
As an advocate your Honour obeyed the cab-rank rule; sometimes at great personal sacrifice, taking long cases interstate and for all manner of litigants. Every client had the same level of service from your Honour, a thorough understanding of the facts, a meticulous case theory and a carefully considered advice.
Your Honour had been a founding member of New Chambers and a driving force along with Justice Thawley and others. Indeed, your Honour undertook the role as head of the floor from 2016 to '18. A strong theme today is how your Honour has been a great mentor; willing to discuss issues and provide practical advice. Your Honour took a genuine interest in the professional development and personal wellbeing of juniors and went out of the way to be encouraging and provide the most generous introductions and commendations.
For your Honour life outside of the law is spent with family, the puppy – still a puppy – and tending to your Honour's COVID plant collection. I'm informed of some pretension to still doing artwork but that that may be a cover for your Honour's aggressive art supplies acquisition syndrome. In more social times your Honour can enjoy yourself and known to be a vigorous dancer. Perhaps a throwback to the days growing up on Bungoona Avenue where all of the neighbours and their children were close friends and the site of many an enjoyable lunch and, I'm told, dancing on tables.
Your Honour has a large extended family, many of whom are here today, and the Bar joins Judge Scotting, your parents, children, siblings and extended family in celebrating your elevation to the Bench. On the Bench, as at the bar, your Honour will no doubt let the work do the talking. Your Honour, on behalf of the Australian Bars we extend the warmest of wishes for the years to come. May it please the Court.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr McHugh. Ms Warner, President of the Law Society of New South Wales and representing the Law Council of Australia.
MS WARNER: May it please the Court. I too acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, and I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and I would like to extend my respects to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait People who may be present today or watching this on the stream. I'm here today on behalf of the solicitors of New South Wales and the Law Council of Australia to offer congratulations and wish your Honour well in your appointment to the Federal Court of Australia.
Mindful of the very important role family has played in your Honour's life, I would like to acknowledge the many family members who join us today – and particularly your mum and dad and your children. Now, we have lots of spies who tell us things to put in our addresses and one person told me that the one thing that you can say about your Honour is, "She has kids. Lots of them." I was also cautioned about naming them all in case I missed anybody, which would be terrible, because your Honour loves them all so.
But today's speech could have been quite different, not to mention having been given by somebody else, because apparently there was a question about whether you would be doing law when you finished your HSC. You were confronted with the happy position of being able to do anything you wanted to do because you had such good grades. I'm told that your father, a gifted industrial chemist whose achievements included inventing paint – well, at least a type of paint – suggested your Honour should study medicine, but happily for the legal profession your Honour said no, and Arts/Law it was at Sydney as the compromise candidate, and that decision was a fortuitous one because for a person who was endlessly curious with a gift for language and a calm penetrating mind, studying law was one of the best decisions you could have made.
Your Honour was admitted to the role of solicitor in 1991 and worked at Blake Dawson Waldron in Sydney, and that experience was a formative one because while your Honour was called to the Bar within six years, you never forgot the experience of practising as a solicitor and senior associate, and had put the lessons you learned there to good use. Solicitors have been universal in their praise of your appointment. To quote one partner from a global law firm with a long association with your Honour:
It is rare to instruct someone so technically capable and yet so easy to deal with.
Your Honour has never neglected the so-called soft skills, although I think saying it, describing these skills as soft skills downplays the importance of them. The ability to listen, to empathise and to draw out are critically important skills for lawyers, and your Honour has that in spades. Your Honour also brings the strongest of commercial sense. Your Honour has been lauded for your legal capability and advisory insight. Indeed, according to one District Court Judge who claims some expertise on this subject, your Honour would make a brilliant company director.
So, that is your next career, and that is just not because your mastery of facts or the ability to become well-versed in topics as varied as diamond mines in South Africa, or the licensing requirements behind different brands of insurance, but because your Honour has a gift for commercial strategy and managing risk and for identifying the legal cog in the machine, but keeping the entire machine in sight. So, that has made you the silk of choice for commercial titans and industry heavyweights, but to quote one solicitor:
She views every case as if it was the most important case.
He also wanted to apologise for how much of your time he had taken up over the years with long phone calls and late-night meetings, drilling down the details of complex commercial cases. Your Honour has been a mentor to countless solicitors, both men and women, and to numerous solicitors considering a career at the Bar. Having been rewarded by taking a chance on the law, your Honour has always been keen, in the words of another legal practitioner:
To help people write their own adventures.
While serving as leader of the floor at New Chambers, your Honour was regarded as, and I am told this, something of an earth mother concerned not only about cases, but for people running them, but I have to say if it is an earth mother, I have only ever known you as an incredibly well dressed one, fond of a deep blue silk. In any event, your empathy and respect explain why so many barristers were willing to follow you to New Chambers. Your Honour is a leader within the profession and that leadership was definitely on display during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Your Honour took up new work during the first week of lockdown and negotiated everything from homework to working from home, different time zones and unreliable internet connections, but none of that held your Honour back.
In one memorable case, your Honour successfully obtained a permanent injunction in a matter for a commercial law firm in less than a month. Proceedings began on 30 April and the determination was handed down in your favour on 29 May. So, if COVID was the great slowdown, your Honour never got the memo. The solicitor that instructed your Honour praised your preternatural calm at a time when calm was in short supply, and this is just one of them many qualities that will assist you in your appointment to the bench. Your Honour will bring a wealth of knowledge, personal integrity and insight to the Federal Court of Australia.
The people of Australia are privileged to have you on this bench, and the solicitors in this country have every confidence that you will make an exceptional judicial officer. So, on behalf of the Law Council of Australia and The Law Society of New South Wales, congratulations, your Honour. As the court pleases.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Ms Warner. Justice Cheeseman.
CHEESEMAN J: I too begin my acknowledging and paying my respects to the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather today, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. Chief Justice Allsop, Attorney-General for the Commonwealth, Senator Cash, Judges, former Judges, colleagues, friends and family, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for coming today and thank you, Attorney-General Cash, Ms Warner and Mr McHugh for the alchemy which you have just performed in public. My deep thanks also to your informants for their largess, and, above all, for their discretion.
It is wonderful to have the support of so many people as I start out on this next phase. Together with my associates, Vanessa Cheeseman and Sosan Rahimi, I have been welcomed by the Judges and the staff of the Court in a way that has truly exceeded expectation. From the Bar, this Court has a reputation for being collegiate, and my view from the inside has confirmed it. Today is my chance to give my heartfelt thanks to the people without whose love, encouragement and support I would not be here today.
First and foremost, as you have all heard, is my family. At the risk of succumbing to my emotions on the starting blocks, I first wish to publicly thank my husband, Andrew Scotting, who you have heard I met in the Bar Readers' Course. Almost 25 years ago I made the decision to come to the Bar. It was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made. Almost 20 years ago I married Andrew. That was the best decision I ever made. As you have heard, we share three children, Sirena, Alex and Serafina, and a King Charles Cavalier, Ralph. I also have the joy of sharing the lives of Andrew's older daughters, Olivia and Lucinda. We are both so very proud of each of them and it must be said Ralph, who has not had much attention, is a most excellent dog.
Together we have forged a life that is crazy and chaotic, a rollicking circus where routine runs second to the crisis of the moment. To me, our life is simply perfect. To have a partner that gets the job, and, indeed, shares my passion for it, has been a true blessing. Today is as much about Andrew as it is about me. His support for me has been so much more than emotional. He is an outstanding lawyer and was a skilled barrister before he crossed the Rubicon some six years ago. He has put up with us being in different states for long periods of time. He has suffered holidays where I have to finish up that last advice or prep for the hearing that is on the other side of the holiday. A light sleeper, he rarely complains with my pre-dawn departures to go into work at what I refer to as "crazy o'clock". He has worked by my side and I by his. Late into the evenings he has been there changing nappies and rehearsing and correcting my cross-examination, often at the same time, there being a striking similarity in the subject matter of those two tasks.
His contribution on the nappy front abated over time, but, sadly, for Andrew, my need for his input on my preparation did not. I have watched Andrew grow in his present role in the Court and hope to emulate his judicial demeanour, work ethic and the respect with which he treats all who appear before him. I am very glad some of Andrew's judicial colleagues, including, of course, Judge Strathdee, my dearest friend from university, are here today to share it. That brings me to my parents, Peter and Margaret Cheeseman.
Mum and Dad have given me their unstinting love and support and opportunities of which they could not have dreamt. Dad was, as you have heard, by education an industrial chemist, first here and then in the US where he was lured into management, ultimately, ascending to the rank of group operations director, or, as he would remind us, GOD. Mum followed Dad to the United States with three children under four years of age. They returned from the US with four children under the age of five. A fifth child followed some 11 years later. In the end, Dad's career took him from Australia to Europe and many places in between.
Mum was a public-school primary teacher of the old school variety. Truly a vocational teacher. She had a profound influence on the lives of her students, and I clearly remember students from years past turning up over the years to update Mrs Cheeseman on where life after primary school had taken them. Mum and Dad are ferociously proud of their children; Scott, myself, Kim, Vanessa and Julie, and, by extension, our partners, Corinne, Andrew, Roy, Paul and Jeremy, and all their grandchildren who are here en masse today.
For Archie, aged eight, this is his first time in court. He is convinced, and I quote, "It's going to be thrilling." Rosie, aged six, an ardent Disney Frozen fan, is convinced that this is my coronation. I was tempted to pop downstairs and borrow Rees J's ermine and gloves so as not to disappoint. Evelyn, aged four, declared that in honour of the occasion, she was going to wear "undies and maybe even a dress". At 15, Matt is simply delighted to get the day off school. While Sarah and Emily would sooner have skipped the coronation to look after Ralph, the most excellent Cavalier.
At her welcome ceremony, Kate Williams J described her supporters as a "magnificent army". I have also conceived as mine as the epitome of the African saying, "It takes the village …" I see and raise you, Williams J, your magnificent army with the Village Cheeseman. It is an absolute ripper. I offer but one example to make that good. In 2002, I returned from my honeymoon at the age of 35, happily but somewhat unexpectedly expecting. I was due to appear in a trial in Perth some six weeks after the birth and although I had been told some years earlier when I took the brief, at which point I was single, footloose and fancy-free, that the trial may take about six weeks.
By 2001, it was fairly clear the trial may go a tad longer. I confided in Ashley Wharton, the senior partner on the case, that I was expecting and depending on his and the liquidator's expectations, I would do whatever it took to transition the brief to another junior. His response, after speaking to the liquidator, Tony Woodings, was to say, depending on my expectations, they would prefer that I kept the brief. I had no idea how that could possibly work. Andrew's daughters, Olivia and Lucy, and, indeed, his busy practice were here in New South Wales and now instead of just me racking up serious Frequent Flyer points, trekking across the Nullarbor, it was going to be me and a baby.
I relayed the dilemma to Mum and Dad. I said, "I will have to return the brief." Mum cut me off. She said, "No, you won't. I will come with you." And she did. And when Mum and Dad went overseas for six weeks, she organised for my Aunt Judy to take long service leave and to look after my daughter and, it must be said, me. My daughter, Sirena, was a Gold Frequent Flyer before she was two years old. Dad and Andrew criss-crossed the country, visiting whenever they could. The case ran beyond the six-week estimate.
By the time the hearing was over, we had welcomed our son, Alex. By the time the appeal was over, Serafina had arrived and our family was complete. The case I am referring to, which, like Voldemort, shall not be mentioned by name, ran for 404 days at first instance. Needless to say, it was not all beer and skittles. It was, in fact, really hard. I made some of my staunchest friends in the profession in that case. From the Bar, my dear friends, Terry Tobin QC and Julien Castaldi, and Terry's wife, Dr Bernadette Tobin. On the solicitors' side at the trial, Ashley Wharton, Ian Adrian, Wen-Tsai Lim, Angela Pearsall and Angela Hamersley, we shared a bond of the Stockholm variety. The appeal brought me the joy of working with Neil Young QC and James Barber of the Melbourne Bar and getting to know Neil's wife, Inga.
When my son, Alex, was four, he asked me when did I decide to become a barrister instead of a real mother. Ouch. In my defence, I grew up in a house where my mum worked, as did her mother before her. My grandmother, Rita Moriarty, lived with and looked after us from Monday to Friday. Mum was working full-time, often marking papers and preparing lesson plans late into the night. She had four children at school and, by the time I was in year 10, a new baby as well. The Cheesemans would not have thrived without my nan over those years. The Scottings would barely survive without the help of our family. I give each of them my sincere thanks. I hope when statutory senility kicks in, I will be able to pay it down the line in looking after my own grandchildren.
Also present today are my cousin, Rebecca Berry, and her husband, Peter, my longstanding friends, Robin Lindner and Tanya Leishman. Trevor and Lisa Wheeler, and my extended family and the Bungoona clan are with us in spirit and virtually. You all know what you mean to me. The natural bridge between my family and work is personified by my sister, Vanessa, my EA for the last five years in chambers. I am so glad that I was able to persuade her to continue with me in my new role. It says everything about Vanessa that when news of my appointment broke at New Chambers the first thing I was asked by many of my colleagues was, "Is Vanessa going with you?" I will ever be grateful to Vanessa that you did not succumb to the poachers that would have had you stay at New Chambers. I also acknowledge Sosan Rahimi, my first associate. In the short space of time we have been here Sosan has shown me that one of the great things I have to look to forward to in this role is working with the next generation of talented lawyers.
My final theme, if you will, is to express my gratitude for what has been a terrific life at the Bar. One of the letters I received on my appointment admonished me to not forget what it is like at the coalface. All I can say is that I hope I never do; it has been one of the great joys of my life. Put quite simply, I have loved being at the Bar – and the New South Wales Bar in particular. I learned early at the elbow of Mark Williams SC, my tutor, to put your all into it but to leave it on the field – even when your opponent was the master of the broken field opportunity, like Tony Bannon SC – I will miss it enormously.
I had opportunities, as you've heard, as a solicitor at Blake Dawson Waldron. I am pleased to say that Hugh Keller, the partner that was responsible for giving me the first opportunity, is here today. It was the era of the special sittings and the rough and tumble of the commercial list which was rough and there were plenty of tumbles. Michael McSweeney, Paul Ready and Annette English – comrades in arms from those years – are here with us today. As is David McGuinness, who was the first solicitor to brief me, delivering a brief on my first day in chambers after completing the reader's course.
Many years later it was a result of briefs I received from Blakes that I had the opportunity to first work with Penelope Kelton and Jonathon Ellis – two alumni of that firm who I have continued to work with over many years – together with Conrad Gray of ASIC; they exemplify the best of the solicitor arm of the profession and the power of the working relationship between solicitors and counsel in both assisting the Court and in serving and advancing the interests of the client.
That first brief, as you've heard from David McGuinness, ultimately resulted in a junior brief with David Jackson QC and the late Chris Gee QC in the High Court. The brief led to my invitation to join the then newly establish 7 Wentworth annex, later to membership of 7 Wentworth and ultimately to being a founding member of New Chambers. I have been in chambers with David Jackson, as you have heard, for over 20 years: I am honoured by his presence here today.
With the establishment of New Chambers in 2015 Arthur Moses SC came into the fold. I count myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be in chambers with Arthur; his leadership of the profession in New South Wales and nationally has been inspirational. He is also an Eels supporter like my father, for which I forgive him.
In 2016, as you've heard, I succeeded David Jackson as the Head of New Chambers; it was a humbling experience. So too my role on the Bar's Practice Development Committee. I enjoyed working closely with the real engine of Phillip Street, the New South Wales Clerks, and in particular the irrepressible Michele Kearns, Angela Noakes and Emma Houlihan.
I have strived to advance the interests of the junior bar. They are, to employ a classic Jackson understatement, "In the main, quite able." They are exceptionally good value; and I mean that in the economic as well as the colloquial sense. Without ceding responsibility for the workload and the strategy of a case I have sought to encourage my juniors to take a witness or part of the argument. I know some do not agree with that course, but I believe there are many cases where it is not only appropriate to do so, it positively improves the presentation of the case.
At my peril I will break with tradition by singling out some of the juniors who have contributed so much to my enjoyment of life at the bar. Jarrod White, Tom Prince, Casper Conde, Jennifer English, Greg O'Mahoney, Hayley Bennett, Stephanie Patterson and the unstoppable Daniel Habashy. Thank you, it has been a privilege. I look forward to following each of your trajectories from my new vantage point.
I once gifted one of my juniors a t-shirt with the slogan that perfectly captured his tutelage of me as his leader. The slogan said, "I can explain it to you, but I cannot understand it for you." It was Tom Prince. I'm not sure if Tom is here today – he is appearing in the New South Wales Court of Appeal this morning before Justices Basten, Meagher and Leeming. I just hope quietly that he's wearing the t-shirt.
I will greatly miss my colleagues at the Bar and everyone at New Chambers, especially our receptionist Samantha De Costa; the beating heart of the floor. I take some solace in the fact that it is at least possible that I may have the opportunity to be the junior member of a New Chambers Full Court at some point in the future. I will end as I began, with Andrew. How lucky are we to have made this life together? It is an honour to have been appointed to this Court; I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Justice Cheeseman. The Court will now adjourn.