Highly respected Queensland Supreme Court Justice Philip McMurdo has announced he will step down after more than 20 years on the bench in April 2023.
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman late Friday announced Justice McMurdo had formally notified her of his intention to retire – capping off a stellar legal career spanning four and a half decades.
Justice McMurdo made legal history in 2003 when he joined his wife – Queensland’s first woman Court of Appeal (COA) President Margaret McMurdo – as a member of the state’s Supreme Court.
The eminent couple again broke Queensland legal profession records when Justice McMurdo was elevated to a permanent role on the COA in November 2015 alongside his wife – although they never decided on any matters together so as to avoid any possible perception of bias – until her retirement in March 2017.
His proposed retirement on 8 April 2023 will cap a distinguished 45-year legal career that included a stint as a solicitor with then prominent law firm Feez Ruthning (now known as Allens) in the late in 1970s.
Ms Fentiman, in a statement late on Friday, said Justice McMurdo had demonstrated a life-long commitment to the law, the profession and educating the next generation of practitioners in a career over more than 45 years.
“His Honour has been a strong defender of the courts and judicial independence, and is acknowledged as being collegiate and of the utmost integrity and honesty among his fellow judges and the wider legal profession,” Ms Fentiman said.
“His Honour was in charge of the court’s Supervised Case List from 2003 to 2007, then sat on Commercial List matters as well as hearing criminal and other civil cases until his appointment to the Court of Appeal in 2015.”
Justice Philip McMurdo served as President of the Judicial Conference of Australia and had two three-year terms as a part time member of the Law Reform Commission from 1995 to 2001.
“During this time the commission considered important legal issues relating to wills, limitations law, the giving of evidence by children in our justice system, the role of Justices of the Peace and young people’s consent to health care,” Ms Fentiman said.
“His Honour assisted the commission’s important examination of the need for a scheme to assist people in Queensland who had impaired decision-making ability. This resulted in an enhanced guardianship system including establishment of the Office of the Public Advocate and then Office of the Adult Guardian.”
Ms Fentiman said Justice McMurdo would leave a visible legacy in Brisbane as a member of the Judges’ Building Committee responsible for the current QEII Courts of Law building which opened in 2012.
“Legal minds of the calibre of Justice McMurdo enhance the community’s confidence in our legal system and I thank him on behalf of all Queenslanders for his dedication to helping them obtain access to justice,” she said.