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Welcome of his Honour Judge Greg Lyon

Welcome of his Honour Judge Greg Lyon

By LIV Media



Address on the occasion of the welcome of His Honour Judge Gregory John Lyon upon his appointment as a Judge of the County Court of Victoria by Steven Sapountsis, president of the Law Institute of Victoria on Wednesday 26 October 2016 at 9.15am

  1. 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, Dr Gregory Lyon as a Judge of this Court.
  2. This ceremonial sitting of the Court is not Your Honour’s first brush with fame.
  3. For a young student, the move from junior school to the senior campus can be a nervous and somewhat challenging experience, and so it was for Your Honour.
  4. Dressed in summer uniform- shorts and a short sleeved shirt- and just a tad toey, Your Honour stood at the L.B. Lloyd Memorial Gates at the entrance to Caulfield Grammar School in Glen Eira Road to face the future.
  5. That day, the junior school at Malvern House felt a world, and not merely a suburb away, as Your Honour faced two towering senior students, their cheeks sprouting mutton chops and with long hair tumbling as unruly as their demeanour.
  6. For it was from the nearby Memorial Hall, that Nick Cave – then in his final year at CGS and bound for later international fame as front man of alternative rock band The Bad Seeds – belted out an early playlist.
  7. Not only did Your Honour make it safely to class, the transition to senior school was successfully negotiated and, in due course, the sacrifices made by Your Honour’s devoted parents, John and Sue,  to fund a private school education,  were richly rewarded.
  8. Your Honour’s place this morning on the Bench of this Court, is testament to that, and also of much more.
  9. As Mr O’Callaghan has already detailed, Your Honour’s background is one distinguished by achievement as a barrister – and as Silk from 2005 - in complex cases that included Royal Commissions and as Counsel Assisting in public hearings by the former Office of Police Integrity.
  10. The foundations of Your Honour’s career at the Bar were, however, laid in your years in the solicitors’ branch of the profession
  11. Out of Law School, you served Articles at Hall & Wilcox in the City.  Your Principal was the Senior Partner, Geoff Durham, a Common Lawyer.
  12. It is fair to say that the two of you were not a good match.  Your Honour came to recognise the signs.  The firm was quite small and took only two Articled Clerks.  Your fellow Articled Clerk, Andrew Lyle, remained with Hall & Wilcox and is now a partner.  Herecalls Your Honour’s keen perception of your Principal – your warning that the Senior Partner was in a brown suit today – and “brown-suit-days” tended not to be good.
  13. Suffice it to say that Your Honour  dealt with  the situation with dignity.  You were fairly soon shuffled off to conveyancing – and one of the more interesting assignments in your Articles year was that it was your duty to stock the bar fridge for the partners’ Friday night drinks.
  14. However, you not only saw your Articles through, you remained with the firm for more than a year after admission.
  15. The real foundations for your career at the Bar were not handed to you on a platter.  Your Honour earned them by determined application and hard work – but not until you had distanced yourself a little from your experience at Hall & Wilcox and had several months travelling overseas.
  16. Upon your return to Australia in 1986, you began working at the firms of solicitors- Christopher Piesse and, later, Peter Fitzgerald.  You worked as a solicitor-advocate in criminal law – and you were on your feet every day.
  17. There was, in those days, a Magistrates’ Court in practically every Melbourne suburb - and both Your Honour and Chris Piesse would be multiple-booked in multiple suburban courts - haring from one suburban court to another, sometimes clocking 150 kilometres a day in cross-town appearances, bail applications, committals and contested hearings – you did it all.
  18. One week, you compared notes and found that, between the two of you, you’d done 60 appearances in that week!
  19. An early casualty of this demanding workload was the sleek combination-lock briefcase with which Your Honour had proudly commenced work at Mr Piesse’s offices.
  20. This was soon replaced by a much larger, undemonstrative but unmissable bag – known as a mobile filing cabinet – that could accommodate 30 files or more as Your Honour burned candles at both ends- and in the middle  -working most ridiculous hours.
  21. On one occasion, the mobile filing cabinet barely squeezed into the Oakleigh Magistrates’ Court in a case presided over by magistrate Bert Gillman.

    His Worship (as Magistrates were then addressed) asked Your Honour how long the contest would take.

    “Fifteen minutes,” came the confident estimate.  Mr Gillman looked sceptical – but he let the case run.

    After four minutes of evidence-in-chief and another four of cross-examination, His Worship then asked the prosecutor: “Does the police case get any better than that?”

    “Well Mr Lyon – I thought your estimate was “optimistic” – but you were right – and you’ve beaten it.  Congratulations.”
  22. Today, Mr Piesse recalls Your Honour as someone who “could not help himself helping people”, a solicitor/advocate whose sheer effort – whether for street kids, sex workers or serious criminals – was appreciated and respected.
  23. Generous and universally respected and liked, Your Honour’s years as a defence solicitor provided a valuable grounding for the Bar where, as we have heard, Your Honour’s appearances evolved into varied and complex commercial/criminal work.
  24. An early win for one of Your Honour’s clients was the successful local council prosecution of “Kittens Car Wash”- a suburban business that employed women wearing very little while washing dirty cars – a business that breached a planning permit. Our researches do not reveal whether it was the uniform, or the state of the cars, that caused the breach.
  25. The fines imposed in that case were substantial, but mere froth and bubbles compared to those imposed in the numerous later substantial cases of fraud and financial market matters-  such as ASIC v Vizard and the first insider trading civil penalties case-  in which Your Honour was engaged
  26. In this this busy and growing practice, Your Honour  maintained your calm and composed  demeanour, that we say was developed as a defence solicitor, founded on a promise not ever to be taken by surprise or be caught short, and implemented by a disciplined commitment to preparation.
  27. Leveasque (pronounced Lev-ache) Peterson, of Lander & Rogers, often briefed Your Honour in workplace health and safety matters, a task she professionally and affectionately described as “high-maintenance”, to meet Your Honour’s commitment to excellent preparation.
  28. Ms Petersen says the outcomes in those cases justified the hard work demanded –as the client’s interests were always well protected. These outcomes were also assisted by Your Honour’s preference for keeping under the radar.
  29. As senior counsel for the Municipal Association of Victoria and numerous municipal councils at the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, Your Honour’s meticulous approach was very evident inside the hearing room.

    We understand that, in one area, Your Honour’s reliance on, and tendering of charts and plans, was persistent enough to earn Your Honour the nickname “Map Man”.
  30. Your Honour’s many achievements in the practice of the law were augmented by Your Honour’s commitment to advocacy training, throughout Australia and overseas;  a doctoral thesis on insider trading laws;  and many expert and learned writings.
  31. The late Jim Kennan, a distinguished Silk, former Attorney-General of Victoria and a lifelong family friend, was a man much admired by Your Honour. We suspect that, if any reminder may be necessary in this new role, it will be Mr Kennan’s lasting memory that will help Your Honour maintain your Honour’s renowned equanimity.
  32. On behalf of the Law Institute of Victoria, and the solicitors of this state, I wish Your Honour a long, successful and rewarding career as a Judge of this Court.
  33. May it please the court.


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