Louis Andrews August 04, 2012
A veteran ACT barrister with three decades in law, Stuart Pilkinton, has been appointed silk.
Mr Pilkinton, newly-minted ''SC'', who practises mainly in common law, personal injury law and insurance has held leading roles in the territory's peak lawyers groups.
He has twice served as president of the ACT Bar Association, been a vice-president of both the bar and the ACT Law Society and sat on the Bar Council for more than a decade.
The ACT Bar Association this week announced Mr Pilkinton could now tack two extra letters to the end of his name.
But it's an appointment which may raise some eyebrows in legal circles.
Mr Pilkinton received a non-conviction order in the late 1990s for attempting to pervert the course of justice after representing a client in a drink-driving matter.
But Bar Association president Philip Walker said the ''overwhelming majority'' of legal figures consulted decided the matter shouldn't prevent the barrister taking silk.
Mr Pilkinton told The Canberra Times he was ''stunned'' by the news of his appointment, and described it as the highlight of his career.
''It is an honour, and it's quite daunting,'' he said.
''I mean it's a very strong peer process, I know that from my own time doing it, you consult a lot of people.
''I can only assume that I got the endorsement from my peers, so that's nice to know.''
The charge against Mr Pilkinton stemmed from 1989 when one of his clients gave police a false name, and continued using it during the hearing, while he was aware of her real name. Mr Pilkinton was convicted but acquitted on appeal, before prosecutors took the matter to the Federal Court.
The matter was sent back to the ACT Supreme Court, where Mr Pilkinton was given a non-conviction order but the offence was proven.
The new silk yesterday said he made full disclosures during the application process. Word of his brush with the law resurfaced this week when legal news website Justinian reported on the applications for senior counsel and Mr Pilkinton's case.
Mr Walker, assisted by local silks Ian Nash, SC, and Thomas Howe QC, picked Mr Pilkinton from a pool of six candidates.
Mr Walker said the panel consulted more than 30 judicial officers and senior barristers from the territory and interstate.
He said the issue which led to the non-conviction order involved ''a momentary error of judgment'' more than two decades ago, and Mr Pilkinton's record had since been ''absolutely unblemished''.
''In consulting with over 30 people it worried some people but the overwhelming majority - the overwhelming majority - said you are not forever banned by that,'' he said.