Our Chairperson

In January 2024 the Chair of the VLRC, the Hon. Tony North KC, was appointed a Commissioner of Yoorrook Justice Commission, and is taking leave from the VLRC to fulfil that role.

The acting Chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission is the Hon. Jennifer Coate AO, who was appointed to this position on 30 January 2024. She has held a number of judicial appointments including Magistrate, Deputy Chief Magistrate, the inaugural President of the Children’s Court of Victoria, Judge of the County Court of Victoria, and the first female State Coroner of Victoria. In January 2013, Justice Coate was appointed a judge of the Family Court of Australia and thereafter released onto the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, where she served as one of six Commissioners for the five years of that Royal Commission. Ms Coate has previously held positions as a part-time Victorian Law Reform Commissioner, a solicitor in private practice, a solicitor for the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria and a legal policy officer in the Attorney-General’s office of the Victorian Government. In October 2014, she was appointed as a Fellow of Monash University. In January 2019, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. In April 2020, she was appointed as the Chair of the Victorian Victims of Crime Consultative Committee. In 2020, Ms Coate conducted an Inquiry into Hotel Quarantine in Victoria. She was appointed to the Victorian Law Reform Commission in June 2020 and reappointed for four years in July 2022. She was admitted as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in May 2022, and was awarded Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by Monash University in September 2023. Ms Coate will serve as acting Chair of the VLRC while the Hon. Tony North KC is serving as a Commissioner of Yoorrook Justice Commission.

The Chairperson of the VLRC is the Hon. Tony North KC. Mr North is a former judge of the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. Admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1976, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1989. In 1995, Mr North was made judge of the Federal Court of Australia, where he served until his retirement in 2018. He also served, from 2004, as additional judge of the Supreme Court of the ACT. During his time as judge, Mr North presided over cases involving constitutional and commercial law, industrial and employment law, taxation, intellectual property and native title. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws with Honours from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Laws from the University of London.

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Previous Chairpersons

Bruce Gardner PSM

Bruce Gardner PSM sat as Acting Chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission from March to August 2019. Until 2018, Mr Gardner was Senior Legal Advisor to the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions, with 36 years’ experience in the Crown Solicitor’s Office and the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) as a prosecution solicitor. He held a range of policy-related positions with the OPP, including Manager of Policy and Advice for 21 years, 14 of which he was also Manager of Appeals. Mr Gardner has served on numerous committees and working groups addressing criminal law reform issues. He was appointed Commissioner of the VLRC in April 2012 and, in June of the same year, was awarded an Australian Public Service Medal for outstanding public service to criminal law reform.