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Judiciary: Welcome Justice Jonathan Beach QC

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Cite as: September 2014 88 (09) LIJ, p.29

Justice Jonathan Beach QC was welcomed to the Federal Court of Australia on 30 June 2014. Among the speakers was LIV president Geoff Bowyer. 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 has deep roots in the law. Your father, the Honourable Barry Beach served nearly 25 years on the Supreme Court.

Your Honour practised as a solicitor for three and a half years. You served articles with Allan Moore at Allan Moore & Co in Queen Street. Allan had been in sole practice for many years.

Your Honour’s high ability was immediately recognised, and you remained with Allan Moore and Co as a solicitor for about a year until February 1985 when you joined the commercial department of Blake & Riggall (now Ashurst), before going to the Bar.

Allan Moore & Co briefed your Honour as they had briefed your father. You both responded quickly with advice work.

One of Allan Moore’s major clients, the RESI Statewide Building Society was granted a banking licence and became the Bank of Melbourne in July 1989. Although Your Honour had been at the Bar less than two years, Allan Moore briefed your Honour to review and revise all the Society’s security documents, and also bring them into conformity with the law and regulations affecting it in its new status as a bank – a very substantial project.

Your instructing solicitors all speak of your Honour’s thorough, detailed and measured advice – promptly delivered, and carefully explained.

And, when necessary, your Honour moved mountains with amazing speed. The monumental AGL v ACCC case in this Court before Justice French was heard on an expedited basis – the three weeks of hearing beginning within 10 weeks of the application being filed.

Your Honour was a pleasure to work with – and they and their clients respected the measure of quiet reserve in your Honour’s manner and demeanor. Nothing threw you.

Peter Gordon instructed your Honour in the class action claim against the Australian subsidiary of Dow Corning in relation to faulty breast implants. It was a pivotal case for claimants outside the United States and achieved compensation for the Australian plaintiffs.

Your Honour was in the vanguard in class actions. You were briefed by Slater & Gordon. You were briefed by Herbert Smith Freehills.

Your Honour is renowned in class actions – and in the major and highly technical competition cases you’ve done with Simon Uthmeyer at DLA Piper – and in the major insolvency work you’ve done with Robert Heathcote and Leon Zwier at Arnold Bloch Leibler – and in the Exxon/Esso dispute with BHP you did with Mark Dobbie and John Kelly at Middletons (now K & L Gates).

Perhaps less well known is your Honour’s pro bono work in human rights and access to justice cases. In 2009, your Honour appeared in this Court on behalf of the Indigenous applicants in Shaw v The Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

The Minister, frustrated that negotiations on the government’s proposed 40-year subleases on the Indigenous Alice Springs town camps, gave notice of intention of compulsory acquisition of the land. Your Honour described this as the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of your Indigenous clients.

In this, your Honour was instructed by Ben Schokman of the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, and supported by research from Allens Arthur Robinson. You appeared with two juniors.

In 1999, your Honour accepted one of the early pro bono referrals under Order 80 in this Court to assist an unrepresented litigant – a man of Eritrean origin, whose three-year-old daughter had been adbucted by her mother, in clear breach of an order of the Family Court.

The man had appeared in person in his earlier action against the Commonwealth – both at first instance and on appeal to the Full Court.

Pro bono, with Daniel Star as your junior, your Honour represented him in a new negligence claim against the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth. You were opposed by Richard Stanley QC and Frank Saccardo. Your Honour achieved a confidential settlement in that case.

Mention has been made of Your Honour’s trumpet playing as a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra – and of your philanthropy, with your wife Daria McGauran, in establishing a scholarship at the University of Melbourne.

Personal contribution of effort and philanthropy are linked with music in Your Honour’s work with Melbourne Youth Music.

Your Honour became “one of Melbourne Youth Orchestra’s most generous and consistent financial benefactors”.

Thirty-six years ago, Bernard Teague, then LIV president – said this in closing his Welcome address to Your Honour’s father. It is particularly apt, and I say the same to your Honour.

I quote: “Sir Owen Dixon, at the time of his appointment as Chief Justice of the High Court, commented on the great safeguard it was for the judicial system to have the strength of the whole of the legal profession behind it. You, sir, can draw much satisfaction from the knowledge that you have the strength of the whole of the legal profession in Victoria behind your appointment”.

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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