Talk:List of Justices of the High Court of Australia

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This article describes Justices as being "appointed by the Prime Minister." This is incorrect, and suggests that whoever wrote it has been overly influenced by United States practices. Justices are appointed by the Governor-General in Council, on the advice of the Cabinet. The nomination of Justices for approval by the Cabinet is done by the Attorney-General. The Prime Minister plays no formal role in the process, though he will have an opinion in the Cabinet discussion, more so if he is a lawyer. But Fisher, for example, deferred entirely to Hughes in judicial appointments, as did Chifley to Evatt. Adam 12:58, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

And Barton to Deakin.

The formatting of the tables makes it a bit of a pain to change details. Is there another type of formatting that can make this more edit friendly? Xtra 01:36, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

What is difficult about it? Ambi 02:04, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
the alternating colours. the lack of being able to see what detail corresponds to what header when editing. but i suppose it is not the most complicated table around. i may just be not used to playing with tables. Xtra 02:41, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
It shouldn't be too much of a problem, we won't need to change it again until September 2007. --bainer (talk) 22:02, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Justice vs Judge[edit]

The title uses "Judge", the text uses "Justices" - which one should we use? enochlau (talk) 11:10, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

High schools[edit]

I've compiled a list of judges and their high schools at User:Enochlau/High Court Judges. I'm not sure it's worth including in the tables on this page (the tables are quite full already), but the info is there if anyone wants to use it. There are 4 I can't find, being Taylor, McHugh, Heydon and Crennan. enochlau (talk) 14:09, 5 January 2006 (UTC)


Could some explain the difference between "retired" and "resigned" in the reason for leaving office column? Shadow007 07:28, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

After the Constitutional Amendment, it would differentiate those who were compulsorily retired on the grounds of age to those who weren't, but I believe that Justice McHugh was the first person ever affected by the mandatory retirement age; the others all resigned short of their term expiring. Not sure about beforehand; I got this out of a book that's taken from the High Court companion. JRG 02:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think that's the case, because there were people both retiring and resigning before the change came in. I think the difference is just the standard dictionary definition difference, that is, retiring is stopping work completely whereas resigning is just leaving a particular job. The source for all these is indeed the Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia. --bainer (talk) 06:12, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
With great respect to the Oxford Companion, I do not see how Sir George Rich at the age of 87 after 37 years on the Court could be said to have "resigned". (talk) 02:33, 22 February 2009 (UTC)Fat Red (talk) 02:38, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

High Court appearances by Justices as barristers[edit]

I have removed this section as it was unsourced. JRG 13:15, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Many of the future Justices of the High Court, when barristers, argued cases before the High Court. Indeed, only four did not: Griffith, Barton and O'Connor (the original three members of the court, who could of course not have argued before it) and Powers, who remains the only solicitor to have been appointed to the court. Below is a list of the Justices, ordered by the number of times each appeared before the court (which appears in brackets after their name):

Interesting list even if unsourced. Where is Heydon though? Shadow007 04:28, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Faulty Link in Composition of the High Court for Sir Alan Taylor[edit]

The table is fantastic but the internal link for Sir Alan Taylor redirects to an American historian of the same name. I wish to change it to Alan Taylor (jurist) which is the name of the article, only it does not show up when I try to edit. Can someone do it please? Doktor Waterhouse 12:23, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

I've updated the table, doing a date update and fixing three Wikilinks of Judge's names (Taylor, Kirby and Owen) so that disambiguation pages are bypassed. The changes don't appear to have made their way through to the table as it appears in this list article however. I'm not sure how the transclusion process actually works - so if anyone can offer a clue as to how to get the list to update properly, it would be appreciated.GlenDillon 09:31, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
Problem solved, though I resorted to first removing then replacing the table. Might have been a more elegant solution, but... GlenDillon 13:07, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

Retirement date[edit]

So Michael Kirby retires on 2nd February according to many sources (including his wiki page) but this article [1] seems to imply that he'll pass his last judgement at 2pm on the 3rd February. Does this make his retirement the 2nd or the 3rd? How does this retire thing work in law? Is here simply cleaning up his work from the previous day (and thus, not technically working on the 3rd?) or does this constitute him working on the 3rd (and thus making that his last day?) Am I looking into this too deeply? Serrin (talk) 10:06, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

I think that it is simply ambiguous reporting. The four case listed here would seem to me to be the ones the article refers to. It would be unusual to have the new justice (Bell) sworn in on the morning of the 3rd and Kirby still conducting business in the afternoon. Every other source I've seen has said that he retired on the 2nd. Shadow007 (talk) 00:44, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
The judgments in question were handed down on the afternoon of the 2nd: [1]. (talk) 02:35, 22 February 2009 (UTC)


Almae matres[edit]

Rather than listing each and every institution of higher learning, would it be more fitting and, more importantly, relevant to name the law school from which these Justices graduated or, at the least, learned the art and science of law, considering one's law school (or law schools) are substantially more important than the universities from which one read on matters not related, or indirectly related, to the law?

I note that Susan Maree Crennan, a current puisne justice, is not as purported a graduate of the Melbourne Law School, or the law school of the University of Melbourne, but that she is a graduate of the Sydney Law School. I do note that her inclusion as a justice with legal education and training from the Melbourne Law School may be acceptable granted the fact that she earned a postgraduate diploma in constitutional history; however, as the diploma or, more generally, degree was in history (Postgrad. Dip. Hist.) and not law, according to the High Court of Australia's website, and given the above request to change alma matre or alma matre to law school(s), it seems reasonable that Crennan have the University of Melbourne removed from her entry. --Qwerty Binary (talk) 08:39, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

Number of High Court judges[edit]

At the swearing-in ceremony for Justice Nettle, the Attorney-General referred to Justice Nettle as the 50th High Court Justice. The transcript is here. Wikipedia lists him as the 51st. Unless the Attorney (or rather his speechwriter) made an error, it seems that for some reason Albert Piddington is not considered to have been a High Court Judge. This is the only other possible explanation.

Is there reason to doubt that Piddington was a High Court Justice? His article indicates he received a commission but did not sit on the Court. Section 72 of the Constitution simply says that a Justice is appointed by the Governor-General in Council; so perhaps the commission is enough. The current High Court of Australia Act provides for an oath or affirmation to be made before "proceeding to discharge the duties... of office". But this seems predicated on the person being already a Justice. I am not sure what applied at the time of Piddington's appointment.

Given that the Commonwealth's Attorney-General appears to have publicly suggested (albeit impliedly) that Piddington was not Justice, it warrants consideration here I would have thought. Shadow007 (talk) 02:17, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

I notice that the High Court's website lists him as a Justice ( Seems the Attorney just made an error. Shadow007 (talk) 00:08, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

Merger Discussion[edit]

Request received to merge articles: List of Justices of the High Court of Australia by time in office into List of Justices of the High Court of Australia; dated: January 2018.

Proposer's Rationale: The list by time in office essentially duplicates the list of Justices but is sorted by time in office. I propose to merge the list by time in office by modifying the list of justices to include a column "time in office" and making the table sortable. Apart from anything else it would remove the need to edit the list by time in office when an incumbent judge moves up the list. I don't expect it to be controversial, but thought I would include a discussion in case there were other views. Find bruce (talk) 10:21, 4 January 2018 (UTC)

In the absence of any objection, I have merged content from List of Justices of the High Court of Australia by time in office to here Find bruce (talk) 04:19, 6 April 2018 (UTC)

Gibbs retirement/resignation[edit]

Below is a discussion from my talk page which I have copied here so that other editors can have their input. To me the column is a bit of a mess & there does not appear to be any authoritative source, nor any proper basis for deciding whether a person should be treated as retiring or resigning. Some such as Evatt are clear while other such as Webb appear to have no basis. The distinction fails to impart anything useful in the case of Gibbs. Similarly French had a retirement ceremony ([2016] HCATrans 293) not a resignation ceremony. I am leaning towards Shadow007's suggestion of deleting the column as it doesn't communicate any useful information. Find bruce (talk) 07:06, 10 April 2018 (UTC)

Although the motivation for Gibbs leaving the Court was the impending operation of section 72 of the Constitution, he actually resigned on 5 February, one day prior to the operation of section 72 on 6 February (his birth date being 7 February). It is clear that this was done in order to ensure that Mason could be sworn in immediately (6 February being a Friday) rather than the following Monday.

Consistent with how the resignation/retirement part has been dealt with in the article, I believe this should be recorded as a resignation not a retirement because he would have had to formally resign his commission on 5 February rather than simply allow the Constitution to operate on 6 February. Although it was a matter of one day, there seems to me to be no reason to distinguish this situation from those of Kirby and French, for example, whose resignations were motivated by the impending operation of section 72 but chose to do so a few weeks earlier in order to allow replacement justices to commence at the beginning of the Court's term. Shadow007 (talk) 01:47, 10 April 2018 (UTC)

Thanks Shadow007 its an interesting point that I will have a think about. If that approach were adopted, wouldn't it follow that every "retirement" before then would in fact be a resignation? The designation of retirement / resignation seems to me to be a bit random. I find it hard to accept that Rich's cessation of office aged 87 was anything but a retirement. Similarly Starke aged 79. On the other end of the scale, Gaudron, aged 60, would appear to be a resignation. More fundamentally are you aware of any authoritative list that deals with the issue ? Find bruce (talk) 02:22, 10 April 2018 (UTC)

@Find bruce: I am not aware of any source that definitively establishes the difference. There are two relevant time periods; first, prior to mandatory retirement and, second, after mandatory retirement. In relation to the first period, I think the difference comes down to the career the Justice had after leaving the Court. So Griffith held no substantial positions after leaving, therefore is said to have retired, whereas Isaacs became Governor-General and so is said to have resigned in order to take up that office. It appears that this has been very inconsistently applied. For example, Charles Powers is listed as resigning but there is nothing in his article to suggest he held any substantial positions after leaving the Court, therefore I think that is a retirement.
In relation to the second period, I think the difference is whether the Justice leaves the Court prior to the operation of section 72 and mandatory retirement. Leaving aside Gibbs, all Justices who served up until the day before their 70th birthday (Mason, Brennan, McHugh, Callinan, Gummow, Heydon, Hayne) would be retirements whereas the other judges that resigned before their 70th birthdays (Wilson, Deane, Dawson, Toohey, Gaudron, Kirby, Crennan, French) would be resignations. The article is inconsistent here too because Kirby and French are currently listed as retirements although previous versions of the article (which included an edit by me re French which was later changed) had both of these as resignations. Similarly, Gaudron was previously a resignation and then was edited to a retirement at some point. I have not tracked down all the relevant edits.
It might be that the column is rather pointless. For example, List of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States does not contain such a column. It could perhaps be replaced by a "Notes" column where significant things such as whether the Justice died in office or resigned to take up another positions, like Governor-General, could be noted. Shadow007 (talk) 03:39, 10 April 2018 (UTC)