Chief Justice Holmes to depart after more than two decades on the bench

Queensland’s Chief Justice Catherine Holmes has announced her resignation after a little over six years in the post.

Oct 19, 2021, updated Oct 19, 2021
Commissioner Catherine Holmes is hearing evidence from the so-called Robodebt scandal. (Photo: AAP Image/Pool, Mark Cranitch)

Commissioner Catherine Holmes is hearing evidence from the so-called Robodebt scandal. (Photo: AAP Image/Pool, Mark Cranitch)

Justice Holmes, a prominent member of the state’s judiciary for nearly 22 years and one of the Queensland’s most experienced legal practitioners, issued a short statement on Tuesday saying she will step down on 19 March next year.

“By that date, I will have been Chief Justice for six and half years and a judge of the Supreme Court for 22 years,” she said.

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to hold both positions.”

Besides achieving a long and distinguished career on the Supreme Court bench, Holmes chaired the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry and was counsel assisting the Forde Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse in the late 1990s.

Attorney-General Sharon Fentiman praised Holmes’ leadership of the court throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, saying she ensured Queenslanders continued to have access to justice over that time.

“She is one of the foremost legal minds in the State, and she has proved a steadfast leader of the Queensland justice system during her tenure as Chief Justice,” Ms Fentiman said.

“In this role she has displayed the intellect and tenacity refined during a unique career in the judiciary and the law.”

In an interview with InQueensland at the height of pandemic last year, Holmes complained about the standard of technology in the courts, insisting he pandemic had shown the necessity for electronic case management.

That intervention prompted the government to set aside extra funding in last year’s Budget for a technology upgrade.

Fentiman said that Holmes had also been an inspiration to generations of women lawyers in Queensland.

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“Her Honour was a founding member of the Women’s Legal Service, and she was part of a generation who helped establish the position of women in the legal profession, as a prosecutor, as a barrister in private practice and as a judicial officer.”

“Over four decades of service to the justice system, Chief Justice Holmes has helped to build the strong representation of women we see today on the Bench in Queensland and across the legal profession.”

Queensland Law Society President Elizabeth Shearer expressed gratitude for the “fine leadership and service of the Chief Justice”.

“Chief Justice Holmes serves the people of Queensland tirelessly, and with great distinction,” she said.

“She is the first woman to have held the role of Chief Justice at the apex of our court system in Queensland, and her leadership is of particular inspiration to women in the legal profession.

“We look forward to the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate her contribution to the administration of justice in Queensland more formally in 2022.”


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