Queensland Law Society

Welcome Ceremony : Magistrates Howden, Sinclair and Davies

Friday 28 April 2017, 9am

Brisbane Magistrates Court

May it please the court.

I am honoured to be here today to welcome, on behalf of the 11, 000 Solicitors of Queensland, your honours magistrates Mark Howden, Andrew Sinclair and Robbie Davies. All three are welcome additions to this busy and important court.

It is oft said that the magistrates court is the coalface of the legal system, and there is some truth to that-if a person comes into contact with the legal system, there is a very good chance it will be in the magistrates court.

If it is a coalface, however, it is one which must be worked with surgeon’s tools, not a pick and shovel. It is not enough to know a little about a lot of different areas to be a magistrate-a person must know a lot about a lot. The job description runs the gamut from criminal to civil, property to family, defamation to local laws; there is nowhere to hide in the magistrates court, and only the most agile and experienced practitioners can survive on its bench.

It speaks well of the Queensland legal profession-and indeed, makes me proud to be a part of it-that we can produce not just one, but three candidates who possess the rare and valuable qualities to fill the role of magistrate.

It is worth noting that all three of today’s new magistrates are well-travelled, both geographically and in areas of practice. That experience will stand you all in good stead when dealing with the comprehensive practice of the magistrates court and the broad-and often colourful-cast of characters from which its litigants are drawn.

Magistrate Howden is a Queensland Law Society Accredited specialist and has presented at QLS events, for which I am truly thankful. Your honour has been at both the private bar and at legal aid, experiences which will serve you well handling the diversity of the magistrates court.

I also note that this is not the only high office your honour holds, being regarded as an honorary earl amongst your peers. Your honour is also well-known for a devotion to young, hip fashions, so perhaps during your tenure we will see a hoodie on the bench rather than at the bar table. You won’t feel out of place, as my colleagues at the Bar enjoy dressing up as well.

Magistrate Sinclair has pursued a broad practice as well and has also presented at QLS seminars-again, my thanks for your honour’s generosity in that regard-and has experience in both prosecution and defence work, which will give your honour unique insight into all aspects of the matters which come before you.

Your honour is also one of those rare lawyers who actually understands-rather than fears-computers. Indeed, I am advised that your honour was the proud possessor of your legendary namesake, the Sinclair ZX-81 home computer, back in 1980, meaning you know what it is to live in fear of ‘the wobble’.

Magistrate Davies also has experience in both prosecution and defence work, and brings an international point of view to the bench; your honour has literally top-to-bottom experience in the Australian legal profession, having worked in both Darwin and Hobart.

I understand your honour to be a keen skier and an avid runner, having clocked a time of 21 minutes 11 seconds for the Toowoomba 5k park run. A devotion to sport is something your honour and I share, I enjoy snow skiing, but it is in my off piste sporting pursuits where I excel, in the sport shopping, although there my personal best times are generally measured in days rather than hours.

In closing, on behalf of Queensland’s solicitors I wish you all long and successful tenures in your new roles, which will no doubt be challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

May it please the court.