Anthony Mason (judge)

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The Honourable
Sir Anthony Mason
9th Chief Justice of Australia
In office
6 February 1987 – 20 April 1995
Nominated by Bob Hawke
Appointed by Ninian Stephen
Preceded by Sir Harry Gibbs
Succeeded by Sir Gerard Brennan
Justice of the High Court of Australia
In office
7 August 1972 – 6 February 1987
Nominated by William McMahon
Preceded by Sir William Owen
Succeeded by Mary Gaudron
Personal details
Born (1925-04-21) 21 April 1925 (age 89)
Nationality Australian

Sir Anthony Frank Mason, AC, KBE, GBM, QC (born 21 April 1925), Australian judge and Royal Australian Air Force officer, was the ninth Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, sitting on the bench of the High Court from 1972 to 1995.


Raised in Sydney, Anthony Mason was a student at Sydney Grammar School, where his two sons and two grandsons also attended. During World War II, Sir Anthony Mason served in the Royal Australian Air Force, holding the rank of Flying Officer. After the war, he studied at the University of Sydney, graduating with the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws.

Legal career[edit]

Mason was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1951, and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1964. For five years, Mason lectured in law at the University of Sydney, his students including three future High Court Justices, Mary Gaudron, William Gummow and Dyson Heydon. Mason was the Commonwealth Solicitor-General from 1964 to 1969. During this time, he contributed greatly to the development of the Commonwealth's administrative law system.

Judicial career[edit]

In 1969, Mason was made a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, where he sat as a member of the Court of Appeal. He held this position until 1972, when he was appointed to the bench of the High Court of Australia. After fifteen years on the bench, and following the retirement of Sir Harry Gibbs, Mason was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court in 1987. Mason retired from the Court in 1995. After his retirement from the High Court of Australia, Mason was appointed as one of the non-permanent Justices of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. He was also the President of the Court of Appeal of the Solomon Islands and was a judge on the Supreme Court of Fiji.[1]

Mason had a significant influence over the High Court. Initially a conservative judge, his tenure as Chief Justice can be seen as the high-water mark of the movement away from the "strict legalism" which characterised the High Court under Sir Owen Dixon. Mason was more flexible in his attitude to precedent than many other judges, viewing it more as a policy for consistency than something which would strictly coerce and constrain his decisions. During the years of the "Mason Court", there were a variety of important cases decided, including Mabo v Queensland (No.2) and Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth.

From 1994 to 1999 Mason served as the Chancellor of the University of New South Wales [1]. From 1996 to 1997, Mason was a Professor of legal science at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, United Kingdom. In 1997, Mason was made a non-permanent judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. He still currently holds that position. Mason is also a Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Law at the Australian National University.



  1. ^ Susan Boyd (2003), "Australian judges at work internationally", Australian Law Journal, vol. 77, p. 303 at 305.
  2. ^ It's an Honour: CBE
  3. ^ It's an Honour: KBE
  4. ^ It's an Honour: AC
  5. ^ It's an Honour: Centenary medal
  6. ^ Hong Kong 2013 Honours List

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Harry Gibbs
Chief Justice of Australia
Succeeded by
Gerard Brennan
Order of precedence
Michael Hartmann
Non-Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal
Hong Kong order of precedence
Non-Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal
Succeeded by
Lord Hoffmann
Non-Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal