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Welcome Judge Tim Ginnane


Cite as: October 2009 83(10) LIJ, p22

Judge Tim Ginnane was welcomed as a judge to the County Court on 18 August. Among the speakers was LIV president Danny Barlow. This is an edited version of his speech.

I appear on behalf of the LIV and the solicitors of this state to congratulate your Honour on your appointment to this Court.

Your Honour's late father, John Ginnane, was a legendary solicitor in Footscray for more than 40 years - a literate man with a fund of practical wisdom, a passion for justice and a commitment to support the underdog.

Those who knew your father see much of him in your Honour.

From your earliest days at the Bar, your Honour has had a serious-minded approach to the law. One instructor from that time saw you then as destined for the Bench.

Your seriousness was in marked contrast to Mr Justice Smithers' colourful personality and uproarious anecdotes from the Bench. You had, however, in common a belief in justice and respect for the Australian system of conciliation and arbitration.

One aspect of your Honour's seriousness was a most careful - some might say even exaggerated - respect for the Bar Rules.

In your early days counsel could not attend the offices of a solicitor without advance permission from the Bar Ethics Committee - we solicitors saw it as ritual permission first with, no doubt, ritual cleansing afterwards.

Your Honour observed this Rule scrupulously. You would not even "attend" the letter-box of an instructing solicitor who worked from home to collect an envelope of documents to add to your brief.

Your Honour was serious and scrupulous to the point, on this occasion, of irritation. But you were so courteous - and so utterly dependable.

You were rarely surprised by an opponent's submission in court because you'd prepared thoroughly. In the face of a - dare I say - fractious judge, you were unflappable.

About a month after the great victory in resisting the 1989 attack on the Bulldogs by the evil empire of the VFL, the Footscray club members met in the Footscray Town Hall.

Everyone, including the new Board, was lost in the euphoria of toasting the recent success and bright future.

The necessary motions to tie up legal loose ends were the furthest thing from everyone else's minds.

They were rescued from their euphoria by what one member described as "these two suits - nerdy looking young fellows in the front row" - your Honour and Graham Robertson.

You remembered to move and second the necessary motions to replace the VFL directors on the Footscray Football Club Board; and to rescind the motions for the dreaded proposed merger with Fitzroy.

The dotting of "i"s and crossing of "t"s that counsel loftily leave to solicitors was this time done by counsel learned in the law - by the son of John Ginnane of Footscray.

Thorough and methodical as your Honour was, you had a barrister's apprehension about never being entrusted with original documents - "please, only ever give me copies".

In your last case of Kapetanovsky, the hearing was in camera; solicitors and counsel had to sign confidentiality agreements; even copies were strictly limited and controlled. Your Honour bought a safe for your chambers - just to keep these confidential papers safe.

One instructor has described your Honour as the Rolls Royce standard in submissions and opinions that were always economical, direct and clear and that had immediate clarity of thought and expression.

The Royal Commission into the activities of the building and construction industry was an immense undertaking. The Commission conducted hearings in every state and territory. Matters that would, in an ordinary litigation context, run for years had to be prepared in months. There were four senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission - two of whom were Victorian silks - and several junior counsel assisting.

Your Honour worked tirelessly - and often long into the night.

You were mainly engaged in the hearings in Melbourne and in Queensland.

Your principal instructing solicitor has emphasised what a high compliment it was to your Honour, and your work with the Commission, that towards the end of the nearly two years of the Commission your Honour was made responsible for the conduct of hearings in Melbourne without a leader.

Your Honour was briefed by the Australian Government Solicitor to represent the Commonwealth and Commonwealth authorities. Many such cases involved urgent applications - such as applications for an injunction - that required quick action and raised complex issues.

Your Honour has been an outstanding advocate. Those who have instructed you believe you will be an excellent judge.

On behalf of the LIV and the solicitors of this state, I wish your Honour long, satisfying and distinguished service as a judge of this Court.


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