Ceremonial sitting of the Full Court
TO WELCOME THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE FEUTRILL
THE HONOURABLE JAMES ALLSOP AO, Chief Justice
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE BANKS-SMITH
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE JACKSON
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE ANDERSON
THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE FEUTRILL
GUESTS OF THE BENCH
The Honourable Robert Nicholson AO
The Honourable Antony Siopis SC
The Honourable Neil McKerracher QC
4.30 PM, TUESDAY, 10 MAY 2022
ALLSOP CJ: Yes. Call the matter, please.
ASSOCIATE: The Court’s welcome to the Honourable Justice Feutrill.
ALLSOP CJ: Welcome to this ceremonial sitting of the Court to welcome the Honourable Justice Michael Feutrill to the Court. May I say how delighted I am to be back in Perth after a year. May I first acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. Sitting with Justice Feutrill and me on the bench today are the Judges of the Western Australian District Registry, Justice Banks-Smith, Justice Jackson and Justice Feutrill, together with Justice Anderson from the Victorian District Registry who is here on appeal work. Justice Colvin is on country in a Native Title matter and cannot be here today. We are also particularly delighted to have former colleagues sitting with us on the bench today, former justices, the Honorable Robert Nicholson AO, the Honourable Antony Siopis SC and the Honourable Neil McKerracher QC.
Justice Feutrill, may I particularly welcome your family, your mother and father, Jill and Doug, your wife, Thirza, your two daughters and son, Izzy, Rose and Henry, your mother in law, Mrs Ruth Hillen and other family. And may I acknowledge the presence today in Court of the Honourable Justice Graeme Murphy of the Court of Appeal of Western Australia, the Honourable Justice Ken Martin of the Supreme Court, the Honourable Justice Jenni Hill of the Supreme Court, the Honourable Justice Marcus Solomon of the Supreme Court, her Honour the Chief Judge of the District Court of Western Australia, the Honourable Julie Ann Wager and former Judges of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, the Honourable Neville Owen and the Honourable Rene Le Miere QC. May I also acknowledge the presence and who is speaking, the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Honourable Michaelia Cash.
Justice Feutrill, on behalf of all the Judges of the Court I formally extend the warmest possible welcome to you on the Court. You have been in harness now for some months and I do hope you are enjoying the work as much as I am sure you will. It is a collegiate friendly Court with challenging work and I am sure you will enrich the Court with your energy, talent and skill.
Attorney-General for the Commonwealth.
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL: May it please the Court. It is a great privilege to be here today in my home State of Western Australia to congratulate your Honour on your appointment as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. Your Honour’s appointment to this Court is yet another success in your career. That so many of your colleagues in the judiciary and legal profession are joining us here today is a testament to the high esteem in which your colleagues hold your Honour. May I also acknowledge Chief Justice Allsop and current and former members of the Federal Court of Australia, Chief Judge Wager, and current and former members of the WA judiciary, and members of the legal profession. May I also though particularly acknowledge the presence of your Honour’s family. Your beautiful wife, Thirza, and your children, Izzy, Henry and Rose, who incidentally, I introduced myself as Cash, Tex and Cruise’s aunty Micky. And they went, “Yes. Yes. Now we know who you are”. And your parents, Doug and Jill, whom I have had the opportunity to speak with. And I don’t need to tell you just how proud they are of you.
May I also acknowledge the many other family members, including your mother-in-law, who is here, friends and colleagues today who proudly share this occasion with you. Your Honour was born into a family that has farmed land in the south-west of Western Australia for several generations. I am told strong values, including the importance of hard work and personal responsibility were instilled in you and your siblings at a young age. From the age of eight, your Honour attended Guildford Grammar School, a school that also educated former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, the Honourable David Malcolm AC QC, and the Honourable Sir Francis Burt AC, KCMG, QC. I am told you had a likeable cheekiness and confidence that made an impression. And that suggested your Honour just might be going somewhere.
Your Honour emerged as a clear leader, I am advised, in the boarding school environment, often supporting other boarders who were missing their families during the school term. Your Honour went on to be captain of the school and head of cadets. This, I am told, is an uncommon combination and each required very different leadership styles, at which your Honour excelled. Authoritative command for the cadet unit, but then balanced with a more community-minded approach as captain of the school. It has been remarked that your Honour had a sharp intellect and during your Honour’s time at Guildford Grammar, this was exercised by debating teachers and fellow students on any subject. I am also advised that to fully train those debating schools, your Honour would sometimes dig in on a position, even if that position defied logic or reason, and come up with elaborate arguments to support it. It is no wonder your Honour went on to study law.
In 1996, your Honour gradated from the University of Western Australia, with a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Law, and went on to obtain a Masters of Laws in 2007. During your time at university, I am advised that a friend convinced your Honour to work at a telesales company. Your Honour may not remember this because I am also advised that your Honour lasted exactly one shift. At this time, your Honour though was partway through your degrees in economics and law. I am told that this experience may have been a turning point in your Honour in deciding pass on the corporate sales career and to instead dedicate yourself to a life in the law.
Upon graduating, your Honour began your career as a Solicitor at a boutique litigation firm, later joining Freehills – now, Herbert Smith Freehills in 1999. Your Honour was called to the Bar in 2002 and appeared as counsel in the superior courts, often instructed by both international and local firms on a wide range of commercial matters. For most of the period from 2002 until 2016, your Honour was a Barrister at Francis Burt Chambers. From 2007 until 2009, your Honour worked as an advocate with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s international arbitration group in
Paris, where I’m told your Honour developed a strong interest in French wines. From 2016, your Honour was a Barrister at Quayside Chambers and served on its board. I am told this: as a founding member of Quayside Chambers, your Honour was a key figure in its establishment.
As would be expected in setting up any new business, each member has several tasks and responsibilities of varying difficulties and importance. I am advised, though, that your Honour was given just one – just one responsibility: to ensure, and I quote, the stable and effective operation of a new printer. Now, I don’t need to explain to people the importance of the new printer. Clearly, though, we do need to explain it to your Honour because I understand that when Quayside’s doors opened, the chambers started with what was described to me as a second-hand, clapped-out photocopier, the likes of which had not been seen since the 1950s. The situation, I’m also told, was soon rectified, and I’m told to this day your Honour will say, “But hold on. No one noticed.” They did, by the way.
Your Honour’s colleagues have described your work as a Barrister being marked by industrious diligence, the relentless pursuit of complete comprehension of each case, and fair dealings with your opponent. As a testament to your Honour’s commitment and dedication to the legal profession, your Honour was appointed Senior Counsel in 2018. Your Honour’s contribution to the law prior to your appointment featured in several important and high-profile cases, your last appearance being before the Royal Commission into the Casino Industry, an inquiry garnering your Honour national attention.
Your Honour is also an honorary fellow of the University of Western Australia Law School where your Honour taught international commercial arbitration and international investment in mineral resources. Through this role, many students and practitioners, I am advised, sought your assistance with their professional lives. I am also advised that your assistance and engagement with them led them to opportunities with leading law firms. In fact, I was told that on news of your appointment, one former student wrote how your Honour’s offers of work was a life-changing event for them. Throughout your career, your Honour has also been a member of various committees and associations, including the Western Australia Bar Association, the International Bar Association, and the Legal Practice Complaints Committee. Your Honour was also a director of both the Perth Centre for Energy and Resources Arbitration Limited and the Fremantle Port Authority for eight years.
Your Honour’s friends and family describe you as a highly principled person, with a strong moral compass and work ethic. I am advised that your Honour takes on such focus when completing every task or project and that this focus has now garnered its own expression: Feutrill tunnel vision. Despite your Honour’s intellect and immense ability to reason, however, I am also told that you would, and I quote, fail miserably on any modern game show. While your Honour would surely excel at any questions related to history, geography or science, your knowledge of popular culture is apparently close to non-existent.
This makes your Honour an unusual dinner guest, I’m told, as I’m advised your Honour waits for your opportunity to steer the conversation into some discourse on the moral or ethical dilemma that has been occupying your mind for that week. That is, though, qualified by this. Unless you’re doing Monty Python impersonations or recounting a D-Generation segment, the 1980s, I understand, being the last time your Honour watched television for entertainment. Nevertheless, your family has described your Honour as being able to appreciate differing perspectives on life, having lived, worked, travelled and socialised in different locations and cultures. Many can attest that in your career your Honour has demonstrated diligence, a formidable work ethic, and a pervading sense of fairness. These attributes, together with your Honour’s legal expertise, will place you in great stead to handle the matters that will come before your Honour in this Court.
Outside of the law, I’m advised that your Honour was a keen Aussie Rules footballer and rower. Your Honour has been described as having above-average natural athletic talents which, when combined with your tenacity, make you a formidable opponent on the sporting field. In addition to sport, I’ve also been informed that your Honour has enjoyed brewing your own beer, playing guitar, listening to Pink Floyd, but beautifully, returning to the family farm whenever possible. These days, I am told, your Honour spends almost all of your spare time with your family, but won’t pass up the opportunity for a philosophical debate whenever the opportunity presents.
Your Honour takes on this role with the very best wishes of the Australian legal profession. They trust that you will approach the role diligently and with the exceptional dedication to the law that you have already shown throughout your life and your career. I extend to you, on behalf of the Australian Government, my sincerest congratulations on your appointment to the Federal Court of Australia. May it please the Court.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Madam Attorney. Mr Brahma Dharmananda SC, Vice-President of the Western Australian Bar Association and representing the Australian Bar Association.
MR B. DHARMANANDA SC: Thank you, your Honour. May I also acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Whadjuk people, who form part of the Noongar clan. I also pay my respects to their elders, past, present and emerging. To my right, we can see the banks of the Swan River, or is it perhaps the sea or the ocean? That beautiful sight reminds us of how lucky we are as a nation and of the gratitude we should have to be able to meet and work here. On behalf of the Australian Bar Association and the West Australian Bar Association, it’s my privilege and pleasure to speak at this official welcome of the Honourable Justice Feutrill.
As Justice Marcus Solomon reminded us last year at his Honour’s welcome to the Supreme Court, citing from the work of Associate Professor Heather Roberts, that ceremony matters, the purpose of welcome ceremonies is, in essence, to ensure that the Court is seen as transparent, open to all, and that Judges appointed to the Court are properly selected and will maintain the integrity of the system and the rule of law. Those purposes are well served today. Justice Feutrill, if I may so, with respect, is an outstanding appointment to the Court. May I say on behalf of the ABA and the WA Bar, again, with great respect, your Honour will serve the administration of justice and the rule of law with great fortitude, given all of your Honour’s qualities. I had the pleasure of working with your Honour on a number of big cases. Your Honour is a person of high intellectual calibre and has great ability.
Your Honour has sound judgment, good common sense, and high morality. That is why the ABA and the WA Bar know well that your Honour will serve the administration of justice with fortitude, dignity, and acuity. Your Honour has a great capacity for hard work. You are able to analyse the issues in a case with care. And your Honour always, always mastered your brief including every little detail. When briefed on a case, your Honour would work tirelessly. You would never give up, honing in on and analysing a point to ensure that nothing was missed and to make sure the best argument was developed. If a case was against us but could be distinguished, you would push to find the point of distinction. I’m reminded of a case where we were working together with one of Perth’s finest Queen’s counsel.
Your Honour developed – nay, your Honour went along with an argument that was made which sought to distinguish Salomon v Salomon, that great case about a company’s separate corporate personality. The honourable Neville Owen was presiding. We won the case, but I’m not sure the honourable Neville Owen accepted the particular point. Your Honour’s interests and passion are not confined to the law. Your Honour reads widely with an ever-searching mind. Your Honour revels in the process of trying to understand the answers to the big questions and about how our species came to be what it is. Even if Iain McGilchrist’s wonderful work The Master and His Emissary is not yet a primer for all Judges of this Court, I know your Honour has been captivated by the book.
The difference between the left and right sides of our brains is a topic that interests your Honour greatly. In The Master and His Emissary, McGilchrist points to how without batting an eye the left hemisphere grows mistaken conclusions from information available to it and lays down the law about what only the right hemisphere can know. The ABA and the WA Bar are confident that your Honour will decide cases based on the evidence, not with the left hemisphere-driven ability at confabulation. Given your Honour’s attention to detail, there is little risk of your Honour jumping to conclusions without sound reason. Your Honour finds time to meditate, I understand, on more or less a daily basis. This may or may not explain your Honour’s calm and fair disposition.
Your Honour has seen most things before and has a deep understanding of the human condition and of human frailty. Your Honour also has a farming background. I understand your Honour is now involved in avocado farming. Again, this tells of your Honour’s breadth and width. Your Honour has never been caught only in the minutiae of the law, and you always bring a broader perspective to any issue that confronts you. One of my colleagues at your Honour’s old chambers which you were involved in founding suggested that I remind your Honour about when your Honour was tasked with acquiring with a new photocopier for the new chambers.
Your Honour caused the photocopier to be delivered right on time, save that it was a second-hand machine. That will no doubt have generated a Federal claim within this Court’s jurisdiction, at least under section 39(1A)(c) of the Judiciary Act. I say no more about that. I told my colleague that I was not going to mention this. It has already been mentioned by the Attorney-General. And may I say something more about your Honour’s interest in physics and quantum mechanics. In a recent book, Carlo Rovelli, a great Italian physicist, when describing Schrodinger’s Cat postulates two states for the cat, asleep or awake. Rovelli shuns the idea that in one state the cat might be dead. Rovelli’s approach reflects your Honour’s approach. Your Honour is meticulous in applying the law, but your Honour always brings a compassionate disposition to that task. I’m reminded about what Chief Justice Bell, the Chief Justice of New South Wales, said at his welcome in March this year. Chief Justice Bell observed:
To be appointed a Judge is a high calling. A Judge’s work is difficult work. Judging is not for the faint hearted. It is for the strong hearted. It takes strength to make difficult decisions. It takes strength to deal with the sheer volume of work before the courts, but –
the Chief Justice went on:
…but this strength must be tempered by lived understanding of human nature, compassion, respect, and empathy, and an innate sense of fairness both in terms of substantive outcome and the procedure by reference to which that substantive outcome is achieved.
Your Honour, the ABA and the WA Bar have little doubt that you will fulfill the role as a Judge of this Court with both strength and a lived understanding of human nature with compassion, empathy, and fairness. May it please the Court.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Dharmananda.
Before calling on Mr Tass Liveris to speak on behalf of the Law Council of Australia, may I acknowledge in Court three people I should have acknowledged earlier: the Solicitor-General of Western Australia, Mr Joshua Thompson SC. Mr Ante Golem, the Senior Vice President of the Law Society of Western Australia on whose behalf Mr Liveris will be speaking. And Ms Clare Thompson SC, President for Womens Lawyers of Western Australia who announced her commission as silk this morning in the Court.
Mr Liveris, on behalf of the Law Council of Australia and the Western Australian Law Society.
MR T. LIVERIS: May it please the Court. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the country on which we all meet, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and community. I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging, and I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today. It is a great honour for me to represent the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of Western Australia to welcome your Honour’s appointment to this honourable Court. I thank the Court for permitting my appearance to be made by audio-visual link.
The Law Council comments the Commonwealth and particularly Attorney-General Michaelia Cash on prioritising appointments to the judiciary, particularly in terms of ensuring the timely replacement of retiring Judges. As has been detailed, academically and in legal practice, your Honour has established a formidable reputation and you bring to the Court over 20 years experience in complex commercial litigation, energy and resources infrastructure arbitration, corporations insolvency and insurance disputes, just to name some. Upon your appointment as senior counsel in 2018, then Law Society of Western Australia president Hayley Cormann said:
Appointment to senior counsel is a rare honour granted to those practitioners who have demonstrated eminence in the practice of law, especially in advocacy, together with unquestioned integrity, availability and independence.
These are the very attributes that of course also make your Honour so worthy of appointment to this Court, and so well placed to fulfill the critically important and demanding work of a Judge. I acknowledge and thank your Honour for the contribution that you have made to our profession as a practitioner and as a volunteer. You have been a loyal and long-standing member of the Law Society, first becoming a member shortly after your admission to practice. Members of the Law Council’s constituent bodies play a vital part in guiding the Law Council in the development of policy and advocacy in relation to legal practice, and I recognise your Honour’s ongoing involvement with this work through your volunteer efforts with the Law Society over many, many years.
Your Honour has also participated in the Law Society’s CBD program, including delivering papers to the society’s law summer school. You have provided pro bono assistance for law access. You have contributed to the Law Society’s brief journal, and you have served on Law Society committees such as the Young Lawyers Committee, this in addition to your Honour’s work as an honorary fellow of the UWA Law School that the Attorney-General referred to. One of your colleagues recently told me in a frank assessment of your Honour that particularly resonated with me that part of the reason you are so highly respected in that, in their words:
In the competitive world of hard-fought litigation, where there is a common tendency to inflexible aggression, Justice Feutrill showed an uncommon decency and flexible humanity, recognising that there but for the grace of God go we all.
It is clear that this is a commonly held view of your Honour. When your appointment was announced in December last year, your Honour’s colleagues confidently anticipated that you would bring these qualities, as well as your strong work ethic and intellectual rigour, to judicial office. In the two or so months since your Honour commenced that work, you have delivered judgments in a range of matters and, importantly, you have shown the expectations of your peers to be entirely correct. Your Honour is renowned for your work ethic, and you did not have a moment to break stride between finishing practice and joining the Court. Indeed, the Perth Casino Royal Commission delivered its final report on Friday 4 March, and your Honour’s appointment to this Court commenced on Tuesday 8 March.
It was at first thought that your Honour might be rewarding yourself with an uncharacteristic day off between jobs, before it was of course remembered that the Monday was a public holiday, and that you were doing no such thing. Your Honour is a hard and concentrated worker that one colleague also light-heartedly joked that, at your farewell party, there were possibly fellow members of chambers you did not recognise because you were so focused each day on the task at hand. Your Honour, on behalf of the legal profession, congratulations. The people of Australia will be privileged to be served by you in this new role. May it please the Court.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Mr Liveris. Justice Feutrill.
FEUTRILL J: Thank you, Chief Justice. Thank you, Attorney-General, Mr Dharmananda and Mr Liveris for your kind words. Present and former Judges of the Court, justices of the Supreme Court, Chief Judge Julie Wager, and other Judges of the District Court, other distinguished guests, members of the profession, family and friends. Thank you all for doing me the honour of your attendance today and running the gauntlet of COVID which has played somewhat havoc with the guest list.
I should also like to commence by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation. And I pay my respects to their elders past and present. At this point, I would like to observe that his acknowledgement is no mere formality and to underscore an obvious, but significant matter, that this Court is a Court for all people whose claims fall within its jurisdiction. First nation peoples and migrant peoples, citizens and non-citizens. Like all Judges of this Court, I promised to do right to all manner of people according to the law, without fear, favour, affection or ill will. And that, is what I intend to do.
Attorney-General, may I extend my gratitude to you and the government for the honour that you have bestowed on me, and the trust and confidence that you have reposed in me. I cannot promise that I will meet my responsibilities in accordance with your expectations, but I can assure you that I will endeavour to discharge my duties to the very best of my ability.
It is customary on occasions such as this for the new Judge to thank the many people who have contributed to the Judge’s career and eventual judicial appointment. I will follow that custom, but before embarking on that exercise, I wish to acknowledge the single greatest factor in my appointment has been good fortune.
As the proverb goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Or in more modern parlance, everyone is a product of their environment. I would surely not be sitting here today without the luck of landing in my village. To have had the carefree and adventurous childhood that I had, the loving and supportive parents and family I have had, the education I have had, the wonderful friends I have made, the extraordinary legal tutelage I have received, to have met and married Thirza and to have had the three amazing children I’ve had is all down to dumb luck. I neither earned nor deserved any of my good fortune, but I can tell you that few days go by when I do not appreciate it and recognise there are many in our community that have not had the same opportunities or luck as me. Now, I will begin the long list of thank yous and I do hope you can bear with me as this may take some time.
Can I begin by thanking all those who sent me their best wishes. I have been humbled and touched by all of them and I can’t be sure that I’ve responded to you all, but whether I have or I have not, please accept my sincere thanks for your notes of congratulation. I also thank my new judicial colleagues who extended a warm and generous welcome to me since I joined the Court. The convivial and collegiate nature of the Court was not a surprise, but has been welcome and notable all the same.
As this is a speech in reply and taking into account my judicial oath, it would be remiss of me not to recalibrate some of what has been said with a more accurate statement of truth. In truth, I am not a naturally gifted lawyer. Unlike many of my colleagues at the Bar, I did not take to the law like a duck to water. Developing legal skills has been hard work and remains very much a work in progress. As my good friend and colleague Brahma Dharmananda SC himself has been fond of pointing out, at least when he is present, I am certainly not the smartest person in the room. At law school, there were no signs that the judicial office lay ahead. I was, at best, an average student of the law. Let’s say, given the presence of my children, I had other interests.
Also, the truth is I was a reluctant lawyer. As a parting gift from Quayside Chambers, I was given an illustrated copy of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. In fact, it’s a children’s book. Indeed, Mr Kanaga Dharmananda SC assured me that pictures were necessary in my case to prevent boredom and to assist comprehension. As it turns out, unbeknown to my chambers colleagues, I’m not a complete philistine. The Road Not Taken is in fact one of my favourite poems, and reflects some of the threads of my own life.
Farming was a road I would have liked to have taken, but the economic circumstances of our family farm in the late 1980s rendered that path unrealistic. So reluctantly, I chose the legal road, and as in Frost’s poem, I was sorry I could not travel both. But the legal path was just as fair; another stroke of good luck. The truth is I’ve been able to make the most of what talent for the law I was given through application and the benefit of an exceptionally good education and legal tutelage.
My parents made a substantial financial and emotional sacrifice to send me to boarding school in Perth. There, my eyes were opened to a world beyond a small country town, and the seeds of a legal career were sown through exposure to the school’s alumni. And the Attorney-General has already mentioned the Honourable Sir Francis Burt AC KCMG QC, and the Honourable David Malcolm AC QC, but I also wish to mention the Honourable John Wickham QC, all of whom had maintained their connections with their old school and provided role models for students of my era. It was during my school days I had the good fortune to meet Major Ted Grey. He taught maths and outdoor education, and he was the CO of the school’s army cadet unit. He and his late wife Margie were like second parents to me, and to hundreds of other boarders of our generation. Ted taught me nearly everything I’ve ever learned about leadership, courage and self-reliance, and I am honoured that he is here today.
After school, I was accepted into the economics and law faculties of UWA and I attended St George’s College. During school and the six years of university, I made life-changing and life-lasting friendships, and again, I am honoured that most of those friends are here today.
After university, I fell into a job working for Tim Cocks and Graeme McNish. The firm, Cocks McNish, was a busy commercial and maritime litigation practice. It was there I met my good friend Jamie Stranger. We were both articled to Graeme. He was a hard taskmaster, but whatever label might now be used to describe his methods, the means ultimately justified the ends. With self-confidence somewhat diminished, we emerged from his training with a well-developed understanding of the serious nature of the practice of law, and how to go about doing it properly. I will always be grateful to Tim and Graeme for giving me a go, and the opportunity to start my legal career working almost every day in Court. I would also like to acknowledge my appreciation for the opportunities and legal education afforded to me by Steven Penglis SC and Paul Evans when I was a Solicitor in the employ of Freehill, Hollingdale & Page, now Herbert Smith Freehills. It was also there I first met Justice Banks-Smith and the Attorney-General.
Steven and Paul were also instrumental in securing me the opportunity to join the Bar and Francis Burt Chambers as a pupil of Chris Zelestis QC and Craig Colvin SC, as his Honour then was. It was at the Bar that my legal education really commenced in earnest. Between Chris Zelestis and Justice Colvin, I received the best instruction any junior Barrister could hope for. The opportunities afforded to me by Chris Zelestis, in particular, to work on difficult and complex commercial cases with leading law firms was a career-changing and invaluable experience, without which I very much doubt I would have been considered for this office. I’m also grateful for the instruction and guidance I received in law and in life from other notable silks with whom I have had the good fortune to work, namely, the Honourable Justice Graeme Murphy and Duncan Miller SC, and, I have already mentioned in passing, Brahma and Kanaga Dharmananda.
The board and members of Francis Burt Chambers were also very good to me over many years. I am particularly grateful for the allowances and accommodation given to me between 2007 and 2009 which permitted me to spend two and a half years working with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris. That opportunity was itself the serendipitous result of my colleague and friend, Simon Davis, putting me in touch with a friend of his from university who happened to be a partner of Freshfields. I should also mention, again, at this point, Kanaga Dharmananda, without whose friendship and encouragement I probably would not have taken up that opportunity. That experience was transformative. I believe that a number of my colleagues from that time are tuning in through the Teams link and thank you for staying up or waking up wherever you are, and I hope to see you again as soon as travel permits.
More recently, as you have heard, I was one of the counsel assisting the Perth Casino Royal Commission. I wish to thank the commissioners, the Honourable Neville Owen, the Honourable Lindy Jenkins and Mr Colin Murphy PSM for the opportunity to work with and learn from them, and for providing me with inspiration for judicial office. It was one of the most fulfilling roles I performed as a Barrister. I also wish to thank Patricia Cahill SC and the other counsel assisting, the team of Solicitors assisting and all the other Commission staff for the collegiate and cooperative work environment we shared and all their hard work during that inquiry.
I appeared before the Honourable Neville Owen on my first contested application as an article clerk in 1996. Therefore, it seems fitting that my last role as a Barrister was to assist him as counsel. Not only as chair of the commissioners, but throughout his judicial career, the Honourable Neville Owen provided me with a judicial model I can but hope to emulate.
Thank you all – to all those I’ve mentioned for your instruction, guidance and friendship. But I also thank the many others that I have not had time to mention. You’ve all given me training and counsel along the way and it has been much appreciated. That, of course, includes the many junior Barristers with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working over the last few years, all of whom have done an outstanding job of making me look far more knowledgeable and learned than is truly the case. Here, I must also thank Frida Barbas, who has been my personal assistant for almost 10 years. Not only for all the work she has done for me, but for ensuring that my feet remain firmly on the ground.
I would also like to thank the Solicitors who have instructed me. As a Barrister, it was always something of a mystery as to how or why a brief materialised. It was a pleasant surprise when it arrived and yet more pleasant when the Solicitor later returned with another. Thank you for the faith you’ve shown in me and entrusting me with your client’s cases over the last 20 years.
Another moment of good fortune came my way when I, along with seven others, formed Quayside Chambers. The creation of Quayside marked the beginning of the happiest period of my legal career up to this point. I thank all members of Quayside for your friendship, encouragement and support over the last five years.
I am also proud to be following in the footsteps of a former member of Quayside, who served with a distinction as a Judge of this Court for many years. I am, of course, referring to the Honourable John Gilmour QC, whose life was sadly cut short last year. After retiring from this Court, John joined Quayside where he made an immediate positive contribution to chambers life and provided me personally with much sage advice.
The home stretch. I now turn to family and friends. My wife, Thirza, is my partner in every sense of that word. She complements and completes me, which is another way of saying she makes up for my deficiencies. Thirza has maintained her general medical practice, assisted in surgery, almost single-handedly raised our children and supported – or more accurately – enabled my obsessive and long working hours for more than 20 years. Without her, I could not and would not have ben able to take advantage of the legal opportunities that have come my way.
My children, Izzy, Henry and Rose – I’m so glad that you are here today to hear some nice things said about me. I do not expect it will move you to do the same, but if this event has aroused any sense of pride in you, it may give you an inkling of the great joy and satisfaction I take in all that you do and all that you have done from the moment each of you came into this world.
Earlier, I mentioned the sacrifices my parents made for my education. I am very grateful that they are here today and I really appreciate all that they have done for me over the years. They have set a fine example of a life lived with honesty, integrity, hard work and community service. My brother Andrew and his wife Neisha, who unfortunately could not be here today; my brother Brian and his wife Robyn; my sister Jackie and her husband Chris – I thank each of you for your unwavering love and support over many years.
As a family, we’re not given to displays of affection and we tend not to live in each other’s pockets, but I’ve always drawn comfort and strength from knowing that there is no doubt I can trust and depend on each of you if and whenever the need should arise. This is a statement that applies equally to my large extended family. I mention, in particular, John and Helen Feutrill, Bill Feutrill and his late wife, Glenys, and cousins Libby, Julia, Sally, Katie and Tom who collectively have welcomed me into the fold of the Perth branch of the family from the time I first arrived here as a 12 year old child.
I would also like to acknowledge Thirza’s mother Ruth, brother Duncan, his wife Sophie and long-time Hillen family friends, Skip and Anne Groman. This group has shared the highs and carried me through the lows of my life at the Bar. Thank you for your friendship, guidance, support and encouragement.
To complete my village, may I thank all my old and more recent friends for your attendance. Some of you, I know, have travelled a fair way to be here. Whether near or far, I’m grateful for your effort. Otherwise, it has been fun so far and long may – I hope it may continue.
I should like to close with a reflection of the last three lines from Frost’s poem, which, I think, capture the essence of the notion of good fortune that I’ve made the central theme of this reply:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Thank you, Chief Justice.
ALLSOP CJ: Thank you, Justice Feutrill. The Court will now adjourn.