Brisbane solicitor turned judge elevated to position on Family Court of Australia bench

Respected former Brisbane solicitor turned Federal Circuit Court (FCC) Judge Paul Howard has been elevated to a role on the Family Court of Australia (FCoA) as one of four new judicial appointments announced by the nation’s newly sworn-in Federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash yesterday (1 April).

Judge Paul Howard, who has been a judge of Australia’s FCC since 2007, has been elevated to a judicial role based out of Brisbane’s FCoA registry, while three other lawyers have been appointed to the FCC in other states.

Ms Cash, in a statement obtained by Proctor, said: “I am pleased to announce that Judge Paul Anthony Howard has been appointed as a judge of the Family Court of Australia.”

“Judge Howard has been appointed to the Brisbane registry and will commence on 6 April 2021.

“The appointment of Judge Howard elevates him from his current position as a judge of the (FCC).”Judge Howard was admitted as a solicitor and barrister in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1986 and 1990, respectively. He commenced his legal career in 1987 as a solicitor at Pattisson & Barry Solicitors and then at Vercorp Pty Ltd in 1988.

Judge Howard then practised as a barrister from 1990 to 2007, before being appointed as a judge in the Brisbane Registry of the FCC in 2007, where he predominantly heard family law matters.

“On behalf of the Australian Government, I congratulate Judge Howard on his appointment and thank him for his willingness to continue to serve the people of Australia as a judge of the Family Court of Australia,’’ Ms Cash said.

Queensland Law Society President Elizabeth Shearer congratulated Judge Howard on his appointment and said he would bring a wealth of family law experience to the role.

The three other judicial appointments included barristers Jonathon Davis QC and Jennifer Howe to the FCC in Melbourne and Senior Registrar Colin Campbell to the FCC in Sydney.

Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia Will Alstergren yesterday welcomed the new appointments, saying all four had come at crucial time as both jurisdictions were poised to merge.

“These appointments come at a critical time for the Courts as they undertake significant reforms to facilitate the amalgamation of the two Courts, including a single point of entry and harmonised rules forms and case management, which commences from 1 September this year,’’ Chief Justice Alstergren said.

“In addition to this historic change, the Courts will continue to focus on initiatives aimed at reducing delays and enhancing risk assessment in family law matters.

“Now, perhaps more so than ever before, the Courts are determined to continue to focus on reducing delays and placing significant priority on the health and safety of families involved in parenting disputes.

“This includes the identification of risk at the earliest time in family law proceedings to protect vulnerable parties and children.

“Each Judge brings to the Courts their enormous skill, professionalism and diligence, both in family law and in general federal law and the appointment of such incredibly well respected practitioners further compliments the current cohort of outstanding and dedicated judges of the Courts.”

All appointments commence on 6 April 2021.

Ms Cash was this week sworn-in as Australia’s second female Federal Attorney-General after Nicola Roxon became the first woman appointed as the nation’s chief legal officer between December 2011 and February 2013.

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