25 March 1999

New UQ chair in law honours former Australian Chief Justice

Sir Gerard Brennan, former Chief Justice of Australia's High Court, will be honoured by the University of Queensland with a new chair in law to be established in his name.

University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Hay will make the announcement at a cocktail function in the University's T. C. Beirne School of Law, Forgan Smith Building at St Lucia, on Friday, March 26 at 6pm.

Sir Gerard and Lady Patricia Brennan will be special guests at the announcement. Sir Gerard, a University of Queensland graduate, was appointed to the High Court of Australia in 1981, became Chief Justice in 1995 and retired last year.

The $1.4 million chair will be funded jointly by the University and the private sector over seven years then will be maintained in perpetuity by the University.

A donor board of legal firms and individuals will be unveiled at the Friday function.

Head of the T.C. Beirne School of Law Professor Tony Tarr said that Justice Glen Williams of the Queensland Supreme Court, and Adjunct Professors Jeff Mann of Mallesons Stephen Jacques and Peter Short of Allen Allen and Hemsley had played a key role in fundraising for the venture.

Professor Tarr said that establishment of the new chair was an integral part of a wider process of renewal within the T.C. Beirne School of Law, recognised as one of Australia's leading law schools.

This program would establish new benchmarks in teaching and research.

"An important part of this reform process is the School's commitment to interact more extensively with the legal profession, business, industry and government in order to provide education services which are more immediately relevant to the needs of such sectors," he said.

The initiatives also include the recent appointment of 19 adjunct professors drawn from the ranks of leading Australian legal practitioners, and a greatly expanded continuing education program.

Organisations and individuals with key responsibilities in the legal system had also been invited to contribute their time and expertise to various programs.

Professor Tarr said throughout its history the T.C. Beirne School of Law had been fortunate to attract a high percentage of the most gifted students in Queensland, as well as a significant number of the most qualified students from elsewhere in Australia and internationally.

Its graduates included two former Chief Justice of Australia (Sir Gerard Brennan and Sir Harry Gibbs), and many leaders of the legal profession.

Born in Rockhampton, Sir Gerard Brennan attended the Christian Brothers College in Rockhampton and Downlands College in Toowoomba before attending the University of Queensland to study arts and law, graduating in 1951.

In 1949, he was president of the National Union of Australian University Students and was admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1951. In 1965, he became a Queen's Counsel.

Sir Gerard has been president of the Bar Association of Queensland (1974-76), president of the Australian Bar Association (1975-76), a member of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-77), and president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (1976-79). He was an additional judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory (1976-81) and of the Australian Industrial Court over the same period and judge of the Federal Court of Australia (1977-81).

Sir Gerard was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Queensland in 1996. His honours also include an honorary doctorate in laws from Trinity College, Dublin; honorary doctorate in laws from Australian National University, honorary doctorate of letters from Central Queensland University, and honorary Doctor of the University of Griffith University.

He was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1988 and a Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1981.

Sir Gerard is Chancellor of the University of Technology, Sydney.

For further information, please contact Professor Tarr on (07) 3365 1021.