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Welcome Justice Gregory Garde


Cite as: September 2012 86 (09) LIJ, p.33.

Justice Gregory Garde was welcomed to the Supreme Court of Victoria and as president of VCAT on 13 June 2012. Among the speakers was LIV president-elect Reynah Tang. This is an edited version of his speech.

I appear on behalf of the LIV and of the solicitors of this state to congratulate your Honour on your appointment to this Court, and as president of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Your Honour commenced your legal career serving articles with Peter Kelly – a leading commercial solicitor – at the firm formerly known as Mallesons. You were Peter’s first articled clerk. Your Honour also served a substantial rotation with David Walsh, working on the first major contracts for engineering and construction work for the City Loop in Melbourne. And you served a substantial rotation with Matt Walsh in Wills, Trusts & Estates.

However, you were set on going to the Bar, and remained at Mallesons for only a little over six months after your admission to practice.

You rounded out your training and experience by reading for the Bar with Bill Gillard – later Justice Gillard of this Court.

Although you did not practise for much time as or in the manner of a solicitor, your Honour nevertheless has deep roots in our branch of the profession.

Your late father John Garde and his brother Bruce (also now deceased) both practised as solicitors for some 50 years – your uncle Bruce as a country solicitor in Mildura, your Honour’s father in Melbourne and then in Moorabin in partnership for 35 years with Loch Adams, practising as Adams & Garde.

Like your Honour, your father was a scholarship recipient. From Mildura, where he was born, he won a scholarship to Ballarat College. Like your Honour, he joined the Melbourne University Regiment – then known as the Melbourne University Rifles.

Your father enlisted in 1940. He interrupted his law studies, trained as a pilot, and saw active service in Papua New Guinea ending the war as a Flight Lieutenant.

Around 1968, John Garde became a foundation member of the Southern Solicitors Group – a suburban association of the LIV. In those days the LIV was, in the view of some, well represented or, in the view of others, overrepresented by partners in the city firms. Your Honour’s father moved the motion, at an extraordinary meeting of the LIV, to amend the constitution to provide for direct representation of the suburban law associations on the LIV Council, which continued until 1997 when those seats were abolished to allow the size of the Council to be reduced to more manageable levels.

Following the constitutional change, your father served as a member of the LIV for some four years.

Fittingly, in 2007, John Garde was made an Honorary Life Member of the LIV.

Your Honour’s instructing solicitors over many years speak of your extraordinary capacity for hard work.

Your willingness to work all hours, as needed, is legendary. In one case involving a fierce dispute within an Eastern Orthodox Church, your Honour was called upon after midnight to obtain an urgent ex parte interlocutory injunction. Your Honour telephoned and woke a judge of this Court, and got the injunction over the phone. Your instructing solicitor and junior came to your house and you worked with them until 4am drawing a statement of claim and affidavits for the issue of proceedings later in the morning and a further hearing on the injunction.

What stands out for one partner in a city firm who has briefed your Honour for decades is the support you have always given to younger solicitors – taking the time so they could learn and understand, rather than just be given instructions as to what was needed. You guided and encouraged, refraining from criticism or reprimand. That’s how you were with that partner more than 20 years ago, and that’s how you have continued with his young solicitors starting out in land acquisition and compensation law.

Your Honour’s skills and experience as a soldier and lawyer came together brilliantly in your organisation and presentation of major cases. You were always well and thoroughly prepared; you chose carefully the ground on which to fight; and then you pressed your case relentlessly.

Your presentation was calm and measured, and you inspired confidence in even the most nervous and distressed client.

Perhaps based on your experience of being posted to the reserves regiment at Monash University in the heyday of radical protests during the 1970s, your Honour has never shied away from what may be unpopular causes or clients. In recent years, you have acted for the Port of Melbourne and Victorian government in relation to the case against the Blue Wedges environmental group over the channel deepening project; the Brethren in fighting an anti-discrimination case over gay access to a Church-owned camping site at Phillip Island; and the City of Frankston in regard to escape of leachate gas from the landfill at the Brookland Greens housing estate.

Even with such matters, your instructing solicitors commented on what a pleasure it was working with your Honour.

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


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