New judicial appointments to Federal Circuit Court of Australia

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Court) welcomes the Government’s announcement today of the following appointments to Adelaide, Cairns and Melbourne. All commence on Monday 26 July 2021.

  • Meredith Dickson QC – Adelaide
  • Patricia Cope – Cairns
  • Jonathan Forbes – Melbourne
  • Catherine Symons – Melbourne

The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Hon Will Alstergren said that the continued appointments of such distinguished and skilled practitioners reflects the high esteem in which the Court and its judges are held by the profession.

“I am delighted to welcome such highly qualified and experienced judges to the Court, across a number of locations.

“Cairns-based Barrister Patricia Cope has been appointed to replace the Court’s long-term resident judge in Cairns, Judge Josephine Willis, who has transferred to Brisbane. It is excellent to see the appointment of a local practitioner to this important single-judge registry. I take this opportunity to thank Judge Willis for the extraordinary work that her Honour has undertaken for over 12 years in serving the communities of Cairns and far north Queensland,” Chief Justice Alstergren added.

Other appointments include:

Meredith Dickson QC has been appointed to the Adelaide registry, and has practised almost exclusively in family law since joining the independent bar in 2000. This is an important local appointment which comes with the respect of the local profession. Ms Dickson holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Adelaide and was admitted to training in 1991 and is a founding member of Elizabeth Evatt Chambers.

Jonathan Forbes has been appointed to the Melbourne registry of the Court, following almost three decades of providing strategic workplace relations and employment law advice. Before joining the Bar in 2003, Mr Forbes was a partner and board member at global law firm Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills). He holds an MBA and is particularly skilled at early-stage intervention and has presided over numerous disciplinary tribunals and incident investigations.

Catherine Symons has also been appointed to the Melbourne registry. Ms Symons was admitted to practice in April 2001 and signed the Bar Roll in May 2005. Her practice has primarily focused on employment, discrimination and administrative law, representing employers and employees in a range of industrial matters, appearing in most federal and state courts and tribunals. Ms Symons obtained a Masters of Law, specialising in workplace relations and is the Senior Vice President of the Industrial Bar Association. In 2008, she was awarded the Justice Pagone Prize for Tax Dispute and Written Advocacy, and was listed in the Labour and Employment Law category of Best Lawyers in Australia for 2017, 2018 and 2019. She has also been listed in Doyle’s Guide as Recommended for Employment Law Junior Counsel, Victoria 2021.

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