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Array of appointments for NSW courts

The senior public defender, a law firm partner, a Federal Circuit Court judge and several barristers are among the seven new appointments to the NSW judiciary in recent weeks.

user iconGrace Ormsby 07 January 2019 The Bar
nsw supreme court building seven new appointments for nsw courts
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The Supreme Court of NSW will see senior public defender Mark Ierace SC join its common law division ranks, to be sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on 31 January.

Commenting on Mr Ierace’s appointment, Attorney-General Mark Speakman said, “Mr Ierace brings nearly four decades of legal expertise to the judiciary, including 37 years as one of the most renowned criminal law barristers in NSW and internationally.”

In his role as senior public defender, “he has appeared in hundreds of serious and high-profile criminal trials for clients who have been granted legal aid”, Mr Speakman continued.


Mr Ierace acted as a war crimes prosecutor in the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, he continued, leading the team that prosecuted the commander of the Bosnian Serbian forces that perpetrated the siege of Sarjevo”, the Attorney-General noted.

On the same day as Mr Ierace’s elevation was confirmed, Mr Speakman also announced the appointment of a new president of the Workers Compensation Commission.

Industrial lawyer Gerard Phillips will take up the role, and will replace the retiring president Judge Greg Keating.

Simultaneously to the presidency, Mr Speakman said Mr Phillips will also join the NSW District Court bench, with both appointments commencing on 23 January 2019.

The K&L Gates partner “is undoubtedly a leader in the field of industrial relations law and he joins the commission at a critical juncture in the development of the dispute resolution system”, the Attorney-General regarded.

He also noted that Mr Phillips has “practiced extensively in every state in Australia and also the United Kingdom, appearing in all NSW court jurisdictions, as well as the High Court, across a range of criminal, civil, personal injury, industrial relations and employment matters”, and brings more than 30 years of legal experience to his new roles.

The appointment of Mr Phillips to the District Court of NSW comes alongside a further five new appointments to the court.

South Australian District Court judge Susanne Cole and Federal Circuit Court judge Justin Smith SC will take up new positions in NSW, alongside barristers Graham Turnbull SC, Alister Abadee and Sharon Harris.

All five are to be sworn in this February.

In addition to District Court duties, Judge Cole will serve as a deputy president of NCAT and the head of its Administrative and Equal Opportunity and Occupational Division, Mr Speakman said.

“It is a coup for NSW to secure the services of two highly-respected judges from other Australian courts and it further demonstrates the high esteem in which our justice system is held across the nation,” he explained.

“The District Court of NSW will also benefit from the considerable expertise of Mr Turnbull, who has worked extensively in criminal law both in Australia and overseas, Mr Abadee, who has been a leader in civil litigation for many years, and Ms Harris, a prosecutor with extensive experience, particularly in the difficult field of child sex abuse.”

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