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Welcome for Associate Justice Julian Hetyey

Welcome for Associate Justice Julian Hetyey

By LIV Media


May it please the court.

I appear on behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria and the solicitors of this state to welcome Your Honour Julian Hetyey as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we gather and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present, and to any Elders with us today.

We also welcome to the Court today Your Honour’s family, especially his wife Anna, daughter Leilani, and son Atticus.

It is a little unusual in addresses, such as these, to mention the family so early in the piece, but they play a special role in supporting Your Honour’s career.

Atticus, your father says that you were named after one of his favourite characters – Atticus Finch, the courageous lawyer in the literary classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

It is your father’s favourite book.

Every lawyer in this room, Atticus, aspires to the humane values that the character Atticus Finch demonstrated – the values of justice and equity, delivered with respect, kindness and empathy.

These are the values that your father demonstrates.

Your Honour, law has been simmering in the background of your family for generations.

Your grandfather, Alex, studied Law and Economics in Hungary, but the turmoil of the Second World War interrupted his studies.

When Alex and his wife Olga came to Australia in 1949, along with many thousands of others fleeing communist regimes in eastern Europe, he maintained his strong cultural ties to Hungary.

Alex became a leading member of the Hungarian community here, and in the 1950s he helped establish the Globus Co-operative Housing Society which aimed to finance affordable housing for other migrants.

The sense of community, the importance of understanding history, and the value of shared experiences was imbued in you.

So, too, were the values of public service and engagement that your peers, former colleagues and friends say epitomize Your Honour’s approach to life.

Your grandfather strongly encouraged you to pursue law, and when you surprised yourself with excellent marks in your final year at school you took up Law and Arts at the University of Melbourne.

As we have heard, your DOXA cadetship granted you an entrée to leading law firm, Arnold Bloch Leibler where in 2000 you became the first articled clerk to the late Leonie Thompson, the formidable and ceaselessly encouraging lawyer.

While doing articles, you assisted ABL partner Peter Seidel’s work as he represented the Yorta Yorta people in their efforts to secure Native Title over their lands and waters.

Although this highly protracted case ultimately did not succeed, it gave Your Honour important personal insights into the difficulties encountered by Indigenous people as they sought to engage with various local interests and the multi-layered State and Commonwealth jurisdictions.

As we have heard, after your admission to practice you spent a year from May 2003 as associate to Justice Ray Finkelstein in the Federal Court.

As His Honour’s senior associate, you learnt the importance of tracing legal principles to their sources; of researching the line of authority to discover the legitimacy of legal thinking; and the need to be as precise as possible with language.

Sharon Burchell, who was Justice Susan Kenny’s associate at that time and is now Judicial Registrar in the County Court, says you were always thoughtful, broad-minded, warmly welcoming, and a great mentor to others in chambers.

Your Honour returned to private practice at Arnold Bloch Leibler for 18 months, and it was during that time that Leilani was born.

You and Anna recognised that it was probably time for you to try something different in Law, and so you shifted out of private practice and entered the field of public administration and law.

In late 2005, Your Honour accepted a job in the legal branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, advising the highest levels of this state on legislation, litigation and all manner of legal issues that would go before Cabinet.

It was intriguing and fascinating work, and you were fortunate to work with enthusiastic and dynamic peers.

Barely two years later, in July 2007, you grasped the rare opportunity to take on the role of Deputy District Registrar in the Victorian division of the Federal Court.

It should be noted that you had not yet turned 30 years of age when you joined the Federal Court – a relative baby, with respect !

Your Honour presided over bankruptcy cases, complex interlocutory matters in heavily contested disputes, and became intrigued by the important work of mediations.

You swiftly realised just how important mediation was to the justice system – how it can provide practical results for both parties that are not necessarily wins and losses, but agreed outcomes that can and do work.

As part of explaining the importance of mediation, you took part in a video demonstrating a mock mediation.

Your Honour played contrary-to-type, though, acting the part of a very rude, trouble-making litigant.

This video, so we are told, is still shown to impressionable law students, so you might expect some quite startled faces when a new generation of lawyers eventually enters Your Honour’s courtroom.

Your experience at the Federal Court included three years as Deputy Registrar of the Australian Competition Tribunal under Justice Mansfield.

All this gave you solid grounding in the outward-facing administration of justice – that is, the courtroom skills – as well as honing your considerable and highly-appreciated skills in judicial administration – that is, the management that goes on behind the scenes.

In November 2014, you crossed the road to the Supreme Court of Victoria and became the first Judicial Registrar of the Commercial Court with specific responsibility for overseeing the work of the Commercial Court registry, which was then in its infancy.

With the support of then chief justice Marilyn Warren, Justice Kim Hargrave, Justice James Judd and later Justice Peter Riordan, as well as the cohort of Commercial Court judges, you helped to implement a series of practical administrative reforms.

These included:

  • setting up Practice Notes for the Commercial Court;
  • introducing an electronic filing system;
  • establishing a Duty Judge to deal with urgent issues instead of them going through the mainstream Practice Court;
  • establishing a program of regular meetings with the judges of the Commercial division;
  • implementing a specific program for dealing with oppression proceedings;
  • expanding and remodeling the specialist lists in the Commercial Court, and
  • reinvigorating the Commercial Court Users Group.

Innovation, efficiency and timeliness were the driving principles, with the aim of providing streamlined services to Court users and helping to keep costs in check for litigants and the Court.

You have recruited highly talented lawyers and administrators into the registry, and supported them all the way.

As Judicial Registrar, you provided a much-needed interface between the judicial and administrative arms of the Supreme Court’s in its vital Commercial work.

In recent years, you have presided over many public examinations, conducted mediations and performed a host of judicial functions.

Your colleagues say you are a totally dedicated and excellent administrator; hard-working yet calm under pressure; a fine orator; thorough, thoughtful and generous with your time; funny and whole-hearted.

 Importantly, you demonstrate empathy and the human side of justice at every turn.

This was perhaps best exemplified when you were a mediator over a difficult family property matter.

The dispute ended in tragedy when one brother allegedly shot two family members and then attempted to commit suicide.

Faced with this terrible turn of events, Your Honour made it your personal duty to call each of the barristers and lawyers involved in the matter, to ensure that they were okay and that they were provided with support and pastoral care.

May we suggest, Your Honour, that your actions reflected the ideals of Atticus Finch.

In closing, Your Honour, we would like to reflect your own words about what you find most pleasing in administering justice.

“The joy,” you have said, “is when get to the end of a very long and stressful mediation, and there is actually a workable solution.

“You see then, the cathartic impact of the solution on the parties.

“Sometimes they even give you a hug as the mediator, and you think: ‘My goodness, I have helped someone get out of a very bad situation and helped them reclaim their life rather than thrash around in the machinery of it all’.”

“You feel like you are really helping members of the community.”

Finally, on behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria and the solicitors of this State, may I wish Your Honour a long, satisfying and distinguished career as a Judge of this court.

May it please the Court.

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