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Welcome: Justice Joshua Wilson

Welcome: Justice  Joshua Wilson

By Law Institute Journal



Justice Joshua Wilson was welcomed to the Family Court of Australia on 18 March. Among the speakers was LIV president Stuart Webb.

I appear on behalf of the LIV and the solicitors of this state to welcome your Honour Justice Joshua Wilson as a judge of the Family Court of Australia.

The Law Council of Australia also congratulates and welcomes your Honour on this appointment.

When the late Ken Marks retired as a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, he recalled your Honour’s capacity for high quality work as his associate. His Honour noted, however, your inclination to run into chambers when buzzed, which required reminding you there was also something called walking.

Your Honour’s early work-day starts even caused a sympathetic and sincerely mistaken cleaner in Owen Dixon West to attribute them to a marriage breakdown.

That marriage is now 34 years-strong, your work ethic and devotion to the law as unbroken.

Your Honour promised on appointment in 2015 to not orchestrate major social change on the Federal Circuit Court through judgments.

In one case, however, you spoke pointedly about wasting resources on a family law property dispute whose assets included a broken ride-on mower and a $10 print of the Mona Lisa.

You were widely applauded in noting that the community would rightfully be critical to learn that a federal judge of a court that deals with 100,000 cases annually should expend precious public funds determining items of such ridiculously small amounts.

Judges on the Federal Circuit Court each have upwards of 600 cases under management at a time in a jurisdiction eclipsed only by the High Court.

It includes migration, bankruptcy and administration law, human rights, family law and discrimination. I should know, having added to your Honour’s migration workload in the past myself. 

You told a conference last year in Hong Kong that the Court’s output was the envy of the national judiciary and the toast of many state judiciaries.

Eighty per cent of all family law cases are issued in that Court, with a high clearance rate amid their complex and challenging issues.

Your Honour heard and determined almost 1000 family law cases as a Federal Circuit Court judge, often listing them into your general federal law work.

In Perth last year, you applied Justice Marks’ no-nonsense cut-through approach to overcome the two-hour time difference to the east coast. In addition to listed matters, your Honour began at 8.15am Perth time, utilised video links to hear Melbourne and Sydney cases and also sat through lunch.

Readying to leave on your last day there, you heard at 30 minutes notice an urgent family law application without fuss, with one party on video link in Melbourne, the other on a phone.

Your Honour is a great communicator, your positions clear and unmistakable . . . even those sometimes inadvertently – but still effectively – shared.  

During agitation by court staff for pay rises, an internal email that announced toilet works elicited an immediate response from your Honour. “That money could be better spent” – you emailed – “on a pay rise towards hard-working court staff …” – then hit the reply-all button.

Your Honour’s associate Paul Ramos has learnt much as daily witness to your principled, wise ways.

Paul has admired your 5am starts, focusing lawyers’ and litigants’ minds, often leading them to settlement rather than costly contests 

. . . and providing swiftly written judgments.

He reckons having three daughters ensured your Honour stayed generationally attuned.

You’ve seen the teen flick Mean Girls three times and applied its renowned line – “On Wednesday’s we wear pink” – to present Paul with an identical pink tie to match yours to wear on hump day.

Every day of the week is a wonderful life [your wife] Silvana equates to being in the Wilson washing machine.

Your Honour may simply regard yourself as a fitter and turner – you turn up and fit in looking to work hard.

Or furiously juggling between acts – legislative or those rehearsed every Sunday for three months for a BottledSnail production. 

But what drives your Honour’s every outside commitment – from the shores of Deakin University’s waterfront campus in Geelong to landlocked Kazakhstan – is a need to give back for what you have received throughout a fine legal career.

You now move up in this building, from the 12th to the 13th floor.

It’s not a step or even a giant leap, but rather an inevitable progression for a judge destined to continue tirelessly serving the law and the community.

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