Dyson Heydon

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The Honourable Justice
John Dyson Heydon
Justice of the High Court of Australia
In office
1 February 2003 – 28 February 2013
Nominated by John Howard
Appointed by Peter Hollingworth
Preceded by Mary Gaudron
Succeeded by Patrick Keane
Personal details
Born (1943-03-01) 1 March 1943 (age 72)
Ottawa, Canada
Nationality Australian
Occupation Barrister, Judge

John Dyson Heydon AC QC (born 1 March 1943 in Ottawa, Canada) is a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy.

Early life and education[edit]

After matriculating from the Shore School, Heydon received a BA in History with the University Medal from the University of Sydney and an MA and BCL from University College, Oxford. He was a Rhodes Scholar, and was awarded the Vinerian Scholarship during his time at Oxford.[1] He was a Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, teaching public international law in the early 1970s.


Heydon was admitted to the New South Wales Bar Association in 1973. At age 30, Heydon became a Professor of Law at the University of Sydney, the youngest person to reach that position. He was elected Dean of the University of Sydney Law School 1978–1979. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1987.

Judicial career[edit]

Heydon was appointed as a Justice of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 2000.

He was appointed as a Justice of the High Court in February 2003.[2]

He is also a legal scholar. He joined Sir James Gobbo and David Byrne to co-author the second Australian edition of Cross on Evidence in 1980, and became sole author of subsequent editions. He has also written The Restraint of Trade Doctrine and has taken over his colleague Justice Gummow as one of the editors of Meagher, Gummow, and Lehane's Equity: Doctrines and Remedies.

As of August 2011, Heydon had increased his dissent rate to 47.6 per cent,[3] dissenting most notably in the Plaintiff M70/2011 v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (the Malaysian asylum seeker swap case) and Wainohu v New South Wales (the NSW "bikie laws" case).[4]

Post-judicial career[edit]

In February 2014, it was announced that Heydon will be the sole Royal Commissioner to lead the Australian Government Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption.[5]

Judicial philosophy[edit]

Heydon is known to be a conservative judge and has spoken out against judges who assume a law making role. His publicly expressed views, made while a New South Wales judge, were described by contemporaneous commentators as a "job application"[6] for appointment to the High Court by the government of Prime Minister John Howard.[2][7]


  1. ^ "NSW Rhodes Scholars 1904—2009". The University of Sydney. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Justice Heydon appointed to High Court" (transcript). AM (ABC Radio) (Australia). 18 December 2002. Retrieved 11 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "Justice Heydon triples his dissent rate for 2011". Timebase. Australia. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Jacobsen, Geesche (17 February 2012). "Judge set for Kirby mantle". The Age (Australia). Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Abbott, Tony; (Prime Minister); Brandis, George; (Attorney-General); Abetz, Eric; (Minister for Employment) (10 February 2014). "Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption" (Press release). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "The dicing of Heydon's job application". Justinian. 16 February 2004. Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Heydon, Justice Dyson (7 April 2003). "How judicial activism results in the death of the rule of law in Australia". Online Opinion. Retrieved 11 February 2010.