Obituary & Service - His Honour Judge Kevin Patrick O’Connor AM



It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death last Sunday 30 September 2018 of His Honour Judge Kevin Patrick O’Connor AM – an Acting Judge of the District Court of New South Wales and a Deputy President of the New South Wales Civil & Administrative Tribunal (“NCAT”). Kevin was 72 years of age (born 20 June 1946).

Kevin’s Requiem Mass is at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, Waverley, 45A Victoria Street, Waverley NSW on Thursday 11 October 2018 at 10.30 am.

Kevin was born in London. He was about 5 when his family settled in Australia. His secondary schooling was at “North” (St Joseph’s CBC North Melbourne). He graduated LL B (Hons) and  LL M from Melbourne; and LL M from the University of Illinois.

He served Articles at Stedman Cameron Meares & Hall; was admitted in Victoria in April 1969 and in NSW in June 1979. He signed the Bar Roll in November 1981 and read with Craig Porter.

He achieved tenure at the Melbourne Law School. He taught there 1970-81 (including the 1972-73 US academic year at the University of Illinois; and seconded to the Australian Law Reform Commission (“ALRC’) as a Principal Law Reform Officer 1976-79).

Kevin was the senior researcher in the ALRC Reference on Privacy. He described his three years at the ALRC under Michael Kirby (now retired High Court Justice and AC, CMG) as his “defining moment” – “I saw lawyers of eminence working together in interdisciplinary teams to shape laws in aid of positive social changes”.

Kevin was Director, Policy & Research in the Victorian Law Department under Attorney-General Jim Kennan, then Deputy Secretary, Policy 1986-88 – all in a time of reform.

He became the foundation Australian Privacy Commissioner and a Human Rights Commissioner 1989-96; Chairman of the NSW Commercial Tribunal 1997, later also of the Fair Trading Tribunal; and foundation President of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal 1998-2013; then a Deputy President of NCAT. From 1998, he was a NSW District Court Judge.

Beyond this, Kevin chaired the Board of the Sydney Public Interest Advocacy Centre 1997-98; was active in the formation of the COAT (Council of Australasian Tribunals) and was a Convenor and on the National Executive, in all 1999-2013. He was Deputy Chairperson of the Commission for the Control of Interpol Files 2005-11. He was a part-time NSW Law Reform Commissioner 2008-10, working on the Privacy and Family Violence References.

He was a Geelong Football Club tragic and would slip down to Melbourne to see them play. Irish to the core, he was a fine fiddler in the Celtic and Bluegrass traditions; and was fond of the track (both dogs and horses).

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