Welcome to the Honourable Justice Jennifer Davies upon her appointment to the Federal Court of Aust.

Date: 4 Jul 2013
Author/Organisation: Reynah Tang, Law Institute of Victoria

May it please the Court.

I appear on behalf of the Law Council of Australia – and on behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria and the Solicitors of this State – to congratulate Your Honour on your appointment to this Court.

I pass on the congratulations and best wishes of Michael Colbran QC in his capacity as President of the Law Council of Australia.

It is a particular pleasure to represent the Law Council and Law Institute at this welcome because I share much common history with you:

  • like Your Honour, I studied at Monash University and served Articles with Delcho Bobeff;
  • your articles were completed at Pavey, Whiting & Byrne, which is of course a predecessor part of what is now my firm of Corrs Chambers Westgarth;
  • like Your Honour, I share a curious enjoyment of tax despite coming to the study of law with no particular plans to practise;
  • as a result of a case where we were on opposing sides, we both know more about moneylending legislation and the recession we had to have than is probably healthy to understand; and
  • like Your Honour, we both have a brother who also practises law, although somewhat surprisingly my brother is yet to take up the joy of tax.

Mr Alstergren has already referred to the Commercial Court seminars established in association with Monash University, the Law Institute and the Bar.

These seminars were an initiative of Justice Pagone and the Commercial Court Judges – and one for which Your Honour assumed principal responsibility from very early on.

Mark Yorston of Wisewould Mahony – who is in Court today – worked closely with Your Honour, together with Philip Solomon SC from the Bar and Professor Bryan Horrigan from Monash in their planning.

Mr Yorston echoes the sentiments of Professor Horrigan in appreciation of Your Honour’s leadership in that regard.

Your Honour took responsibility for engaging fellow members of the Court in these seminars including Judges from other Divisions of the Court – and Judges of Appeal.

The issues were always of great and current interest; and the speakers, over the years, a veritable Who’s Who of many of the most eminent solicitors, counsel and legal academics in the commercial law field.

Your Honour was conscious of the need to see that the diversity of the profession was well represented in the panels at these Seminars – and they have, in this also, been a model.

The Seminars have been extremely well received by the profession – and attendance has been consistently close to the comfortable capacity of the lecture theatre in the Monash Lonsdale Street Chambers – around 200 people.

The active and substantial participation of Judges in these Seminars has very much enhanced the profession’s relationship with the Court and the profession’s understanding and view of the Commercial Court.

At my recent President's lunch, the Chief Justice spoke with evident pride about the achievements of the Commercial Court.

Your Honour had, as counsel, been a member of the Business Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and served on the Law Council Taxation Committee.

Your Honour initiated and brought about a visit to Melbourne last March by United States Bankruptcy Court Judge James Peck.

You did this in conjunction with the Law Council Insolvency and Reconstruction Law Committee, working with Ian Walker of Minter Ellison in Melbourne – a member of that Committee.

Judge Peck had been responsible for the conduct of the United States Chapter 11 and Securities Investor Protection Act proceedings involving Lehman Brothers and affiliated companies.

Your Honour met Judge Peck at an overseas conference and, on learning that His Honour was to visit New Zealand, arranged for him to come also to Melbourne.

The presentation, in the Banco Court, was in the engaging form of “A conversation with Judge Peck” on international insolvency issues – the special challenges of global cases, court to court communications and other cross-border insolvency issues.

It was well attended and a great success.

Your Honour was part of an extraordinary generation of Articled Clerks and young employee solicitors at Paveys. At one point, Your Honour, Justice Simon Whelan of the Supreme Court, and Justice Julie Dodds-Streeton – formerly of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, and now of this Court – had adjoining offices at Paveys.

As was noted at your Welcome to the Supreme Court, Your Honour is remembered from your days at Paveys, not only for the quality of your work, but for your good relations with everyone with whom you worked – fellow clerks and solicitors; senior associates and partners; clients; and with the support staff.

As counsel, you were known for your extraordinary industry and ability to identify and address the issues in the typically massive volume of materials in the taxation and commercial cases in which you practised.

You were known also for the pleasure it was to work with you – for your consideration for the client and for your instructors and their staff.

This is not to say that Your Honour was entirely free of the some of the “eccentricities” that solicitors bear with mostly good humour from senior counsel.

At Your Honour's Supreme Court welcome the following “illustrative hypotheticals” were provided:

  • The telephone call at about 6:30 in the evening, “I’m sorry to trouble you this late, but I seem to have left all my papers in court, and I really need to work on them tonight”; and
  • The call shortly before court for copies of “just a few extra cases” – “oh, and we’ll need 15 copies of each”.

Copying cases at short notice is challenging – character-building when they’re not used.

Getting access to a courtroom in the evening is nothing short of a minor miracle.

Another story from Your Honour’s time as counsel bears repetition – the interesting origin of your care to eliminate the bolding of quotations in written submissions to the Court.

In the High Court, your leader was reading a quotation from a submission that Your Honour had written.

One of the Justices, visibly irritated, is reported to have exclaimed: “Not only is this in your submission – in case we might miss it, it’s bolded! There are limits! This is not like you, Mr Bloom.”

Mr Bloom took the hit for his junior.

Mr David Bloom QC of the Sydney Bar is a national leader of the Taxation Bar. He attended Your Honour’s Welcome to the Supreme Court, and is also here today.

Your Honour’s Associates on the Court, like your Readers at the Bar, were stretched and extended, but always encouraged and supported. And Your Honour’s friendship and support continued beyond their time with you on the Court.

Your Honour's love of bushwalking has already been mentioned. One former Associate, had been at the Bar some 7 months, when she went with Your Honour to New Zealand for a hiking trip.

She’d done some hiking before and thought herself reasonably prepared. You went for a day-trip up a mountain in the vicinity of Mount Cook.

It was, in her words, quite a challenge.

Your Honour led the way – wholly supportive and encouraging – but stretching your companion.

There was no clear path, and the markers for this walk were sparse. You went pretty-well straight up, finding a place to cross an icy running stream.

The height brought the reward of a spectacular view at the top looking out over glaciers and snow, in summer.

Keen observers from both branches of the practising profession see, in Your Honour’s Supreme Court judgments – even those wholly unrelated to any aspect of taxation law – a preference for citation to decisions in tax cases in support of general principles of law.

In your remarks about taxation law and cases at your Supreme Court Welcome, there is a hint of that preference, even if slightly tongue in cheek.

Such people will, no doubt, be paying particular attention at this sitting, hoping to discern helpful hints for the conduct of cases before Your Honour in this Court.

Your Honour has an outstanding record of practice as a solicitor; as counsel; and as Senior Counsel – and as a Judge of the Supreme Court and its Commercial Court. You have an outstanding record of service in the fields of Ethics and of Legal Education. Your human qualities are evident in the common comment of many that you were “fun to work with”.

On behalf of the Law Council of Australia, Law Institute of Victoria, and the solicitors of this State, I wish Your Honour joy in your appointment to this Court – and long, satisfying and distinguished service.

May it please the Court.

Contact Name: Mick Paskos, Communications Adviser
Contact Phone: 03 9607 9373
Contact Fax: 03 9607 9558
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