David Malcolm

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The Honourable
David Malcolm
Chief Justice
of Western Australia
In office
26 May 1988 – 1 May 2006
Preceded by Sir Francis Burt
Succeeded by Wayne Martin
of Western Australia
In office
26 February 1990 – 9 October 2009
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor Sir Francis Burt (1990–1993)
Michael Jeffery (1993–2000)
John Sanderson (2000–2005)
Ken Michael (2006–2009)
Preceded by Sir Francis Burt
Succeeded by Wayne Martin
Personal details
Born (1938-05-06)6 May 1938
Bunbury, Western Australia
Died 20 October 2014(2014-10-20) (aged 76)
Perth, Western Australia
Alma mater University of Western Australia
Wadham College, Oxford

David Kingsley Malcolm, AC, QC (6 May 1938 – 20 October 2014) was the Chief Justice of Western Australia from May 1988 until his retirement from the bench in February 2006.[1] He was also an expatriate justice of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

Born in Bunbury, Western Australia, Malcolm was educated at Guildford Grammar School in Perth and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1960. Malcolm was a graduate of the University of Western Australia.[2] He studied for his BCL at Wadham College, Oxford. Before serving as Chief Justice, Malcolm was a deputy counsel for the Asian Development Bank and one of Western Australia's most prominent Queen's Counsel. He regularly appeared before the Privy Council, and appeared as counsel on one of the last Australian appeals to the Privy Council before the Australia Act 1986 took effect. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the retirement of the widely respected Francis Burt. In 1990 he also became Lieutenant-Governor of the state.

Malcolm earned great respect during his time as Chief Justice, and received great acclaim from the legal profession on his retirement on 7 February 2006. However, during his final year on the bench he came under increasing pressure, by the media, for perceived failings on the bench after he aborted a murder trial.[3]

At his farewell, the Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, commented on the landmark judgement that Malcolm had handed down in the appeal of John Button, a high-profile case in which a manslaughter conviction was quashed over 30 years after the event. Wayne Martin replaced Malcolm as Chief Justice, and Malcolm later became Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle.

Malcolm died in Perth in October 2014, aged 76.[4]


  • Taylor, Alister (ed) (1997) The Australian roll of honour : national honours & awards 1975–1996 Sydney, N.S.W. : Roll of Honour Publications, ISBN 0-908578-57-1 – item on Malcolm's AC 1992 for service to the law and to the Crown.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Francis Burt
Chief Justice of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Wayne Martin


  1. ^ "Chief Justice to retire from Bench" (PDF). Supreme Court of Western Australia. 9 November 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Rosetto, Lee (December 1999). ""Interview with Chief Justice David Malcolm" [1999] MurUEJL 39". Austlii. Retrieved June 13, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Judge in charge of aborted trial not unwell". ABC News. 20 May 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  4. ^ "Former WA chief justice David Malcolm dies aged 76". ABC News. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2016.