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Patrick Keane Appointed To The High Court

The federal government has appointed the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Patrick Keane, to the High Court.

Patrick KeaneThe Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, made the announcement today. Keane will be the 50th person appointed to the High Court.

Keane will replace Justice John Dyson Heydon on March 1 next year. He is the Rudd-Gillard government’s fourth appointment to the seven-member court. He is 60 years old and will serve a maximum ten years on the court.

James Allsop will replace Keane as Chief Justice of the Federal Court. Allsop has been a Justice of the NSW Court of Appeal since 2008.

Keane is the Gillard government’s second appointment in the past few months. Stephen Gageler was appointed in October.

  • Listen to Nicola Roxon’s press conference announcement (24m)

Media release by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.

New High Court Justice and Federal Court Chief Justice

Nicole Roxon

I am very pleased to announce that on the recommendation of the Government, the Governor-General Her Excellency Quentin Bryce AC CVO has today appointed the Honourable Patrick Keane as Australia’s new Justice of the High Court of Australia, and the Honourable James Allsop as the next Chief Justice of the Federal Court.

Chief Justice Keane currently heads the Federal Court of Australia. He will be the 50th person appointed to the High Court since Federation.

Chief Justice Keane’s appointment will follow the retirement of the Honourable Justice John Dyson Heydon AC on 1 March 2013 after 10 years of dedicated service on the Court.

Chief Justice Keane has served as Chief Justice of the Federal Court since March 2010. Prior to that he served as a Judge on the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Queensland, and was Solicitor-General for Queensland for 13 years. Chief Justice Keane will join Justice Susan Kiefel as the second Queenslander on the bench of the High Court and he will be the eighth Queenslander ever to be appointed a High Court Justice.

Chief Justice Keane will be very ably replaced in his current position by Justice James Allsop. Justice Allsop is currently the President of the Court of Appeal, New South Wales Supreme Court – a position he has held since 2008, after serving on the Federal Court for seven years. His Honour will be the fourth Chief Justice appointed to the Federal Court since its inception.

In my consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, both Chief Justice Keane and Justice Allsop were regularly mentioned as individuals of outstanding intellect and capacity for hard work. Chief Justice Keane is widely respected for the leadership and interpersonal skills he demonstrated in his time at the Federal Court. Justice Allsop is likewise widely admired for his leadership in the NSW Court of Appeal.

I thank both Chief Justice Keane and Justice Allsop for their service to the Australian legal community thus far, and congratulate them on their well-deserved appointments.

These appointments followed a wide range of consultations earlier this year in the search for new High Court Justices, and I trust the extent of this consultation will continue for future appointments to the High Court.

Short biographies of Patrick Keane and James Allsop follow.

Media contact: Attorney-General’s Office – 02 6277 7300

Biography of Patrick Keane, 50th Justice of the High Court of Australia

Current office:
Chief Justice of the Federal Court since March 2010

Previous positions:
2005-2010 Judge, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Queensland
1992-2005: Solicitor-General for Queensland
1990-92: Deputy Chairman, Queensland Law Reform Commission
1989-2005: Member, Supreme Court Library Committee
1978-79: Part-time Lecturer, University of Queensland
1978-2005: Barrister, Queensland Bar
1976-77: Solicitor, Feez Ruthning
1973-75: Articled Clerk, Roberts and Kane Solicitors

Appointed Queen’s Counsel, 1988
Bachelor of Civil Law (Hons), Oxford University, 1977
Admitted, Barrister, Supreme Court of Queensland, 1977
Admitted, Solicitor, Supreme Court of Queensland, 1976
Bachelor of Laws (Hons), University of Queensland, 1976
Bachelor of Arts, University of Queensland, 1973

Date of birth:
26 October 1952

Justice Keane grew up in Wilston, Brisbane. He attended St Columba’s Convent School and St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace where he was School Captain and Dux of the School.

He is married to Dr Shelley Keane. They have three sons and three grandchildren.

Biography of James Allsop, 4th Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia

Current office:
Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of New South Wales since 2008

Previous positions:
2008-11: Member of Board, Australian Maritime College, Launceston
2008-11: Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Sydney
2007-08: Deputy President, Australian Copyright Tribunal
2003-08: Additional Judge, Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory
2001-08: Judge, Federal Court of Australia
1981-2001: Barrister
1980-81: Associate to Chief Justice Nigel Bowen, Federal Court of Australia
1980: Articled Clerk, Freehill Hollingdale and Page Solicitors, Sydney

Appointed Queen’s Counsel, Western Australia, 1998
Appointed Senior Counsel, New South Wales, 1994
Admitted, Barrister, Supreme Court of New South Wales and High Court of Australia, 1981
University Medal in Law, 1980
Bachelor of Laws (First Class Hons), University of Sydney, 1980
Bachelor of Arts, University of Sydney, 1974

Date of birth:
7 April 1953

Justice Allsop was born in Sydney and grew up in Kyeemagh and then Rose Bay in Sydney and is the second of three children of neurologist John Allsop and Philippa Allsop (nee Bain).

He is married to Katharine Forster and they have two children, William who is 23, a music student and musician, and Julia who is 20 and studying film and television production.

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