in the art of legal advocacy, Ian David Francis Callinan achieved
national distinction long before his appointment to the High Court
in 1998. Ian Callinan began his career as a solicitor, before being
admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1965. He took silk in 1978 and was instrumental in the
organisation of the Australian Legal Convention, held in
of the Queensland Bar Association from 1984 to 1987 and was also
President of the Australian Bar Association from 1984 to 1985.
before his elevation to the High Court, Ian Callinan QC was a name
well known to many Australians – brought to prominence by several
newsworthy criminal and defamation cases in which he had appeared.
Yet his professional career was much more broadly based. As a
barrister he was renowned as “an opponent with a mastery of the
brief, adept at court craft and seductive in persuasive argument”
and as “one of the best cross-examiners in the business”.
He appeared as leading counsel in practically all the
Australian jurisdictions, as well as in
Guinea, in matters
spanning the full spectrum of the law. He was “introduced” to the Spanish Court in Majorca in 1994 and
appeared robed at the bar table with the Chief Prosecutor for Spain in the Skase extradition proceedings in which an
order for Skase's extradition (subsequently reversed on appeal) was made.
cartoon of Callinan QC leading the prosecution in his
most celebrated case – the 1985 trials of the Hon.
Justice Lionel Murphy of the High Court of Australia,
who had been accused with perverting the course of
and the Chief Prosecutor of
immediately before the proceedings
for the extradition of Christopher Skase, Majorca, 1994.
Ellicott, Steven Charles and
the early 1990s Callinan QC
travelled with the Court
to San Francisco to hear evidence in the
case of Comalco v Frecinet,
in which he was appearing as counsel and The Hon Justice Paul de
Jersey was presiding judge. This
is very rarely done, but in this instance it was more economical to
take the Court to the evidence, rather than bringing the evidence to
of the Bar Association
Callinan QC’s presidency, the Committee of the Bar Association of Queensland
campaigned on a number of very important issues: they exhorted the
government to make significant changes to the Drugs Misuse Bill and
sought to have restored some rights of Appeal to the High Court.
Although the Bar Association was unable to influence the government
on these issues, Callinan QC ended his presidency urging his successor to continue to agitate for
other areas the Association was more successful - their submissions
were in part responsible for saving the Local Government Court as the definitive planning tribunal for the State and they made some
headway in their push for the establishment of a Court of Appeal.
of the High Court of
Callinan’s appointment to the Bench of the High Court was the
first appointment directly from the private Bar since that of Sir
Keith Aickin in 1976.
Honour brings to this Court a wealth of legal experience, a breadth
of knowledge of life and wide experience of the Australian community
generally. Your legal knowledge and intellectual abilities, your
capacity to grasp issues quickly, your probity, as well as your many
achievements during a long and successful career at the Bar, equip
you well for this important appointment.”
Hon. D. Williams, AM, QC, Attorney-General for the Commonwealth, at
the swearing-in of the Hon. Justice Ian Callinan as a Judge of the
High Court of Australia, 3 February 1998.
the best traditions of the Bar, your door was open to all.
You would readily accept a speculative brief for an injured
plaintiff whose prospects of success were but modest ones.”
R.W. Gotterson QC, at the occasion of the swearing-in of
Honourable Ian Callinan QC as a Justice of the High
Court of Australia,
3 February 1998