Eulogy for Henry Arthur Weld
28 September 2015.
After his admission as a Solicitor in 1958, Henry Weld had two distinct careers — first 22 years as a practising Solicitor and then 25 years as a Member of the Archdiocesan Finance Board.
Henry studied Arts-Law at the University of Queensland, graduating in 1958. He was articled to the firm of John P. Kelly and Co. He was always grateful for what the Kellys taught him and a copy of John P. Kelly’s portrait always graced his study wall.
Henry’s 22 years as a Solicitor were distinguished. He practised widely — particularly in the fields of Equity, Civil Litigation, Conveyancing, Company & Commercial, Taxation and the law of property in general. He quickly earned a justified reputation as a “black letter lawyer”.
One example will suffice to illustrate how apt that description was:-
Henry acted for the seller in a multi-million dollar sale. The purchasers’ solicitor was a large long-established legal firm. Before settlement, Henry’s client made a firm decision not to proceed with the sale. The purchaser’s solicitor wrote requesting details for settlement. Henry replied “We have no instructions”. He then received an irate request demanding the information be given. Henry’s reply “we are instructed to say we have no instructions”.
He involved himself actively in the affairs of the profession, becoming a Member of the Council of the Queensland Law Society in 1976, and remained on the Council till his appointment as a Master of the Supreme Court in 1980.
He was Chairman of the Conveyancing Committee; the Stamp Duty and Titles Office Committee of the Society, and a Member of many other Society Committees.
During those 22 years Henry was active in many ways.
He was the first Editor of the Queensland Law Society Journal on its inception in 1970.
Henry also published extensively. I mention only the more significant.
He was co-author of the textbook “The Standard Land Contract and Conveyancing in Queensland” published by the Law Book Company in 1976; the Queensland editor of the Second Edition of the Australian Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents (a publication of some 16 volumes); the Queensland editor of the standard textbook Francis’ “Mortgages and Securities” (2nd Edition); the Queensland editor of the standard textbook Hutleys “Will Precedents” (3rd Edition) and co-author of the loose leaf service, Ryan, Weld and Lee’s “Queensland Supreme Court Practice” with Justice K. W. Ryan and Justice W.C. Lee from 1984 -1999.
He lectured in legal drafting and civil procedure at the University of Queensland Law School and was a special lecturer in Legal Drafting and Conveyancing at the QUT College of Law.
Henry was a member of the Board of Faculty of Law at the University of Queensland and a Member of the Supreme Court Library Committee.
He delivered numerous papers at legal conventions and seminars throughout the State.
If I could digress before dealing with Henry’s work for the Archdiocesan Financial Board. Henry was a lover of good literature and a voracious reader. Over a number of years, Henry and I attempted to formulate a list of the ten (10) best books we had read. We had numerous attempts but never got past book 4, and at no stage did we ever agree on any one book to be placed on the list. The project was eventually abandoned.
Henry’s appointment in 1980 as one of the first two Masters of the Supreme Court (unusual for a solicitor) was a position he held until he resigned in 1988. A present member of the Supreme Court remembers him as polite, sharp and decisive — he was well known for delivering ex tempore judgments.
After this Henry practised at the Queensland Bar as a member of Bracton Chambers, where one of his colleagues has described him as demonstrating “a rich vein of wisdom, learning and the common sense of the law, a great wit and a love of fun”. He also became an Executive Director of Defiance Mills Limited.
Archdiocesan Finance Board
Henry’s achievement in his 22 years practising in the legal profession were outstanding, but there was more to come. From 1980 he was a Member — and then Chairman – of the Archdiocesan Finance Board for 25 years.
His work for the Archdiocese during that time was prodigious. He was involved in considerable major litigation. I mention the most significant.
1. His first was the planning and eventual sale of the Holy Name Cathedral site in 1985 — this site (which was categorised by the press as “one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Brisbane” and “the largest commercial and residential property parcel offered in the last 25 years”) — was acquired by the Archdiocese almost 200 years ago — the foundation stone for the Cathedral was laid in 1828.
2. He was the Archbishop’s adviser throughout the restoration of St Stephen’s Cathedral from 1983 to 1989.
3. Henry was closely involved in the purchase of Hesketh House in 1983 and the transformation of the site as a Cathedral precinct. This involved litigation lasting nine (9) years. That litigation was ultimately determined by a Court of Appeal decision which upheld the first use of a Liturgical Certificate in Queensland on constitutional grounds, and resulted in the new $13 million liturgical and pastoral space now known as “The Francis Rush Centre”.
4. Henry was responsible for the Roman Catholic Church (Incorporation of Church Entities) Act 1994 — a vital piece of new legislation applicable to the Church throughout Queensland. This involved 10 years of negotiations through 2 successive governments. Henry was involved in every phase of that process throughout those 10 years.
5. Henry played a major role in perhaps the most difficult court case the Church ever undertook, in which the Queensland Supreme Court ultimately confirmed the validity of a gift to the Church of a significant portion of land (valued in excess of $5 million) at Sanctuary Cove. An appeal against that judgment to the Court of Appeal was eventually withdrawn.
Henry made many other contributions to the affairs of the Archdiocese, too numerous to mention. All were successful. Relying on Henry’s advice the Archdiocese did not lose a Court case.
His contribution is best summed up in a statement by Archbishop Rush when he said — “Henry Weld is the reason I am able to sleep at night”.
During his working years, Henry also served on many Boards. For some years he was on the board of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and also of the Queensland Youth Orchestra. He was also involved (with the late Cedric Hampson QC) in the establishment of the Council at St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, his old school. He presided as Chair of the Terrace Council for 8 years.
We extend to Jill and Henry’s children and their families our sympathy on his passing. We will all miss you Henry. May you rest in peace.