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Farewell Judge Francis Dyett

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Cite as: (2005) 79(7) LIJ, p. 32

County Court of Victoria Judge Francis Dyett was farewelled at a ceremony on 5 April 2005. Among the speakers was Law Institute of Victoria immediate past president Chris Dale. An edited version of his speech follows.

A boy from the bush, with a passion for football, hardworking, driven and possessing great generosity of spirit – your Honour has certainly achieved many milestones but it is your significant contribution to the law that we acknowledge today.

Both in your school days and later at Melbourne University your Honour showed a “high degree of sporting prowess”. This included rowing, football and athletics.

You also served as president of the Old Xaverians’ Association in 1990. The high regard in which you are held by the school community was shown in 1990 when your Honour was called on to deliver a eulogy following the death of “a Xavier icon” – being the late Father Stephenson, who had spent some 60 years at Xavier. I am reliably informed you admirably acquitted yourself.

At Melbourne University you were a member of Newman’s 1st XVIII, rowed in the College 2nd VIII and on top of these extracurricular activities you achieved outstanding academic results.

Despite your endeavours in the sporting arena and in maintaining physical fitness, you were also partial to partaking in a cleansing ale or a fine wine.

While consulting with the profession in preparation for this speech, two constant themes emerged – the first is that your Honour’s work regime was “like clockwork” and the second was that your Honour is “a really nice person”. Indeed, one former associate fondly recalls that whenever he was asked which judge he worked for, the answer always attracted the same response – “ah, you’re so lucky” they would say, “he’s such a nice man”.

Your Honour was described as a very popular barrister and is described as well-liked by the profession and highly regarded as a judge. Very generous and a “fellow of extreme integrity and courtesy”, your Honour’s decisions are said to possess the elements of consideration and a good application of the law.

Your Honour was appointed to the Bench in 1978. It is worthwhile reflecting for a moment on how different the Court now is - in terms of the physical presence, number of judges and its greater jurisdiction. It is a vital trial court of this state and your Honour leaves it in good hands.

Moreover, in a profession in which many of our younger members leave to take up careers elsewhere, your Honour provides a significant role model in what I calculate to be your 50th year of practice.

It is a testament to your affable nature that you have enjoyed many wonderful and enduring friendships with your associates and tipstaffs.

Your Honour has also been generous with your time in other endeavours, as a member of the Newman Old Collegians Association and of the councils of both Mannix College 1992-97 and Newman College 1986-87, and a former member of the Legal Aid Committee of Victoria.

A keen golfer and a member of Green Acres Golf Club, your Honour is also a regular participant in the “Judges’ Golf Classic” involving members of the Supreme and County Courts, although the use of the word “participant” has taken on somewhat of a new meaning in recent years.

Your Honour’s contribution to the winning streak enjoyed by the County Court, has lately involved not so much “actual golf” but rather rising to the podium to accept the trophy on your team’s behalf. In the style of the US President’s Cup, your Honour has developed a level of expertise akin to that of Australian golfing legend Peter Thompson in being a “non-playing team captain” whose presence is simply required to inspire the team and also to accept the winner’s trophy.

One can only hope that your Honour’s retirement will leave you more time to pursue your golfing interests and enough time and good health to rejoin the playing field for this year’s Classic.

While on circuit your Honour was not only afforded the benefit of occasionally coinciding with Victoria’s racing schedule, but it also offered the opportunity to play many of the state’s golf courses. A tradition soon developed which involved your Honour, tipstaff and associate regularly rushing off to fit in nine holes of golf before dinner.

On behalf of Victoria’s solicitors I again thank you for the significant contribution you have made to this Court and extend to you and your family every happiness for your retirement.

Secondary school: Marist Brothers College and Xavier College
University: Melbourne University LLB (Hons)
Articles of clerkship: Hall & Wilcox
Admitted to practice: 1 March 1956
Signed Bar roll: 3 February 1958
Read with: Sir Kevin Anderson, a former judge of the Supreme Court
Appointed to the Bench: 24 October 1978

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