Patrick Keane

Patrick Anthony Keane AC (born 26 October 1952) is a Justice of the High Court of Australia and a former Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia.

Patrick Keane

Justice of the High Court of Australia
Assumed office
1 March 2013
Nominated byJulia Gillard
Appointed byQuentin Bryce
Preceded byDyson Heydon
Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia
In office
22 March 2010 – 28 February 2013
Preceded byMichael Black
Succeeded byJames Allsop
Solicitor-General of Queensland
In office
13 December 1992 – 17 February 2005
Preceded byGeoffrey Davies QC
Succeeded byWalter Sofronoff QC
Personal details
Born (1952-10-26) 26 October 1952 (age 67)
Brisbane, Queensland
Spouse(s)Shelley Keane
Alma materUniversity of Queensland;
University of Oxford
OccupationBarrister; Judge

Early life and educationEdit

Patrick Anthony Keane was born to Patrick and Margaret Keane in a family of Irish descent[1] and raised in Wilston, a middle-class, inner-city suburb in northern Brisbane, Queensland. Patrick Keane senior was an RAAF aviator who died from a heart attack when the younger Patrick was seven.[citation needed]

Keane was educated at Catholic schools: St. Columba's Convent School and St. Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace in Brisbane,[2] where he was the school captain and dux of 1969, winning an Open Scholarship in the Queensland Senior Public Examinations.[3] After eliminating other vocations, he graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts in 1973, and a Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours and a University Medal in 1976.[4]

During his studies, Keane worked as a law clerk at Roberts & Kane Solicitors and was headhunted by Feez Ruthning (now Allens Linklaters) by one of the partners.[5]

Keane read for a Bachelor of Civil Law at Magdalen College of the University of Oxford and was awarded the Vinerian Scholarship, a scholarship given to the student that "gives the best performance in the examination for the Degree of Bachelor of Civil Law".[2] Having earned a B.C.L. with First-Class Honours in 1977, he then returned to Australia.


Pre-judicial careerEdit

Keane was admitted as a Solicitor and Barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1976 and went to the bar, as a Barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland, in 1977.[6] During 1978–1979, he was a part-time lecturer at the University of Queensland.[6]

In 1988, after 11 years at the bar, Keane took silk.[6]

In 1992, Keane was appointed Solicitor-General of Queensland, a position he held under Labor and Coalition state governments until his appointment to the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Queensland.[6][7]

Keane published a number of articles and has been outspoken on the quality of legislative drafting. During 1990–1992, he was the Deputy Chairman of the Queensland Law Reform Commission.[8] In 2011, he condemned the "volume and complexity of federal laws", telling the Australian Financial Review that "opening the tax act is like entering the door to a parallel universe".[9]

Judicial careerEdit

In 2005, Keane was appointed a Judge of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Queensland, the highest court in that state.[10]

On 10 February 2010, Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland announced that Keane would be appointed as the next Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia.[11] Keane took up that role on 22 March 2010.[12]

On 8 June 2015, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the law and to the judiciary, through contributions to improved legal and public administration, as an advocate for increased access to justice, to ethical standards, and to a range of professional organisations.[13]

High Court careerEdit

On 20 November 2012, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced that Keane had been appointed a Justice of the High Court of Australia effective on the retirement of Dyson Heydon on 1 March 2013.[14] Keane became the 50th Justice appointed to the High Court.[15] Keane's position as Chief Justice on the Federal Court bench was filled by James Allsop, the president of the NSW Court of Appeal.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1974, aged 22, Keane married Shelley, with whom he has three sons and five grandchildren. His wife, Dr. Shelley Keane, is a psychologist. His son Patrick was born in Oxford in December 1976. His son David is a barrister.

The Australian reported that Keane is said to have been close to former Prime Minister and fellow Queenslander Kevin Rudd and that Keane has been described by one unnamed Brisbane barrister as a "Labor man".[16] Keane's appointment met with bipartisan approval: the Liberal Party's justice spokesperson, Senator George Brandis, described Keane's appointment as "the right decision" and Keane himself as a "very, very distinguished lawyer, both academically and professionally" with "a very illustrious reputation".[16]

Keane is a supporter of the Brisbane Lions and the Carlton Blues AFL clubs[2] and enjoys cricket, even having once considered playing the sport professionally.[5]


  1. ^ "Dinner for Keane CJ". Hearsay, The journal of the Bar Association of Queensland. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Ceremonial - Welcome - Keane J" [2013] HCATrans 122 (10 May 2013).
  3. ^ Catanzariti, Joseph. "Ceremonial sitting of the High Court of Australia, Swearing-in of the Honourable Patrick Keane as Justice of the High Court". Law Council of Australia. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Keane, Chief Justice Patrick --- "Transcript of swearing in and welcome ceremony". [2010] Federal Judicial Scholarship 9. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  5. ^ a b Battersby, Lucy (16 February 2013). "Man of choice words and keen judgments". The Age. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d The Honourable Justice Patrick A Keane – Supreme Court of Queensland Library
  7. ^ Byrne, Elizabeth (5 March 2013). "Justice Keane completes the new-look High Court". ABC News. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  8. ^ "Patrick Keane Appointed to the High Court".
  9. ^ Berg, Chris (25 January 2011). "Micromanagement in the regulatory state". ABC News.
  10. ^ Supreme Court of Queensland (2009) Pat Keane. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Queensland judge Pat Keane named new Federal Court chief justice". The Australian. 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  12. ^ Federal Court of Australia (2010). The Hon Patrick Anthony KEANE. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  13. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours 2015: full list". Sydney Morning Herald. 8 June 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  14. ^ "Roxon reveals new High Court judge". ABC News. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  15. ^ Byrne, Elizabeth (5 March 2013). "Justice Keane completes the new-look High Court". ABC News.
  16. ^ a b c Merritt, Chris; Kelly, Joe (21 November 2012). "Cautious Pat Keane will 'fit right in' at High Court". The Australian. Retrieved 31 May 2013.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Michael Black
Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia
Succeeded by
James Allsop
Preceded by
Dyson Heydon
Justice of the High Court of Australia