Ian Freckelton is an experienced King’s Counsel in full time practice as a barrister throughout Australia; a nationally accredited mediator; a former judge of the Supreme Court in Nauru; a board and committee member; an investigator of allegations of misconduct; a professor of law, psychiatry and forensic medicine; a fellow of learned academies; a journal editor; a speaker at international gatherings; an author, editor and book reviewer; and a scholarly traveller.

He has a particular expertise in the use of expert evidence in respect of technical areas of endeavour (medical, scientific, accounting and engineering) in litigation, and in health law generally.

Dr Freckelton’s practice as a King’s Counsel is based at Castan Chambers in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. He is briefed throughout Australia. He is a member of the Victorian, Northern Territory and Tasmanian Bar Associations and took silk in 2007.

In 2019 and 2020 he was rated by Doyle’s Guide as among Victoria’s Leading Senior Counsel in Criminal Law. In 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 he was rated by Best Lawyers in Australia in Public Law, Personal Injury Law and Commercial Law  and in 2021, 2022 and 2023 by Doyle’s Guide as a Leading Barrister in Australia in Administrative and Public Law.

Dr Freckelton has a busy mixed trial, appellate and advisory practice in administrative law, disciplinary law, personal injury law, human rights law, criminal law and commercial law. His advocacy style is contemporary, assertive, highly researched and strategically nuanced to the forum in which he appears. His focus is upon addressing the full picture of disputes which bring clients to him for legal advice, recognising that law and litigation are just a part of the overall fabric of relationships that can lead people and entities into conflict.

He has represented individuals and institutions in many significant and sensitive cases involving government instrumentalities. He has also appeared in many inquisitorial proceedings, including judicial inquiries/Royal Commissions and high profile coroners’ inquests. In addition, he has provided advice to persons and entities likely to be affected by parliamentary inquiries and investigations conducted by entities such as ASIC and anti-corruption bodies.

Dr Freckelton has a particular interest in integrity issues and accountability – in government, in institutions such as local councils, universities and corporations, in research and in the giving of expert evidence. He is an expert in research misconduct and its legal repercussions.

He has conducted inquiries into allegations/concerns about prominent figures and allegations of impropriety in relation to sensitive matters. Between 2017 and 2019 he was briefed to conduct an investigation into concerns about sexually inappropriate conduct on the part of the Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle and in 2021 he conducted an inquiry into Victoria’s regulator of gambling. Between 2020 and 2021 he was Chair of the Counsel Committee of the Victorian Bar.

In over three decades at the Bar, Dr Freckelton QC has appeared in leading cases across a wide range of legal areas in all States and Territories in Australia. He has also undertaken advisory work for cases in New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

Between 2017 and 2023 Dr Freckelton was a part-time judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Nauru, principally dealing with judicial reviews and appeals.

Dr Freckelton has also been appointed to a number of tribunals on a part-time basis, including:

  • the Social Security Appeals Tribunal;
  • the Mental Health Tribunal of Victoria (formerly the Mental Health Review Board);\
  • the Psychosurgery Review Board of Victoria;
  • the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria;
  • the Psychologists Registration Board of Victoria;
  • the Disciplinary Appeals Board of Victoria;
  • the Investigation Review Panel;
  • the Suitability Panel of Victoria, and
  • the Northern Suburbs Football Disciplinary Tribunal.

He has fulfilled functions on a pro tem basis for Tasmania’s Psychologists Registration Tribunal and in the university disciplinary context.

Dr Freckelton holds qualifications from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. He has a “higher doctorate”, an LLD (Doctor of Laws) in Health Law from the University of Melbourne (2017), and a doctorate, a PhD in Expert Evidence, from Griffith University (1998). His Bachelor’s degrees were from the University of Sydney – in Arts (majoring in English (with Honours), Latin and Greek) and in Law.

He is also:

  • a Professor of Law and Professorial Fellow in Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, where he is the Co-Director of the Masters of Health Law programme, currently teaching courses on Health Law and Human Rights, Mental Health Law, Pandemic Law and Practice, and Regulation of Health Practitioners;
  • an Adjunct Professor of Forensic Medicine at Monash University;
  • an Adjunct Professor in Research Integrity at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, teaching a course on Research Integrity;
  • an Adjunct Professor in the Australian Centre for Health Law Research in the Law Faculty of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT);
  • an Adjunct Professor of Law at Griffith University;
  • an Adjunct Professor of Law at La Trobe University; and
  • an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in New Zealand.

He fulfils such functions outside court hours. He has also been a Deputy Director of Monash University’s Centre for the Advancement of Law and Mental Health (CALMH) and Vice-President of Monash’s International Institute of Forensic Studies (IIFS).

Dr Freckelton has held honorary or adjunct positions as a Professor of Law at Sydney, Macquarie, Deakin and La Trobe Universities. Between 2008 and 2013 he was a Professor of Law, Forensic Medicine and Forensic Psychology at Monash University. He has also held visiting positions at the University of Melbourne in the Criminology Department and also at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand, and the University of Iceland. He has received a variety of research grants, as well as awards in relation to his research.

Dr Freckelton is an inaugural member (since 2010) of Victoria’s Coronial Council and is a member of the Asia-Pacific Coroners Society and the Coroners’ Society of England and Wales. He has also been a member of the Netherlands Centre of Forensic Expertise, Bond University’s Centre for Law, Government and Public Policy, and of the Therapeutic Jurisprudence Society Global Advisory Council and been the Vice-President of the Australasian Chapter of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health. He was a Board member of La Trobe University’s Centre of Public Health Law and Bond University’s Centre for Forensic Excellence. He is a former transnational President (1991-1997) and Victorian President (2006-2009) of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law and in 1997 was elected to honorary life membership.

On two occasions he was Vice-President of Victoria’s Council for Civil Liberties, now known as Liberty Victoria. He was the Chief Examiner for the Law Institute of Victoria‘s assessment for specialisation of criminal law solicitors for the decade between 2007 and 2017. He has been the representative of the Criminal Bar Association of Victoria to the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is  a member of the advisory board to Flinders University’s Centre for Crime, Policy and Research and has been a member of a working group of the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer of the Cancer Council Victoria.

Dr Freckelton is the founding Editor of the Journal of Law and Medicine (1993- ) (Thomson Reuters), which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023, and the Founding Editor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law (1994- ) (Taylor & Francis), which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2024. He remains its Editor-at-Large. He is a member of the editorial boards for the Tort Law Review, the New Zealand Journal of Family Law; the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly; Ethics, Medicine and Public Health; Forensic Sciences, and the Australasian Journal of Forensic Sciences.

He is the author of over 750 articles and chapters of books, and more than 270 book reviews, as well as the author and editor of over 50 books on evidence law, health law, mental health law, public health law, including pandemic law, compensation law, coronial law, disciplinary law, causation, therapeutic jurisprudence, criminal law, sentencing, policing, and scholarly misconduct. He has also co-edited a volume of essays about the former High Court judge, Michael Kirby, Appealing to the Future (Thomson/Reuters, 2009).

Dr Freckelton’s most recent books are:  Expert Evidence: Law, Practice, Procedure and Advocacy (7th edn, Thomson Reuters, 2024) and COVID-19: Law and Regulation: Right, Freedoms and Obligations in a Pandemic (with Bennett and Wolf, OUP, 2023); Australian Public Health Law  (with Bennett, Federation Press, 2023); Pandemics, Public Health Emergencies and Government Powers: Perspectives on Australian Law (Federation Press, 2021, with Bennett); Forensic Analysis (Intech Open, 2021); Indictable Offences in Victoria (Thomson Reuters, 2020, 7th edn, with Cockroft); Tensions and Traumas in Health Law (Federation Press, 2017, with Petersen); Scholarly Misconduct (Oxford University Press, 2016), and Expert Evidence and Criminal Jury Trials (Oxford University Press, 2016, with Delahunty, Horan and McKimmie). He  is finalising  a new edition of Death Investigation and Coroners’ Inquests (with Ranson) and working on a book on Automatism  (with Mackay, Brookbanks, Groning and Morse)

Dr Freckelton has held many appointments as a consultant. He was a member of the Expert Advisory Panel for Mental Health Act Reform in Victoria, and a consultant to the Victorian Law Reform Commission on its references on Guardianship and Administration, Bail, and Sexual Offences and Mental Impairment. He was also an invited consultant to the Victorian Office of Police Integrity in its work of Deaths Associated with Police Contact, and Chair of the Inter-Professional Advisory Team for the Australian Institute of Radiography which assessed the feasibility of advanced practice for radiographers and radiation therapists.

Dr Freckelton is:

  • an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (FAHMS):
  • an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law (FAAL);
  • an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences (FASSA); and
  • an Honorary Fellow of the Australasian College of Forensic Medicine (FACLM (Hon)).

Since 2012 he has been an Ambassador for Club Melbourne, a body which facilitates the procurement of international scholarly gatherings for Victoria. Dr Freckelton is also a member of the Education Committee of the World Association of Medical Law (WAML) and a member of the Research Committee of Rewire, a not-for-profit organisation set up to further research in music therapy and neuroscience to enable people, especially those with brain injuries, to live more fulfilling lives

In 2015 Dr Freckelton was appointed by the Victorian government as a Special Commissioner at the Victorian Law Reform Commission to lead its reference on the Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: http://www.lawreform.vic.gov.au/all-projects/medicinal-cannabis, which resulted in the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (Vic). In 2017 he was appointed by the Federal Minister for Health to be an inaugural Member of the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis. In 2019 he was re-appointed. Since 2021 he has been a member of the National Youth Justice Taskforce and a member of the advisory board to Mind Medicine Australia.

In 2019 Dr Freckelton was painted for an entry for the Archibald Prize by the well-known Melbourne and Surf Coast artist, Meredith Thomas.

Dr Freckelton has also given over 800 addresses, workshops and symposia in some 40 countries, including for many different professionals, including medical practitioners, psychologists, accountants, engineers and occupational health and safety experts. He has been an instructor for the Victorian Bar Readers Course.

Dr Freckelton is a winner of both the Victorian Bar Public Interest / Justice Innovation Pro Bono Award and the Tim McCoy Award for work (with others) on the “Children in Barwon Prison” case. In 2019 he was recognised with the Outstanding Alumnus Award (Academic Group) from Griffith University where, 20 years before, he had been awarded a PhD.

Between 2010 and 2013 Dr Freckelton was Chair of the Howells List (including the Laurence/Roberts Lists) at the Victorian Bar which then numbered approximately 180 barristers. In 2018 he moved to Foley’s List.

Dr Freckelton was elected as a member of the Victorian Bar Council, the governing body of the Victorian Bar, for five years between 2016 and 2021. He has also served on a variety of Bar Committees, including the Ethics Committee (2016 -2019), the Health and Wellbeing Committee, the Continuing Professional Development Committee, the Audit and Finance Committee (2018-2021), the Pro Bono Committee (2019-2020), the Counsel Committee (Chair: 2020-2021) and the Human Rights Committee. He has represented the Bar on the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences, the Supreme Court Library Committee and the Law Library of Victoria Committee.

In 2021 Dr Freckelton was appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia for “distinguished service to the law, and to the legal profession, across fields including health, medicine and technology.”

For an interview with Dr Freckelton see: