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Supreme Court History Program Yearbook 2007 - Book Review Print E-mail


Editors: Michael White and Aladin Rahemtula
Publisher: Supreme Court Library, 2008
Reviewed by Michael Campbell

The back cover to this Yearbook quotes David Ash (2007) 29 Australian Bar Review 310 as saying:-

‘… in these days of retrievable - and alterable - information, it is refreshing to see a publication whose primary purpose is the opposite, to provide an enduring record of a given period for the benefit of those of us following…This snapshot of a year’s activity is a well-conceived reminder that the present is but our helpmeet in our voyage from the past to the future’.

This is an extremely apt quotation which exemplifies the content and character of the Supreme Court History Program Yearbook 2007.

This is the third issue of the Supreme Court History Program Yearbook 2007 and, for the 2007 year, it was edited by Dr Michael White QC, Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland and Aladin Rahemtula, the well-known Supreme Court Librarian.

As one would expect with such a work, it contains reviews of Queensland cases and Queensland legislation, which is the principal reason I purchased the Supreme Court History Program Yearbook 2007 prior to agreeing to review it.

The review of Queensland cases commences with the Court of Appeal and provides a short case note of the principal decisions handed down each month from February through to December 2007.

There is a similar review in respect of matters determined by the Supreme Court Trial Division, again noted on a month by month basis.

This is also the case for the District Court of Queensland, which review includes the Children’s Court and the Planning and Environment Court, which latter review is in the form of a commentary rather than a month by month review of leading authorities.

Queensland Legislation is considered firstly in relation to Queensland Acts as Passed in alphabetical order and it is followed by a similar treatment of Queensland Subordinate Legislation.

There are a number of book reviews by Justices of the Supreme Court, as well as members of the Queensland Bar and others including the co-editor, Aladin Rahemtula.

There is a concluding section entitled “Legal Personalia” which details appointments to and retirements from the High Court of Australia, the Supreme, District and Magistrates Court of Queensland, as well as the Federal, Family and Federal Magistrates Courts of Australia.  This is a comprehensive review which extends to complete lists of legal practitioners admitted during the year, 2007, as well as extending to detailing some of the leading students (University Medallists) from the Universities in Queensland which offer law degrees.

In addition, there are interesting articles written by the Honourable BH McPherson CBE.  A history of the Maryborough Courthouse is contained in pictorial format as well as an interesting article on the Brisbane Bar in the early 1950’s.

The Yearbook 2007 is an informative mix of history and memorabilia and notes on cases and legislation of legal significance.

Perhaps one of the more interesting, and arguably more significant, sections of the review comprises the tributes to the retiring members of the judiciary.  In this regard, the Yearbook concentrates on the Honourable IDF Callinan, the Honourable GN Williams, the Honourable MP Moynihan and the Honourable JWB Helman.

These tributes have been written by various persons associated with those now retired learned Judges. This provides a pleasant and interesting contrast of writing styles and content.  For example, David de Jersey has written of his time as an Associate to IDF Callinan and Damien Mullins SC has written an item in relation to Justice Williams entitled “Justice Glen Williams AO and Cricket”. Damien, of course, is both a member of Senior Counsel and heavily involved in cricket in Queensland and elsewhere.

All in all, this review is an interesting compilation not restricted to an annual review of case law and legislation.

In my view it serves as a well documented record of 2007 from various perspectives. At $25.00, its 392 pages are likely to constitute the best value book purchase you will make in 2008.

Michael Campbell


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