Two appointed to Supreme Court Bench

Attorney-General and Justice Minister Shannon Fentiman today announced the appointment of two new judges to the Supreme Court of Queensland – Declan Kelly QC and Kerri Mellifont QC.

“Justice Kelly and Justice Mellifont have each gained broad legal expertise in the decades since their respective admissions as barristers, and are highly respected among their peers,” Ms Fentiman said.

“The breadth of the knowledge and experience they have gained from handling high-profile and complex matters in various jurisdictions make them valuable assets to the Supreme Court in helping deliver justice for Queenslanders.”

Ms Fentiman said Justice Kelly commenced his extensive legal career in 1991 as a law clerk at Feez Ruthning Solicitors.

“Justice Kelly was called to the Bar in 1993, commenced practice as a barrister in 1994 and was appointed as Senior Counsel in November 2007,” she said.

“In his commercial practice, his Honour has gained experience in a wide range of legal practice, including the fields of commercial, equity, trade practices, building and construction, and banking and finance.

“He has appeared in both state and federal jurisdictions and also in commercial arbitrations.

“Justice Kelly has displayed a strong appetite for appellate matters, highlighting the breadth of his experience in the superior courts at state and federal levels.

“He has experience in commissions of inquiry, having represented clients at the Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry and the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

“His Honour’s extensive skills and knowledge in commercial litigation and dispute resolution was recognised by being named one of Queensland leading silks by Doyle’s Guide in 2021.

Justice Mellifont was admitted to the Bar in 1994 and was made Senior Counsel (now Queen’s Counsel) in 2010.

“Her Honour commenced at the private Bar in 2001, having previously worked at the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Public Defender’s Office at Legal Aid Queensland for a total of 11 years,” Ms Fentiman said.

“During this time, she has practised in civil, administrative, criminal and regulatory litigation, appearing in both state and federal jurisdictions, and was named the Women’s Legal Association of Queensland’s Woman Lawyer of the Year in 2017.

“In her practice, she has also represented clients in inquests, judicial review, professional disciplinary proceedings, workplace health and safety, and environmental matters. She is also a qualified mediator.

“Her Honour has held senior roles with commissions of inquiry, most recently the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, and assisted the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry in 2011 and the Forde Inquiry into Child Abuse in 1998-99.

“Justice Mellifont holds a doctorate from the Queensland University of Technology in the topic of illegally and improperly obtained evidence and is a published author on that topic.

“She has also helped educate the next generation of legal practitioners, including First Nations students, teaching at the Queensland University of Technology and presenting at legal profession courses and seminars.”

“Justice Kelly and Justice Mellifont are eminent Queen’s Counsel, highly deserving of their new roles and will be great assets to the Supreme Court. I congratulate them on their appointment to the Bench.”

Queensland Law Society President Elizabeth Shearer welcomed the appointments, saying both QCs were well respected and well qualified for appointment to the Supreme Court.

“They each bring different experience – with Kelly QC having a substantial commercial practice and Dr Mellifont QC having a substantial criminal, regulatory and administrative law practice,” she said. “They have each contributed generously to the legal profession, holding positions of leadership and responsibility at the Queensland Bar.”

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