Thank you for speaking with Hearsay. I was lucky to prise you out of court or conference to do so.
10 Minutes with…Danny Gore KC
Danny Gore KC was admitted in 1974 and took silk in 1987 – 36 years ago. He practiced criminal law and general commercial law for many years and then specialised in the spheres of planning and environmental law, resources law, Land Court litigation and appellate advocacy. In broader legal space he is an experienced mediator. Danny has diverse interests – primarily his family – but otherwise rugby union, cooking (and restaurants), movies, travel and health and fitness. He is an aficionado of a former leading barrister and jurist the Honourable Peter Connolly QC.
Danny spoke with the editor Richard Douglas KC.
Happy to speak with you. I always like to find time to share thoughts and experiences with my colleagues.
You are one of the busiest barristers in Queensland. With the passage of the years, have you found it difficult to get up for the next case?
Thank you for your generous introduction.
No, in general terms, I have not looked for the “pause” button or the “stop” button. The work is intellectually very stimulating, and it is fairly accurate to say that no two cases are the same. I enjoy the differences between conferences and Court work, and the range of people that you get to meet through working at the Bar.
Recent decades have seen many silks not seek out judicial appointment, with the result that they appear before judges who were their juniors or even admitted after they became silk. Is that problematic?
On the contrary, it is a positive thing. First, it is important to both Bench and Bar that there are members of the Bar who remain there for many decades. I mention Tom Hughes KC from the NSW Bar (now retired, but 99 years old) as an early example of that practice, and the recently passed David Jackson AM KC, initially of the Queensland Bar, as a later example. Secondly, Judges are appointed on merit, and it is irrelevant to the role that the barrister must perform whether there is a ”seniority shortfall” (say, where the Judge was appointed before the barrister was even admitted) or a “seniority excess” (for example, where the Judge was not admitted to the Bar until after the barrister became Silk). To modify an expression used by Richard Burton in “Where Eagles Dare” (also starring Clint Eastwood, and still an excellent movie): “A Judge is a Judge is a Judge”. Thirdly, part of the beauty of the profession is that one does get to know the preferences and practices of one’s colleagues, and that can assist with the proper presentation of a case.
You have been renowned for always being trim and athletic. Does the gym play an important role in that outcome?
Thank you again for the generous introduction.
Yes, I think that physical health plays an important part with mental health. For me, it is almost a tangible thing. My practice is to do my exercise in the morning and, should I fail to do it, I do tend to have a bad day. Conversely, it is surprising how often the endorphins produce a few key thoughts or themes before the exercise session is completed.
Was the fact that your father was a well-known barrister a catalyst for your career choice?
It was more than that. From a very young age, even before I attended primary school, my father told me that I was to be a barrister. He said it in such a way that I seemed to have no choice. So, when I was in primary school, I would tell my friends that I was going to be a barrister, not a fire engine driver. They knew what a fire engine driver was, but I do not think that many of them knew what a barrister was. When I was doing my university studies, I was conscripted under the McMahon Government for active service in Vietnam, which was effective immediately, if I changed my studies. So, the prospect of being a fire engine driver was again taken away. By the time of my admission in 1974, the Whitlam Government was in power, and conscription had been abolished, but I was looking forward to practice as a barrister.
When speaking as a member of any CPD panel you have often responded by relating anecdotes of the Honourable Peter Connolly QC. I take you held him in high regard?
Most definitely. When I started at the Bar, Peter Connolly was the leader of the Bar, in terms of seniority and professional standing. He was an extraordinary advocate, with true High Court potential. But he was very much a part of the tough old school, who would tear strips off anyone who did not meet his standards. In 1975, we both had chambers in the old Inns of Court (a former boot factory), which had a ground level, and 2 levels above; it had a small lift; Connolly was on level 2, and I was on level 1; we would occasionally be the only 2 people in the lift; on what was probably the first occasion, I said: “Good morning Mr Connolly”; Connolly turned on me with a rather aggressive look and said: “Gore, at the Bar, there is no formal term of address between colleagues; you either call me Peter, or you call me Connolly…not Mr Connolly!”; as if I had a stutter, I responded:
“Thank you Mr…err…Connolly…err….sorry…Mr Connolly….err…sorry…Connolly”.
Self-confidence was one of Connolly’s attributes. He once said to me: “I may not always be right, but I am never in doubt”.
I would like to add that I believe I started at the Bar at a very privileged time, in the sense that the leading members of the Bar (both senior and junior counsel) were an outstanding group of advocates. It is impossible to list them all in this exchange, and I ask for forgiveness from those whom I do not mention, but it was impossible not to be in awe of the likes of Hampson QC, Pincus QC, Fitzgerald QC, Jackson QC, Callinan QC, McPherson QC, Davies QC, Sturgess.
Is it fair to characterise the planning and environment bar as a “club”?
I do not favour the term “club”; nor do I favour the term “the parks and gardens jurisdiction”. When I was still a student, I had the honour of working for 2 years as the clerk (now termed Associate) to Judge Lindsay Byth, who was the first Judge of the Local Government Court (now Planning & Environment Court); the Judge was appointed in 1966. It was common for the leading members of the senior Bar to appear in cases before Judge Byth (the likes of Connolly QC, Macrossan QC, Hampson QC, Pincus QC, Callinan QC, Davies QC) and, as my Judge commonly pointed out to me, cases in the Court were not subject to the monetary jurisdictional limit of the District Court, and often involved sums of money (which could be assessed in different way) which exceeded the amounts at stake in many Supreme Court cases. These were indicators that the Bar that appeared before the Court was anything but a club, and that the cases that they were dealing with were not about parks and gardens.
Times have, of course, changed since then, with general practices being largely a thing of the past, and specialisation the approach of the present. While there are barristers who specialise in Planning & Environment Court work, there are equally other fields where a specialist Bar can be identified – for example, criminal law, family law, taxation law, commercial law. I enjoy the companionship of the barristers and Judges in the Planning & Environment field but, as I have really indicated, I do not call it a “club”.
Frequently you attend the swearing-in of new judges and valedictories for retiring judges. Why is that important?
It is important for several reasons. The Bar is a very collegiate profession. That is extremely important, given that we spend our working lives in conflict with each other. It means that we generally foster great fondness and respect for our colleagues. Most appointments to the bench do come from the ranks of the Bar, and it is well known that an appointment to the bench does carry with it an inability to maintain friendships with former colleagues, without making an adjustment to those friendships to respect the principle that appearances in the field of justice are just as important as justice itself. Additionally, the proper administration of justice depends heavily upon a close professional relationship between the Bench and the Bar, such that each can rely on the other to perform his or her duty in a helpful and respectful way.
So, for a swearing-in ceremony, the upshot is that the ceremony is a distinct marker of that change in the professional relationship; it is an opportunity to show respect and congratulations for the appointee’s career up to that point; but it is also a ceremonious way of acknowledging that the nature of the relationship, for the future, will change.
Valedictories are, by definition, a farewell ceremony. I know of no other profession where valedictories are so faithfully honoured. Because we work so closely with (and against) our colleagues, both at the Bar and Bench levels, a valedictory will commonly involve saying farewell, with a tinge of sadness, to someone that you have come to know and respect over a lengthy period. But even for new barristers, it is important to attend the ceremony to show that respect.
How will Australia fare at the 2023 World Cup in France, and are you attending?
As luck would have it, under current rankings, the top 5 nations in the world are on the opposite side of the draw to Australia, and that will result in certain disappointment for some currently top ranked sides, and potentially a win contrary to the rankings for Australia. Australia does generally rise to the occasion at the World Cup, and the Eddie Jones factor should mean that they fare well this year. However, whilst they may make the final, I stop short of predicting a win – my expectation is that France will finally, and deservedly, win a World Cup.
My son (Hunter) lives and works in London. He is attending the Cup, and I did explore catching up with him. However I am attending a conference in Dublin in June, and a wedding in France in July, and then seeing Hunter in London, and a return trip to France in September might just be too much travel in a short time frame.
What advice would you give to a barrister commencing practice in 2023?
When I started at the Bar after admission in 1974, a senior colleague told me: “You look after your phone, and your phone will look after you”. That was his way of saying that I needed to be accessible in my Chambers from early in the morning to late in the evening, to take those calls that involve the new briefs. Of course, in those days, we only had landlines, whereas a barrister commencing practice now is theoretically available on his mobile phone, or via emails, for 24 hours, both in Chambers or at home. But the basic concept is the same – be accessible, and take on any challenge that is offered. It is also important to find chambers with colleagues who share similar goals, and to mix with the solicitors branch at professional functions, including CLE occasions. The primary goals are to become known, and to earn and develop a good reputation.
What do you see as the principal challenges for conduct of civil litigation over the next decade?
The principal challenges arise out of the increasing complexity of cases. Despite – or perhaps because of – advances in technology, cases nowadays generally go for much longer than in the past. Legislation is more complex; Court judgments are more extensive; disputed issues are wider and more varied. Contemporary case management techniques are designed to cope with these problems. But the challenge will require both Bench and Bar to step up.
Thank you for speaking with Hearsay.
Thanks Richard. As I said at the start, it is always a pleasure to share thoughts and experiences with colleagues.