Welcome to The Honourable Justice Terence Forrest

Date: 12 Nov 2009
Venue: 
Author/Organisation: Danny Barlow, President, Law Institute of Victoria
  • May it please the Court.
  • I appear on behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria, and the solicitors of this State, to congratulate Your Honour on your appointment to this Court.
  • The Age newspaper article on Your Honour’s appointment – and, incidentally, that of Justice Emerton, and of Magistrates Armour, O’Donnell and Vandersteen – was headed, in bold font:  “Barry Hall’s brief appointed Supreme Court Judge”.
  • Five judicial officers – and the headline is “Barry Hall’s brief”!  As Justice Emerton, commented at her welcome three weeks ago, Age readers were invited to celebrate the five judicial appointments by re-living the drama of the 2005 grand final.
  • Equally there is, of course, the distortion of that one rather straightforward case four years ago being presented as the pinnacle of Your Honour’s 30 years in practice.
  • Articled clerks at Galbally & O’Bryan are told on their first day that, no matter what other extended hours they may work, they are to be in before 9 every day, so as to be actually working at 9 – and they are not to stop work until 10 past 5.  This is stressed.
  • Peter O’Bryan’s office was near the front door.  On only your second day, he saw you coming in at quater past 9. He questioned you as to whether you were arriving late.
  • Quick as a flash – with your characteristic broad, disarming smile – you responded:  “No boss,”

Mr O’Bryan remembers this particularly, because he’d not been addressed as “boss” before –

You went on -“I’m not late.  I’ve been in an hour.  I just stepped out to get a packet of smokes.”

  • “May I see the packet, please?”
  • As you pulled out a well worn and half-empty packet you smiled and said – “There’s a hell of a lot of bots in this place boss.”
  • Another Galballys partner summed Your Honour up as “the loveable larrikin” – brilliant, with a great sense of humour.
  • One instance of brilliance that immediately sprung to mind was in connection with the Krope murder trial in 1978.
  • Gloria Krope was the reigning Miss Australia.  Her brother, Bill, had killed their father – in self-defence he claimed – with 27 bullets!  Their mother was charged with conspiracy to murder, after she had gone on television saying the killing was a good idea.
  •  It was Your Honour – at the very beginning of your year’s articles with Frank Galbally- “Mr Frank” – who picked up a key factor – a change in the handwriting in the police notes.
  • Jeremy Ruskin tells a story of what took place following the “not guilty” verdicts which were delivered in the Supreme Court:

The enthusiastic young articled clerk, Terry Forrest . . . raced up to “Mr Frank”
“Congratulations Mr Frank!” –
“ Thank you, Tony” –
“It’s Terry, Mr Frank” –
“Of course, Terry.  Now listen carefully, Terry.  Bill Krope, his mother, and his sister
and I are going to walk down Lonsdale Street to St Francis’s Church to thank God for what He – and I – have achieved.  “Members of the press should know this”.

  • Your Honour is not known for such public visits to church after even a significant win – but you learned well the lesson of allowing members of the press to do their job.
  • There are some counsel who slip out a side or back door, and are never seen in the press or on the television news.  That was not the approach Your Honour took.
  • While you were in articles, Mr Frank often had you drive him to court.  On one occasion early-on, you were to drive him to the Coroner’s Court – then at the Flinders Street Annex.  The press would be waiting, and you were to drop the great man for his grand arrival at the Court.
  •  It was windy and raining heavily.  You pulled the new, big, blue Mercedes smoothly up outside the Court.
  • But then you pressed the wrong button – the roof slid back – and the wind and rain played havoc with Mr Frank’s immaculately groomed silver hair.  He emerged into the waiting press photographers, utterly dishevelled.
  • You parked the Mercedes and returned to sit behind Mr Frank in court.  In the first lull in proceedings, he beckoned you forward.  He said only one thing:  “You’re a bloody idiot, Forrest”.
  • The incident was never again mentioned – at least, not by Mr Frank.
  • Your Honour, I understand that Peter O’Bryan – now retired – said this in his letter of congratulations on your appointment –that, of all his employees over the years, you were Mr Frank’s favourite.
  • Of course, when you came to the Bar, the firm briefed you.  They continued to do so – and neither they, nor any other of your instructing solicitors was ever disappointed in the thoroughness of your preparation, or in the creative spark you brought to the presentation of cases.
  • In her book Kickback – Inside the Australian Wheat Board Scandal, Caroline Overington called Your Honour the “dishevelled and charming QC from Melbourne”.
  • You, and your junior, Lachy Carter, consistently stood up for your clients’ in the face of the Commissioner and Senior Counsel Assisting.  So, of course, did other counsel – but Your Honour was the only counsel who got Commissioner Cole to laugh.  And, in addition to the one actual laugh, I understand that there were a number of other times that your natural good humour brought the Commissioner quite close to a smile.
  • Throughout a long and trying process in the glare of media fascination, Your Honour remained calm and patient – your oral submissions were considered and succinct.
  • Your Honour was a natural leader amongst counsel at the Inquiry.  You alone applied for leave to cross-examine the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, albeit unsuccessfully. 
  • Your Honour was however given leave to cross-examine the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, and you did so.
  • Your Honour is a keen collector of antique motor cars, which you secrete all over the place.  Your colleagues in Crockett Chambers will miss Your Honour, but will not miss Your Honour’s cars which have, from time to time taken over parts of the car park.  Indeed, as at the time I obtained this material, your colleagues were still quietly looking forward to the final move-out.
  • Your Honour has been an outstanding and thoroughly well -liked advocate.  Your thoroughness and calm – and the imaginative creative spark are fine qualities in a Judge.
  • On behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria and the solicitors of this State, I wish Your Honour, Justice Terence Forrest, long, satisfying and distinguished service as a Judge of this Court.
  • May it please the Court.

 

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