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Justice Bowskill appointed as our second female Chief Justice

Queensland Supreme Court Senior Judge Administrator Helen Bowskill was this morning announced as the state’s new Chief Justice – the second woman to hold the state’s top judicial office.

Justice Bowskill will become Queensland’s second head of the state’s courts and replaces the inaugural female office holder – Chief Justice Catherine Holmes AC – who has held the top job since 11 September 2015.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this morning congratulated Justice Bowskill on her appointment and thanked Chief Justice Holmes for her more than 22 years as a Supreme Court judge – six and a half of them as the jurisdiction’s chief.

“Justice Bowskill is well qualified for the top position of Chief Justice and brings a wealth of experience and skills to the role,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “Her Honour, a university medallist in law from QUT, was admitted as a barrister to the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1998. She practised widely in public, administrative and commercial law, with a particular focus on native title law.”

Justice Bowskill was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2013, appointed to District Court on 10 November 2014, and then appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland’s Trial Division in 2017 after more than two and a half years as a judge of the District Court.

Most recently, Justice Bowskill was appointed Senior Judge Administrator in August 2021.

Queensland Law Society President Kara Thomson welcomed Justice Bowskill’s appointment – saying her Honour was ideally suited for the role.

“QLS very warmly welcomes the appointment of the Honourable Justice Helen Bowskill as Chief Justice of Queensland, the leader of the Queensland courts,” Ms Thomson said.

“Justice Bowskill is ideally suited to this appointment and is highly respected both as a judicial officer and a leader in the legal profession in Queensland.

“Her Honour has frequently engaged and consulted with QLS in her role as Senior Judge Administrator of the Supreme Court throughout the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has championed the Court’s work to develop its technology and processes.

“Justice Bowskill’s judicial experience in the District Court, the Childrens Court, the Planning and Environment Court and most recently in the Supreme Court, will be invaluable in leading the Queensland courts into a new era.

“We wish Justice Bowskill all the best on her appointment and look forward to maintaining our close working relationship with the Court.”

Queensland Bar Association President Tom Sullivan QC, in a short statement, also welcomed the appointment.

“The Association congratulates Justice Bowskill,” he said.

Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said Justice Bowskill was widely-respected within the legal profession, and renowned for her measured and compassionate approach to the court.

“Since her appointment as Senior Judge Administrator in 2021, Justice Bowskill has shown great leadership and will contribute greatly the Queensland justice system in her new role,” the Attorney said.

“Justice Bowskill has recently demonstrated her interest in mental health issues facing the legal profession, presenting papers at the ODPP Crown Prosecutor’s Conference and to Queensland magistrates in 2021. These presentations have been well received and benefit the broader administration of justice.”

Ms Fentiman said Chief Justice Holmes had proved a steadfast leader of the Queensland justice system during her tenure as Chief Justice.

“Her Honour has been a trailblazer in the profession for so many women, and her leadership of the court during COVID-19 was commendable, ensuring Queenslanders have continued access to justice during the global pandemic,” she said.

“Chief Justice Holmes is one of the foremost legal minds in the state, and she has proved a steadfast leader of the Queensland justice system during her tenure as Chief Justice. I thank the Chief Justice for her service to the courts and to Queensland over her distinguished career.”

Justice Bowskill will replace Chief Justice Catherine Holmes AC on 19 March 2022.

A valedictory ceremony to honour Chief Justice Holmes has been scheduled for Friday 18 March 2022.

Legal practitioners and members of the public are invited to attend the ceremony to celebrate Chief Justice Holmes’s retirement. It will be held in the QEII Courts of Law’s ceremonial Banco Court, in George Street, at 9.15am.

Attendees will be required to check in using QR codes in the foyer of the QEII Courts of Law Building upon entry, or by physically recording their details on forms provided.

If the Banco Court reaches capacity, Courts 3 and 4 on level 3 will be available as an overflow courtroom from which the ceremony can be viewed.

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