Vale the Honourable Stuart Fowler AM - Wolters Kluwer CCH
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Family Law

Vale the Honourable Stuart Fowler AM

The Honourable Stuart Fowler AM, former Judge of the Family Court of Australia and Wolters Kluwer CCH ‘Australian Family Law & Practice’ Original Author

The Honourable Stuart Fowler AM, former Judge of the Family Court of Australia and original author of Wolters Kluwer CCH’s Australian Family Law & Practice, has passed away.

The Honourable Stuart Fowler co-wrote CCH’s Australian Family Law & Practice with Mr Malcolm Broun OAM QC in 1975 at the commencement of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). His Honour had an exemplary career in law, he served as Law Council President during 1994-95 and was one of the founding executive members of the Family Law Section. His Honour was co-chair of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, and through this work and his services to the law in Australia and overseas he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2005. In 2007, his Honour was appointed as a judge of the Family Court of Australia.

In 2010, on the 35th anniversary of CCH’s Australian Family Law & Practice, his Honour penned his thoughts which we re-publish today in his honour:

“When the Family Law Bill was before parliament, I was one of those solicitors who practised almost solely in that jurisdiction. We had had for many years a reference work in relation to the Matrimonial Causes Act which was in bound form and while an important and helpful work, did not permit of the dissemination easily of changes to the law and practice which occurred from time to time and for which one had to be dependent on other sources.

One of my partners at that time was the husband of Judy Sperling who then was an editor of CCH and later became its manager. I spoke with her about the forthcoming legislation and she invited me to contribute to the wider knowledge of the community about it with a publication ‘Marriage, Divorce and the Family: New Rules for Australians’.

That task then having been completed, I approached her to discuss with Richard Honour, the then manager of CCH, the possibility of the publication of a practice in the CCH format which would afford the profession the opportunity of keeping up-to-date with but one source. Judy came back to me and informed me that CCH had decided to publish a practice along the lines proposed. They asked me how many of the publications might be sold and I recall venturing that it would be at least in the order of one thousand. This figure has been, and continues to be, exceeded by a large margin which includes, as I understand it, significant overseas sales.

Judy and I discussed the authorship of the work. Fortunately, I had formed a friendship with Malcolm Broun OAM QC as he now is. Malcolm was the acknowledged leader of the Bar in New South Wales in Family Law and was a man with a great intellect and a love of the subject and a particular affection for the private international law issues involved in the practice of family law. He had written the historical foreword to the prior publication titled ‘Matrimonial Causes Practice’ published in relation to the ‘Barwick’ Act of 1961 and was highly thought of. I suggested to Judy that we approach him to become the lead founding author of the work. I knew that Malcolm would like to have a part not only in the reportage of the developments of the law but also be able to make suggestions as to how the undeveloped jurisprudence in relation to the new Act might be shaped. While there was some discussion with the editor on how such suggestions might be dealt with, an agreement was concluded that the initials of the author might be added to any such suggestion so that CCH would be happy that it was not representing how the law should develop. The early editions of this work are replete with such additions.

My own role was more modest but enjoyable and enabled me to develop my understanding of the law. I kept the practice beside me as a solicitor and frequently refer to it in my new role.

The work which was produced, and which has now developed so dramatically, is one with which I am proud to have been associated. I thank all those involved at the time particularly Richard Honour and Judy Sperling who offered me the opportunity to be involved and then, as now, I delight in the fact that Malcolm Broun, now retired with distinction from the profession who was so much admired, was offered the opportunity to share his insight and intellect with the profession.

CCH Australian Family Law and Practice is a tool of great assistance to academics, the profession and the judiciary. It is my hope and expectation that it will continue to provide that assistance at the same high level for many years to come and I wish it a very happy birthday and many more of them.”

Source: Vale the Hon Justice Stuart Fowler AM, Law Council of Australia, [media release], 11 September 2020.