Obituary - John Philbrick QC


Bar Roll No: 1138

It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death of John Denis Philbrick QC, known to his friends and colleagues as “Fearless”. John passed away on Friday 23 August 2019, aged 71.

While a student, John was a resident of Ormond College. He graduated from the University of Melbourne with an LLB cum laude in 1971, where he also won the title of “Mr University”. He was admitted to practise in 1972 and worked as a solicitor before coming to the Bar in 1975, where he read with the late David Willshire. 

John developed a substantial and successful common law practice specialising in personal injuries cases. He took silk in 2007. Between 2010-12 John took leave before returning to the Bar, where he practised until 2016.

To the many young barristers and solicitors John mentored unofficially, he epitomised what a barrister should be. He was meticulous in his preparation of cases and demonstrated outstanding skills in court. His intellect, legal ability, flair for language and innate sense of fairness shone through, especially when addressing juries. He had a word-perfect memory for the evidence, which was known to be intimidating to opponents who did not share his perfect recall.

John was a keen outdoorsman, with passions ranging from skiing, football and fly fishing (the Philbrick nymph is a fly named after him). The focus for many of these pursuits was time well-spent with friends. This extended to his social life in law, with many colleagues noting John’s sense of humour and status as one of “the big characters of the Bar”. He is remembered as a formidable advocate, a world-renowned fly fisherman and a very funny man.

The Bar extends deepest sympathies to John’s wife Jean Dunn, his children Andre and Penny and their mother Christine, and to his friends and colleagues.

Details of a memorial service will be advised when they become known.

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