The Honourable Justice, QC
- Queensland, Australia
- Barrister, Commissioner, Judge, Lawyer, Queen's Counsel and Solicitor
Margaret Wilson was a trailblazing judge, particularly in the areas of mental health and civil procedure.
Although Margaret Wilson came from a non-legal family, she became a trailblazing judge, particularly in the areas of mental health and civil procedure. After graduating as school captain and dux, Margaret won an Open Scholarship to the University of Queensland. Having initially enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts, Margaret began studying law subjects in her third year at university and soon became absorbed by them. She graduated with an LLB with Honours in 1976, having completed her Arts degree in 1973.
After completing her articles, Margaret practised as a solicitor for six months. However, she did not enjoy the environment of the commercial legal practice. She resigned, travelled to the United Kingdom on an extended holiday, and upon her return was admitted to the Queensland Bar, on 29 March 1979. Margaret had a successful career at the Bar, enjoying the individual pursuit of professionalism. She was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1992 and as a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland six years later.
In 2002, Margaret was appointed as the judge constituting the new Mental Health Court. The successor to the Mental Health Tribunal, the Court is the only one of its kind in Australia, if not the world. Consisting of a Supreme Court judge and two government-appointed assisting psychiatrists, the court determines whether individuals who have been accused of criminal offences were of unsound mind at the time of the alleged offences and questions of fitness for trial. Margaret oversaw a number of procedural changes in the Mental Health Court to make it as accessible and efficient as possible and add transparency. From 2009 to 2011, Margaret was a Commercial List Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland. In 2011-2012, she sat as an Additional Judge of the Queensland Court of Appeal.
Margaret has been an active contributor to procedural reform. She was a member of the Civil Procedure Division of the Litigation Reform Commission from 1994 to 1996 and was a member of the Rules Committee for twelve years from 1999. The Committee's work included the introduction of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules and their constant refinement to make Court procedures more contemporary and user-friendly, and the formulation of the Civil Proceedings Act 2011. Margaret helped prepare booklets for jurors that explain the process of jury deliberation and also the counselling services now available to jurors.
Margaret was a committee member of the Bar Association of Queensland. Her work as the convenor of its Continuing Legal Education sub-committee was transposed into a commitment to ongoing judicial education. She has contributed to the organisation of the annual Supreme Court of Queensland Judges' Seminar over several years.
After leaving the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2014, Margaret was appointed as a Justice of Appeal of the Solomon Islands. In 2015-16 Margaret presided over a Commission of Inquiry into the closure of a residential mental health facility for adolescents with severe and complex mental illness
Sources used to compile this entry: Keenan, Sarah and Batch, Margaret Mary, 'Margaret Wilson', in Susan Purdon and Aladin Rahemtula (eds), A Woman's Place: 100 Years of Queensland Women Lawyers, Supreme Court of Queensland Library, Brisbane, 2005; Information provided via email by Margaret Wilson.
Prepared by Nicola Silbert
Created: 9 May 2016, Last modified: 9 August 2016