William Forster Chambers
A Brief History
Mallam Chambers – 1974 to 1980
1974 Michael Maurice and Tom Pauling joined forces and set up as independent barristers on the third floor of Mallam Chambers in Mitchell Street, above and adjacent to premises then occupied by Ward Keller, solicitors. They called themselves “Counsel’s Chambers”.
1975 Ian Barker QC joined Maurice and Pauling shortly after Cyclone Tracey. Paul Rosser joined chambers in 1976. Barker left chambers to become Solicitor- General in July 1977. Pauling also left in 1977, to take up position as an Acting Magistrate.
1978 Barker, Pauling and Rosser having left chambers, Maurice was on his own and invited Graham Hiley and John Harrison to join him at Mallam Chambers.
99 Mitchell Street – 1980 to 1983
1980 Chambers moved to a 4 bedroom house in 99 Mitchell Street (behind the old Travelodge) owned by Paul Everingham. Everingham had operated his solicitor’s practice there before becoming the Territory’s first Chief Minister. Ian Barker returned to chambers for a short while, and other new members included Peter Bracher, Trevor Dorsman, Geoff Eames, Brian Johns and David Parsons.
Ellen Silvester was chambers clerk for most of chambers time there. As she owned a gold Mercedes Benz one of her tasks was to drive barristers to court.
Beagle House – 1983 to 1989
1983 The increase in numbers resulted in another move of chambers – to the 2nd floor of Beagle House – near the corner of Mitchell Street and Knuckey Street. The “starters” in Beagle House were Michael Maurice, Graham Hiley, Peter Bracher, Tom Pauling, Trevor Dorsman, Brian Johns, Dean Mildren and Peter Tiffin. Mildren had set up on his own some years before this.
These premises were larger and provided space for a larger library. By this time the library collection consisted of the pooled material owned by individual barristers and other books, such as the Authorised Reports, that had been purchased by Chambers. The collection included a full set of NT Legislation provided by Ian Barker QC, CLRs, ALRs, The Australian Digest and All ER’s owned by Michael Maurice (later purchased by Chambers when Maurice left to become a Land Commissioner and Judge), the English and Empire Digest and some VLRs and several Services. A set of Commonwealth Legislation and an almost complete set of SA Reports were given on ‘permanent loan” by Supreme Court Library. Textbooks were also pooled.
Lorraine Martin was engaged as chambers’ librarian primarily to maintain the NT Legislation and keep the library current and organised. For many years, the chambers library was one of the best in the NT.
Two large tables were commissioned and installed. They have since been subject of considerable wear and tear including for dinner and other functions.
1987 The name Counsel’s Chambers had often caused confusion – chambers mail was sometimes erroneously delivered to the municipal Council Chambers – and members of the public sometimes attended chambers to pay their rates and parking fines. Following the retirement of Sir William Forster it was decided to rename chambers “William Forster Chambers”. Chambers were officially named on 30 October 1987 and opened as such by Sir William Forster. Counsel’s Chambers (NT) Pty Ltd, which was incorporated in August 1987, remains the formal holder of the business name and other property.
Chambers’ first Clerk as such was Maureen Butt. As well as doing a sterling job as a clerk Maureen was instrumental in suggesting to the membership they might employ a handicapped person as chambers rounds clerk. This resulted in the engagement of Graham Paine, who is still with us in chambers.
Qantas Building – 1989 to 2005
1989 Membership continued to grow – so once again larger premises were sought. There was some discussion about splitting chambers into two groups but the members preferred to remain together. This time the move was to the Qantas building, 16 Bennett Street, where the whole of the second floor was occupied and four rooms on the third floor. Over the years the membership shrank back so that only the second floor premises were retained then grew once more to reoccupy the four rooms on the third floor.
Harry Chan Avenue – 2005 to present
2005 New premises were once again sought and a move made to levels one and two of a lovely purpose built premises at 26 Harry Chan Avenue, which overlook the harbour.
Membership at that time was 15 and comprised: David Alderman, Ned Aughterson, Peter Barr QC, Richard Bruxner, Geoff Clift, Sally Gearin, Michael Grant, Judith Kelly, Ian Morris, Colin McDonald QC, Ben O’Loughlin, John Reeves QC, Lex Silvester, Raelene Webb QC and Tony Young.
HEADS OF WFC
1974-1982: Michael Maurice QC
1982-1988: Dean Mildren QC
1988-1991: Graham Hiley QC
1991-1996: Trevor Riley QC
1996-2007: John Reeves QC
2008: Alistair Wyvill SC
PRESIDENTS OF THE NTBA
(Whom to date have all been members of WFC)
1980-1981: Michael Maurice QC
1981-1987: Tom Pauling QC
1987-1991: Dean Mildren QC
1991-1993: Graham Hiley QC
1993-1997: Trevor Riley QC
1997-2000: Colin McDonald QC
2000-2005: John Reeves QC
2005-2007: Jon Tippett QC
2007-2009: Peter Barr QC
2009-2012: Raelene Webb QC
2012-2014: John Lawrence SC
2014-2016: Ben O’Loughlin
2017: Wade Roper