Len Roberts-Smith

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Len Roberts-Smith
Birth name Leonard William Roberts-Smith
Born 1946
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army Reserve
Years of service 1964–2007
Rank Major General
Commands held Judge Advocate General
Awards Reserve Force Decoration
Relations Ben Roberts-Smith (son)
Other work Justice of the Supreme Court; Court of Appeal Judge

Leonard William Roberts-Smith, RFD, QC (born 1946) is a former Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, which is the highest ranking court in the Australian State of Western Australia (WA). From February 2005, he was one of the inaugural Judges of the Court of Appeal Division, having been first appointed to the Supreme Court on 6 November 2000. From May 2007 he served as Commissioner of the Corruption and Crime Commission of Western Australia, having been appointed for a five-year term.[1] He retired on 31 January 2011.

Early life and family[edit]

Roberts-Smith was educated at Saint Ignatius' College, Adelaide, and graduated in law from the University of Adelaide in 1969.

He and his wife Sue have two sons, Ben and Sam:

Legal career[edit]

After graduating, Len Roberts-Smith went to Papua New Guinea in 1970, where he held various positions in the Crown Law Department, ultimately becoming Chief Crown Prosecutor. On Independence in 1975, he became the first public prosecutor under the new Constitution. As public prosecutor, he had responsibility for all criminal prosecutions throughout the country. He returned to South Australia in 1976 and became a stipendiary magistrate. In 1978, he was appointed the foundation director of the Legal Aid Commission of Western Australia and held this position for 11 years. In February 1989, he returned to private practice, as a barrister, and in December 1989 was appointed a Queen's Counsel.

Roberts-Smith held numerous prominent community positions. He was a former chairman of the Citizens' Advice Bureau of WA (Inc), chairman of the State Advisory Panel for Translators and Interpreters, and the president of the Civil Rehabilitation Council of WA (Inc) from 1980 to 1982. He chaired the State Government Committee of Review into the Administration of Criminal Justice in Queensland in 1993, which reported in September that year. He was counsel to the WA Parliamentary Committee on Delegated Legislation from 1989 to 1998. In 1989 he was appointed deputy president, and in 2000, president of the Equal Opportunity Commission of Western Australia. [1]

Roberts-Smith has been an accredited Australian Advocacy Institute teacher since 1992 and was a member of the Legal Practice Board of WA between 1989 and 2000. Between 1992 and 2000, he was deputy chairman of the Legal Practitioners Complaints Committee. From 1999 to 2000, he was chair of the Murdoch University Board of Discipline, before resigning upon his appointment to the Bench. In 2002, prior to his appointment to the Bench, he conducted a Ministerial Review into the Western Australia Witness Protection Program and the death of a protected witness.

Roberts-Smith joined the Australian Army Reserve in 1964, being commissioned as a second lieutenant (Royal Australian Infantry) in 1969. When he moved to Port Moresby in 1970, Len Roberts-Smith transferred to the Australian Army Legal Corps as a reservist with the rank of captain. During his time in Papua New Guinea he was promoted to major. In 1985 he was appointed as a judge advocate and a defence force magistrate. He was promoted lieutenant colonel in 1986 and colonel in June 1994.[5] On 6 June 2002, Len Roberts-Smith was appointed Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Australian Defence Force and was promoted to major general, having been acting in the position since 3 October 2001. As JAG, Len Roberts-Smith was responsible for reporting annually to Parliament on the operation of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 and any other Commonwealth or Australian Capital Territory law relating to the discipline of the Defence Force. He was also responsible for making procedural rules for Service tribunals, providing the final legal review of proceedings with the Defence Force, participating in the appointment of Judge Advocates, Defence Force Magistrates, Presidents and members of the courts martial. His appointment to the substantive position was for a three-year term He was the first Western Australian to serve in the role. In 2005, he was reappointed by the Governor General of Australia for a further two years.[1]

On 26 November 2012 the Australian Government Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith MP, announced that Len Roberts-Smith had been appointed chair of an independent Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (the Taskforce), to deal with individual complaints of sexual and other abuse in the Australian Defence Force, some going back decades. The Taskforce is assessing each individual allegation of abuse in Defence that occurred prior to April 2011. The Taskforce is working with those who have made allegations to determine an appropriate response in individual cases, which may include: [6][full citation needed]

  • a referral to counselling
  • a Reparation Payment of up to $50,000
  • referral of appropriate matters to police or military justice authorities for formal criminal investigation and assessment for prosecution
  • referral to the Chief of the Defence Force for administrative action, and
  • possible restorative engagement, including apologies from appropriate senior Defence officers.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "About the CCC – The Commissioner". Corruption and Crime Commission of Western Australia. Government of Western Australia. 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG". Citation – Victoria Cross for Australia. Department of Defence, Commonwealth of Australia. 23 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  3. ^ AAP (23 January 2010). "SAS digger awarded VC for taking on Taliban". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Cowan, Sean; Taylor, Nick (22 January 2011). "WA digger awarded VC medal". The West Australian. West Australian Newspapers. Retrieved 22 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Biographical Details; APCML Conference 20–22 Feb 02 – ADF Contributions to International & Operations Law
  6. ^ The Weekend West 27 – 28 November 2012 ; The Australian Financial Review 27 November 2012; The Australian, 27 November 2012
  7. ^ Defence Abuse Response Taskforce.

Further reading[edit]

  • Len Roberts-Smith QC : administrative reformer and legal gladiator. Brief, Dec. 2000, p.27.

External links[edit]