The man who previously headed the Department of Justice's prosecutions division has been appointed a Court of First Instance judge. The judiciary yesterday announced the appointment of Ian McWalters SC, previously director of public prosecutions. His appointment takes effect today. McWalters, 59, was a Crown counsel, then a principal government counsel before he became director of public prosecutions in 2009. 'As Mr McWalters was the director of public prosecutions in the Department of Justice, he will not, for six months after joining the judiciary, deal with any criminal trials or appeals or any civil cases involving the government,' the judiciary said. Others have in the past made the switch from prosecutions to the judiciary. Vice-president of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Frank Stock, for example, was a Crown counsel with the Attorney General's Chambers, and solicitor general, prior to being appointed to the judiciary. Lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee noted that in the past there had been a transition period for those who made the jump, during which they avoided certain cases. 'Maybe in McWalters' case, the number of cases to avoid would be greater, but the same principle would apply.' His appointment comes after the Department of Justice last month named Kevin Zervos, the former deputy director of public prosecutions, as acting director. Born in Australia, McWalters obtained his law degree from the University of Sydney before being admitted as a solicitor and barrister. In 2002, he was called to the bar in Hong Kong. He joined the Legal Department as Crown counsel in 1985 before rising through the ranks to become senior Crown counsel, deputy principal Crown counsel, and principal government counsel. McWalters took over as director of public prosecutions after his predecessor, Grenville Cross, left after 12 years in the position. His appointment to the judiciary was made by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on the recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission, the judiciary said.