Frank Gavan Duffy

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The Right Honourable
Sir Frank Gavan Duffy
KCMG PC KC
Frank gavan duffy.jpg
Portrait of Gavan Duffy in the early 20th century.
4th Chief Justice of Australia
In office
22 January 1931 – 1 October 1935
Nominated by James Scullin
Appointed by Sir Isaac Isaacs
Preceded by Sir Isaac Isaacs
Succeeded by Sir John Latham
Justice of the High Court of Australia
In office
1 February 1913 – 22 January 1931
Nominated by Andrew Fisher
Appointed by The 3rd Baron Denman
Preceded by Richard O'Connor
Succeeded by none*
Personal details
Born (1852-02-29)29 February 1852
Dublin, Ireland
Died 29 July 1936(1936-07-29) (aged 84)
Nationality Irish
*Due to the Great Depression, no Justice was appointed to the Court upon the retirement of Isaacs and the promotion of Gavan Duffy.

Sir Frank Gavan Duffy, KCMG, PC, KC (29 February 1852 – 29 July 1936), Australian judge, was the fourth Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, sitting on the bench of the High Court from 1913 to 1935.

Early life[edit]

Duffy was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 29 February 1852, the son of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, who was later to become a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, and the eighth Premier of Victoria.

He travelled to Australia with his family in 1856, but later went to England to study at Stonyhurst College. In 1869 Duffy returned to Australia and attended the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1872 with a Bachelor of Arts.

At this time, he began to work in the public service, and started to study law.

Legal career[edit]

In 1874, Duffy was called to the Victorian Bar, and began practising as a barrister in 1875. Over the next few years, Duffy contributed to the second edition of Casey's Justices Manual, published in 1879, and in the same year founded the Australian Law Times. He edited this publication until 1883. Over the next twenty years, Duffy published many more works on various pieces of legislation.

Duffy was caught up in the financial crisis of 1893, but over time paid back his debts. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1900, and between 1902 and 1910 he lectured on contract law at the University of Melbourne. In 1907, Duffy became the editor of the Victorian Law Reports. By 1910, Duffy was widely regarded as the most prominent Victorian lawyer, and the unofficial leader of the Victorian Bar.

Judicial career[edit]

Duffy was appointed to the bench of the High Court of Australia in 1913. Seventeen years later, in 1931, when Sir Isaac Isaacs was made Governor-General, he took over as Chief Justice of the High Court. He retired from the bench in 1935 at age eighty-three. He had planned to deliver a series of lectures on Australian constitutional law at Harvard University's tercentenary early in 1936, but was too ill. He died after a brief illness on 29 July 1936. He was survived by his wife and three sons, among them Charles Leonard Gavan Duffy, later a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Honours[edit]

Duffy was created a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1929. Duffy had been made a member of the Imperial Privy Council in 1932.

Family[edit]

His half-brother, George Gavan Duffy (born 1882), was an Irish politician and later (from 1936) a judge of the Irish High Court, serving as its President from 1946 until his death in 1951.

References[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Isaac Isaacs
Chief Justice of Australia
1931-1935
Succeeded by
Sir John Latham