|Past Chairmen of Counsel's Chambers Limited
It is a significant achievement in itself that the company has managed not merely to meet the needs of its shareholders but also to do that to their general satisfaction. No doubt there has been the occasional shareholder complaint that the company's affairs could have been run better and more efficiently. But in all my fifty years personal experience of how the company has been run (forty of those years as a shareholder or occupier of one or other of the company's buildings), I have not discerned any general lack of confidence in the various boards who have administered its affairs.
There must be very few barristers now in practice who have any knowledge of the huge debt the Bar owes to the original Chairman of Directors, Garfield Barwick QC. A reading of the minutes of Board meetings between the date of the first meeting on 17 April 1953 and the opening of Wentworth Chambers four years later reveals the prodigious effort he put into turning his vision for the building into a reality. It was he (assisted principally by Kenneth Manning QC) who explored the possibility of obtaining finance to erect Wentworth Chambers and who negotiated the original building contract.
And it was he who, with a few other silks, personally underwrote the issue of shares to make up for the initial deficiency in applications for shares. He remained Chairman of the Board whilst he was Attorney-General of the Commonwealth and until his appointment as Chief Justice of Australia.
The company has come a long way since the decision was made on 16 May 1956 to give the name ‘Westminster Inn' to the building which we now know as Wentworth Chambers. The decision to rename the building was made after a poll was taken of the views of the shareholders.
The company has had its ups and downs over the past fifty years. Probably its greatest ‘down' was the financial collapse of John Grant & Co. Ltd., the company awarded the contract to erect Wentworth Chambers. At the time of the contractor's financial collapse that building was still in course of construction. But the company has survived its birth pains and over the succeeding years has been able to considerably expand the provision of chambers for barristers in Selborne Chambers, Windeyer Chambers and Frederick Jordan Chambers (now known as the National Dispute Centre).
There are no doubt challenges facing the current Board but if history is any guide they will be met and overcome.
I wish the company well.
Chairman of CCL
from 1974 to 1978
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