A former Supreme Court Justice is remembered by the Justice Department for his tireless contributions to Queensland law, since emigrating from South Africa in the 1960s
Attorney-General and Justice Minister Jarrod Bleijie has paid tribute to one of Queensland’s most significant judicial figures who died recently.
Former Justice of the Supreme Court Bruce Harvey McPherson died on Monday, October 7 aged 77.
“Justice McPherson was arguably one of Queensland’s finest legal minds,” says Bleijie.
“He made an invaluable contribution to the law and the community as an academic, a practitioner and as a member of the judiciary.
“From the time he migrated from South Africa in 1960 to take up a position at the University of Queensland, His Honour served the people of Queensland with distinction.
“He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1982 and became an inaugural member of the Court of Appeal in 1991. He retired in 2006 after reaching the statutory retirement age.
“Justice McPherson was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1988 and also served as Senior Puisne Judge, Chairman of the Queensland Law Reform Commission and Chairman of the Judicial Conference of Australia at various times.
“He will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the law in this state.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Queensland, I extend my deepest sympathies to Justice McPherson’s wife and family.”
McPherson was born on September 23, 1936 at Melmoth, South Africa. The son of mechanical engineer William McPherson and his wife, Sybil Vipond (née Anderson), he attended Durban High School and the University of Natal, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1957.
McPherson then read law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where in 1959 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws.
He migrated to Queensland to take up a position as lecturer at the University of Queensland in 1960.
For his thesis on the law governing the liquidation of registered limited liability companies in Australia, UQ awarded him a Doctor of Philosophy in 1967.
The thesis developed into his first major work, The Law of Company Liquidation.
McPherson married Shirley Cowan in 1960.
They had one son and one daughter, and were later divorced.
On April 17, 1963 he was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland.
After commencing practice in 1965 he took silk on August 14, 1975.
While at the bar McPherson served as a member of the Queensland Law Reform Commission from 1969 to ‘82) and married Isobel Jacqueline Marie Milne during that time, in 1975. They had three sons.
On January 28, 1982 he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland and was the Commercial Causes judge from 1983 to 1985.
In 1988 he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
He became senior puisne judge of the court on September 13, 1990.
On December 16, 1991 he became one of the inaugural judges of appeal.
During his years on the court, McPherson also served as chairman of the Queensland Law Reform Commission (1982–91); chairman of the Supreme Court Library collection subcommittee (1981–2006); chairman of the trustees of the Peirson Memorial Home for Children (since 1988); and chairman of the Judicial Conference of Australia (1998–2000).
He also wrote The Supreme Court of Queensland 1859-1960: History, Jurisdiction, Procedure (1989) and was appointed international vice-president of the Selden Society in 2004.
He retired from the court at the age of 70 on September 23, 2006.
He since published The Reception of English Law Abroad (2007), has served on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (from 2007) and, in 2012, was appointed one of its deputy presidents.
McPherson also served on the Court of Appeal of the Solomon Islands and was also a member of the Fiji Court of Appeal.
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