Two new judges appointed to Queensland’s Supreme Court

Published Friday, 03 September, 2021 at 02:11 PM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

Two Queen’s Counsel with more than 50 years’ combined legal experience are set to join the Bench of Queensland’s Supreme Court.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman today announced the appointment of senior barristers Declan Kelly QC and Kerri Mellifont QC to the court’s Trial Division.

“Justice Kelly and Justice Mellifont have each gained broad legal expertise in the decades since their respective admissions as barristers, and are highly respected among their peers,” Minister Fentiman said.

“The breadth of the knowledge and experience they have gained from handling high-profile and complex matters in various jurisdictions make them valuable assets to the Supreme Court in helping deliver justice for Queenslanders.”

Minister Fentiman said Justice Kelly commenced his extensive legal career in 1991 as a law clerk at Feez Ruthning Solicitors.

“Justice Kelly was called to the Bar in 1993, commenced practice as a barrister in 1994 and was appointed as Senior Counsel in November 2007,” Minister Fentiman said.

“In his commercial practice, His Honour has gained experience in a wide range of legal practice, including the fields of commercial, equity, trade practices, building and construction, and banking and finance.

“He has appeared in both State and Federal jurisdictions and also in commercial arbitrations.

“Justice Kelly has displayed a strong appetite for appellate matters, highlighting the breadth of his experience in the superior courts at State and Federal levels.

“He has experience in commissions of inquiry, having represented clients at the Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry and the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

“His Honour’s extensive skills and knowledge in commercial litigation and dispute resolution was recognised by being named one of Queensland leading silks by Doyle’s Guide in 2021.

Justice Mellifont was admitted to the Bar in 1994 and was made Senior Counsel (now Queen’s Counsel) in 2010.

“Her Honour commenced at the private bar in 2001, having previously worked at the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Public Defender’s Office at Legal Aid Queensland for a total of 11 years,” Minister Fentiman said.

“During this time, she has practised in civil, administrative, criminal and regulatory litigation, appearing in both State and Federal jurisdictions, and was named the Women’s Legal Association of Queensland’s Woman Lawyer of the Year in 2017.

“In her practice, she has also represented clients in inquests, judicial review, professional disciplinary proceedings, workplace health and safety, and environmental matters. She is also a qualified mediator.

“Her Honour has held senior roles with commissions of inquiry, most recently the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, and assisted the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry in 2011 and the Forde Inquiry into Child Abuse in 1998-99,

“Justice Mellifont holds a doctorate from the Queensland University of Technology in the topic of illegally and improperly obtained evidence and is a published author on that topic.

“She has also helped educate the next generation of legal practitioners, including First Nations students, teaching at the Queensland University of Technology and presenting at legal profession courses and seminars.”

“Justice Kelly and Justice Mellifont are eminent Queen’s Counsel, highly deserving of their new roles and will be great assets to the Supreme Court. I congratulate them on their appointment to the Bench.”

The appointees were shortlisted by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Panel. Justice Kelly will commence on 6 September 2021 and Justice Mellifont will commence on 4 October 2021.

Judicial appointments in Queensland are made in accordance with the Protocol for Judicial Appointments, a protocol delivered by the Palaszczuk Government in 2016 to ensure integrity, accountability and transparency in Queensland’s judicial appointments.

Further information about the protocol can be found at:


Media (FENTIMAN) - Penni Pappas 0438 747 540