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Former Justices

Apart from the current members of the Court, there have been 11 Chief Justices and 36 Justices since the Court was established in 1903. A biographical synopsis of each is given below.

(born 1935). A Justice 1989-2005.
Admitted to NSW Bar 1961 (QC 1973). Judge of Court of Appeal and Supreme Court NSW 1984-89. President NSW Bar Association 1981-83. President Australian Bar Association 1983-84.

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Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Australia, from The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia, by Tony Blackshield, Michael Coper and George Williams, 2001, © Oxford University Press, www.oup.com.au

(born 1937). A Justice 1998-2007.
Admitted Queensland Bar 1965 (QC 1978). President Queensland Bar Association 1984-87. President Australian Bar Association 1984-85.

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Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Australia, from The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia, by Tony Blackshield, Michael Coper and George Williams, 2001, © Oxford University Press, www.oup.com.au

(born 1939). A Justice 1996-2009.
Admitted New South Wales Bar 1967. Chairman Australian Law Reform Commission 1975-84. Deputy President Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission 1975-83. Judge Federal Court of Australia 1983-84. President New South Wales Court of Appeal 1984-96. President Solomon Islands Court of Appeal 1995-96. UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia 1993-96. President International Commission of Jurists 1995-98.

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Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Australia, from The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia, by Tony Blackshield, Michael Coper and George Williams (eds), 2001, © Oxford University Press, www.oup.com.au

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(born 9 October 1942)
William Montague Charles Gummow AC was appointed to the Court in April 1995. At the time he was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. He had held that office since 1986.

He graduated from the University of Sydney as a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Laws. After 10 years in practice as a solicitor, he was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1976. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1986. For 30 years he lectured part-time at the University of Sydney. He is the author and editor of several texts on equity and trusts. Justice Gummow AC was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 1997.

 

Justice Heydon

(born 1 March 1943)
John Dyson Heydon AC was appointed to the Court in February 2003, after having been a judge of the New South Wales Court of Appeal since 2000. He graduated in arts from the University of Sydney, and, as the Rhodes Scholar for New South Wales in 1964, graduated as Master of Arts and Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford University.

He was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1973 and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1987. At age 34, he was elected dean of the University of Sydney Law School for 1978–79. He practised at the Bar from 1979 until his appointment to the Court of Appeal. He has published a number of legal texts, including his first book, The Restraint of Trade Doctrine, in 1971. Justice Heydon AC was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2004.

Justice Crennan

Susan Maree Crennan AC was appointed to the Court in November 2005. At the time of her appointment she was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, having been appointed to that office in February 2004. She was educated at the University of Melbourne (BA and PostgradDipHist) and the University of Sydney (LLB).

Justice Crennan AC was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1979 and joined the Victorian Bar in 1980. She was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1989. Justice Crennan AC was President of the Australian Bar Association 1994–95, Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council in 1993–94, and a Commissioner for Human Rights in 1992. Justice Crennan AC was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2008.

Speeches by Justice Crennan AC

justice hayne

(born 5 June 1945)
Kenneth Madison Hayne AC was appointed to the Court in September 1997. At the time of his appointment he was a judge of the Victorian Court of Appeal, having been appointed one of the foundation judges of that Court in 1995. He graduated in arts and law from the University of Melbourne. He was Victoria’s Rhodes Scholar in 1969 and graduated as a Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford University.

He joined the Victorian Bar in 1971, and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1984. He practised in State and federal courts principally in commercial, constitutional and general civil matters. He was appointed a judge of the Victorian Supreme Court in 1992. Justice Hayne AC was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2002.

Justice NettleGeoffrey Arthur Akeroyd Nettle was appointed to the Court in February 2015. At the time of his appointment, he was a judge of the Victorian Court of Appeal, to which he was appointed in June 2004. Before that, he served as a judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria, to which he had been appointed in July 2002.

He graduated in economics from the Australian National University, in law from the University of Melbourne and as a Bachelor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford. He was admitted to practice in 1977 and joined the Victorian Bar in 1982. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1992. He practised in state and federal courts principally in commercial, equity, taxation and constitutional matters.


Speeches by Justice Nettle AC

Justice Bell

Virginia Bell was appointed to the Court in February 2009. At the time of her appointment she was a judge of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. She graduated from the University of Sydney as a Bachelor of Laws in 1977. After seven years as a solicitor with the Redfern Legal Centre, she was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1984 and was appointed a Senior Counsel in 1997. Justice Bell practised as a public defender between 1986 and 1989 before returning to the private Bar. Between 1994 and 1997 she was a counsel assisting the Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service. Justice Bell was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in March 1999. She served as president of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration 2006 to 2008.

Speeches by Justice Bell AC

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