Vale – The Hon Barry Beach AM QC


Bar Roll No: 494

It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death last Friday of the Honourable Barry Beach AM QC at the age of 89 years.

Barry was born on 16 February 1931. He was educated at Geelong College on a scholarship, where he was an exceptional student. He went on to work as an articled clerk as an alternative to a university degree he could not afford.

Barry was admitted to practise law on 2 March 1953 and signed the Bar Roll three weeks later, reading with Lionel Revelman.

An ability to master complex material quickly and to communicate a concise, cogent summary became hallmarks of Barry’s practice at every stage of his career. He quickly developed a large jury and inquiry practice, including acting for the London engineers in the West Gate Bridge Inquiry. At the time he took silk at the age of only 37, Barry was the Bar’s pre-eminent jury advocate.

Barry mentored six readers—Jeremy Darvall, His Honour Barry Dove, His Honour John Dee, David Ross QC, The Hon David Ashley AM QC, and George McGrath QC.

Barry served on Bar Council from 1954-1960 and was the first secretary of Council’s Chambers Limited, which found chambers for 40 counsel. He was Chairman of the Council of Law reporting from 1984-1997.

In 1975, Barry was appointed chairman of a 15-month inquiry into complaints against members of the Victorian Police Force. The Beach Inquiry recommendations led to beneficial changes to police culture in Victoria.

Barry was appointed to the Supreme Court in July 1978, where he heard a mixture of civil and criminal cases before taking over the Practice Court in 1991. He retired from the Bench in 2003.

Barry was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2008 for service to the judiciary and the law, particularly in the areas of compulsory mediation in case management, to the development and improvement of legal practice in Victoria, and through professional organisations.

Deepest sympathies are extended to Barry’s family, especially his two sons Justice David Beach of the Supreme Court and Justice Jonathan Beach of the Federal Court, who are members of our Bar.