Proctor : April 2018
46 PROCTOR | April 2018 Justice John Daniel Murray Muir 27 December 1944 – 10 February 2018 As John would surely appreciate, I will begin with a dry recital of some dates and times. John was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court on 3 April 1997. Ten years later, he was appointed to the Court of Appeal. In the meantime, he served on the Land Appeal Court for three years; he served as a Commercial List Judge for five years after 2002; he was chair of the Queensland Law Reform Commission for three years; and he was chair of the Bar Practice Centre for two years and was actively involved in its mentoring of new barristers for many more. For nine years, he shouldered the heavy, but distinctly unexciting, burden of membership of the Rules Committee, a dull but vital job responsible for ensuring that the machinery by which the courts operate is kept in good repair. After his appointment to the Court of Appeal, he served for seven years, until statutory retirement on 15 December 2014. Afterwards, his public service continued in work as an arbitrator and as the head of inquiries into important aspects of the life of the community including the Byzantine mysteries of the Queensland racing industry. Ordinarily, when one recites the bare facts of a judicial career, the recital can seem rather spare – appointed on such and such a date and retired some time later – but even the bare recital of the simple facts of John’s judicial career suggests the reality of a life rich in public service and personal achievement. Before undertaking his judicial career, John had spent more than 20 years at the Bar. He took silk in November 1986 after a little more than 10 years as a junior. He had, of course, worked for five years as a solicitor here and in London. It may well have been at that time that he developed his sensitivity for the realities of commerce that gave him an instinctive feel for the dynamics of commercial disputes, and made him, it seemed, a natural as a commercial lawyer and judge. When he was at the Bar, many of us here today appeared with and against him. Some of us had the joy and privilege of sharing chambers with him. He was riotously good fun in chambers. There can be a lot of pressure and anxiety in barristers’ chambers before court. Dropping in for a chat with John, whether to ask for his advice on a difficult point, or just to chew the fat, was a sovereign cure for pre-trial nerves. Even as an opponent in court, his dry sense of humour always ensured that no contest was ever more unpleasant that the conflict between the parties required it to be. As an advocate he was, from his earliest days at the Bar, in demand for the heaviest cases. For many years before his appointment to the Bench, he was constantly engaged in the hardest fought commercial litigation in the state. As a silk, he went from trial to trial – in cases that were often many weeks long – back to back for months on end without any break between trials except for the weekends that he spent in preparation. He did this for years. The rest of us stood in awe as he went from case to case without a break.