Welcome ceremony for his Honour Justice Ian Jackman SC to the Federal Court of Australia

Daniel Klineberg

On 23 March 2023, in a ceremonial sitting of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, Ian Jackman SC was welcomed as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. His Honour had been sworn-in previously, at a private ceremony conducted by Allsop CJ and in the presence of judges of the Federal Court. Court 1 on Level 21 of the Law Courts Building was overflowing with judges of other courts, members of the profession and of the community. Those present included Justices Gleeson and Jagot of the High Court of Australia, Chief Justice Alstergren, Chief Justice Bell, President Ward and many judges of the NSW Court of Appeal, judges of the Supreme Court and of the Land and Environment Court, former justices of the High Court: the Honourable William Gummow AC KC and the Honourable Dyson Heydon KC; and former judges of the Federal Court of Australia. Also in attendance was former Prime Minister, the Honourable Tony Abbott AC.

Those addressing the Full Court comprised Jane Supit, Senior Executive Lawyer at the Australian Government Solicitor representing the Attorney-General; Ruth Higgins SC, the Senior Vice President of the NSW Bar Association and representing the Australian Bar Association; and Cassandra Banks, the President of the Law Society of NSW and representing the Law Council of Australia.

Justice Jackman was born in England and migrated to Australia, with his family as ten pound Poms, at the age of four.

His Honour attended Knox Grammar School in Sydney, playing rugby and cricket and participating in school plays. While at Knox, his Honour was vice-captain and dux achieving the second highest HSC mark in New South Wales in 1980.

In 1981, his Honour attended St Andrew’s College at Sydney University. In 1984 his Honour graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours and the following year won the Rhodes Scholarship for New South Wales. While at Sydney University, his Honour played rugby with the Sydney University Football Club. Among his teammates was former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whom his Honour described as his ‘favourite loosehead prop’.

His Honour made the most of his years at Oxford. His Honour described his experience as ‘so immensely enjoyable that I almost forgot to come home’. His Honour completed, first, a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence, graduating with first class honours and then the Bachelor of Civil Law, being awarded the Gibbs Prize in Law. Away from the classroom, his Honour continued to play rugby, playing hooker in a number of games for the Oxford Blues and touring France twice. He also earned a prize oar blade rowing in the annual Torpids Regatta.

While at Oxford, his Honour also published The Varieties of Restitution, contending that the law of restitution was based on several different rationales, not just unjust enrichment. That view was unorthodox at the time, though not so today. As Ruth Higgins SC noted, ‘Oxford University has now finally come into line with your Honour with the publication last month of Professor Robert Stevens’ monograph The Laws of Restitution. I emphasise the plural.’

His Honour was convinced to return to Australia by Justice Gummow AC KC, then a judge of the Federal Court, with the offer to be his associate. That was no doubt an invaluable learning experience for his Honour, giving him the opportunity, in his Honour’s words, ‘to witness firsthand the dissection of counsel’s arguments with a scalpel and, if I may say so with the greatest respect, without the benefit of anaesthetic’.

Encouraged by Justice Gummow, his Honour was called to the Bar in 1989, reading with Bret Walker SC. From his first year at the Bar, his Honour worked closely with the then Dyson Heydon KC, who encouraged his Honour to join Eight Selborne, from where he practised for 33 years.

During his time at the Bar, his Honour built a distinguished practice. Although his Honour specialised in commercial and company law, he quickly developed a reputation as both a fantastic all-rounder and a fearsome cross-examiner, both as a junior and after taking silk in 2002. His Honour appeared in over 900 published and reported cases, including many intermediate and High Court appeals and including, in the more recent period before his Honour’s appointment, representing insurers in COVID-19 business interruption cases in the Federal Court and the High Court.

In addition to his practice at the Bar, his Honour was a member of the Commonwealth Government’s Takeovers Panel from 2014, resigning on his appointment to the Bench.

Outside of work, his Honour is a devoted family man. During his time at the Bar, his Honour would always leave at 5pm to catch the ferry home to his wife Nicola and their four children, Alexander, Nick, Ewan and Hazel. His Honour also maintains his interests in rugby (keeping a keen eye on Sydney University in the Shute Shield), cricket, as well as skiing and theatre.

As Ruth Higgins SC noted, his Honour ‘brings to the bench qualities of intellectual independence, fairness, integrity and efficiency’. These qualities and the character of Justice Jackman will ensure that his Honour will make the finest contribution to the Federal Court. BN

Daniel Klineberg

Eight Selborne Chambers