List of Justices of the High Court of Australia

Official photograph of the first session of the High Court of Australia in the Banco Court, Supreme Court of Victoria, 6 October 1903. The mounting is autographed by the three foundation justices, from left to right, Edmund Barton, Samuel Griffith and Richard O'Connor

The following table contains the details of the 48 men and five women who have ever been appointed as Justices of the High Court of Australia. The High Court of Australia was formed in 1903 under the Judiciary Act 1903, and under Section 71 of the Australian Constitution the judicial power of the Commonwealth of Australia is vested in the Court.[1] Since the passing of the Australia Act 1986, the court has been the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy.

In a May 2017 speech, Justice Virginia Bell observed that "few Australians outside the law schools are likely to be able to name the Chief Justice, let alone the puisne Justices of the High Court".[2]

HistoryEdit

The court is currently composed of seven judges: six Justices and the Chief Justice of Australia.

Appointments were for life until 1977, when a mandatory retirement age of 70 was established, though several post-1977 Justices have retired before reaching the age of 70 (William Deane resigned as a Justice to be appointed Governor-General).

List of JusticesEdit

The current judges are listed in bold on the table below.

# Image Name State Birth/death Position Term
began
Term
ended
Days in office PM at app't Prior judicial
experience
Notes
1   Sir Samuel Griffith Qld 1845–1920 Chief Justice 5 October 1903 17 October 1919 5,856 Deakin Chief Justice,
Sup Ct of Qld
2   Sir Edmund Barton NSW 1849–1920 Justice 5 October 1903 7 January 1920 5,938 Deakin None Former Prime Minister
Died in office
3   Richard O'Connor NSW 1851–1912 Justice 5 October 1903 18 November 1912 3,332 Deakin None Died in office
4   Sir Isaac Isaacs Vic 1855–1948 Justice 12 October 1906 21 January 1931 8,867 [a] Deakin None Resigned to be appointed Governor-General
Chief Justice 2 April 1930 21 January 1931 294 Scullin
5   H. B. Higgins Vic 1851–1929 Justice 13 October 1906 13 January 1929 8,128 Deakin None Died in office
6   Sir Frank Gavan Duffy Vic 1852–1936 Justice 11 February 1913 1 October 1935 8,267 [a] Fisher None
Chief Justice 22 January 1931 1 October 1935 1,713 Scullin
7   Sir Charles Powers Qld 1853–1939 Justice 5 March 1913 22 July 1929 5,983 Fisher None
8*   Albert Piddington NSW 1862–1945 Justice 6 March 1913 5 April 1913 30 [b] Fisher None Resigned before sitting
9   Sir George Rich NSW 1863–1956 Justice 5 April 1913 5 May 1950 13,544 Fisher Sup Ct of NSW
10   Sir Adrian Knox NSW 1863–1932 Chief Justice 18 October 1919 31 March 1930 3,817 Hughes None
11   Sir Hayden Starke Vic 1871–1958 Justice 5 February 1920 31 January 1950 10,953 Hughes None
12   Sir Owen Dixon Vic 1886–1972 Justice 4 February 1929 13 April 1964 12852 [a] Bruce None
Chief Justice 18 April 1952 13 April 1964 4378 [a] Menzies
13   H. V. Evatt NSW 1894–1965 Justice 19 December 1930 2 September 1940 3,545 Scullin None Resigned to return to politics
14   Sir Edward McTiernan NSW 1892–1990 Justice 20 December 1930 12 September 1976 16,703 Scullin None
15   Sir John Latham Vic 1877–1964 Chief Justice 11 October 1935 7 April 1952 6,023 Lyons None
16   Sir Dudley Williams NSW 1889–1963 Justice 15 October 1940 31 July 1958 6,498 Menzies Sup Ct of NSW
17   Sir William Webb Qld 1887–1972 Justice 16 May 1946 16 May 1958 4,383 Chifley Chief Justice,
Sup Ct of Qld
18   Sir Wilfred Fullagar Vic 1892–1961 Justice 8 February 1950 9 July 1961 4,169 Menzies Sup Ct of Vic Died in office
19   Sir Frank Kitto NSW 1903–1994 Justice 10 May 1950 1 August 1970 7,388 Menzies None
20   Sir Alan Taylor NSW 1901–1969 Justice 3 September 1952 3 August 1969 6,178 Menzies Sup Ct of NSW Died in office
21   Sir Douglas Menzies Vic 1907–1974 Justice 12 June 1958 29 November 1974 6,014 Menzies None Died in office
22   Sir Victor Windeyer NSW 1900–1987 Justice 8 September 1958 29 February 1972 4,922 Menzies None
23   Sir William Owen NSW 1899–1972 Justice 22 September 1961 31 March 1972 3,843 Menzies Sup Ct of NSW Died in office
24   Sir Garfield Barwick NSW 1903–1997 Chief Justice 27 April 1964 11 February 1981 6,134 Menzies None
25   Sir Cyril Walsh NSW 1909–1973 Justice 20 September 1969 29 November 1973 1,531 Gorton Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
Died in office
26   Sir Harry Gibbs Qld 1917–2005 Justice 4 August 1970 5 February 1987 6029 [a] Gorton Fed Ct of BK
Sup Ct of Qld
Chief Justice 12 February 1981 5 February 1987 2184 [a][c] Fraser
27   Sir Ninian Stephen Vic 1923–2017 Justice 1 March 1972 11 May 1982 3,723 McMahon Sup Ct of Vic Resigned to be appointed Governor-General
28   Sir Anthony Mason NSW 1925– Justice 7 August 1972 20 April 1995 8,291 [a] McMahon Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
Chief Justice 6 February 1987 20 April 1995 2995 [c] Hawke
29   Sir Kenneth Jacobs NSW 1917–2015 Justice 8 February 1974 6 April 1979 1,883 Whitlam Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
30   Lionel Murphy NSW 1922–1986 Justice 10 February 1975 21 October 1986 4,271 Whitlam None Died in office
31   Sir Keith Aickin Vic 1916–1982 Justice 20 September 1976 18 June 1982 2,097 Fraser None Died in office
32   Sir Ronald Wilson WA 1922–2005 Justice 21 May 1979 13 February 1989 3,556 [c] Fraser None
33   Sir Gerard Brennan Qld 1928– Justice 12 February 1981 21 May 1998 6,307 [a][c] Fraser Fed Ct
Chief Justice 21 April 1995 21 May 1998 1126 [c] Keating
34   Sir William Deane NSW 1931– Justice 25 June 1982 11 November 1995 4,887 [c] Fraser Fed Ct Resigned to be appointed Governor-General
35   Sir Daryl Dawson Vic 1933– Justice 30 July 1982 15 August 1997 5,495 [c] Fraser None
36   John Toohey WA 1930–2015 Justice 6 February 1987 2 February 1998 4,014 [c] Hawke Fed Ct
37   Mary Gaudron NSW 1943– Justice 6 February 1987 31 January 2003 5,838 [c] Hawke None
38   Michael McHugh NSW 1935– Justice 14 February 1989 31 October 2005 6,104 [c] Hawke Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
39   William Gummow NSW 1942– Justice 21 April 1995 8 October 2012 6,381 [c] Keating Fed Ct
40   Michael Kirby NSW 1939– Justice 6 February 1996 2 February 2009 4,745 [c] Keating Sup Ct of NSW
Pres, NSW Ct of App
41   Kenneth Hayne Vic 1945– Justice 22 September 1997 5 June 2015 6,465 [c] Howard Sup Ct of Vic
Vic Ct of App
42   Ian Callinan Qld 1937– Justice 3 February 1998 31 August 2007[3] 3,496 [c] Howard None
43   Murray Gleeson NSW 1938– Chief Justice 22 May 1998 29 August 2008[4] 3,752 [c] Howard Chief Justice,
Sup Ct of NSW
44 Dyson Heydon NSW 1943– Justice 1 February 2003 28 February 2013 3,681 [c] Howard Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
45   Susan Crennan Vic 1945– Justice 1 November 2005 2 February 2015 3,381 [c] Howard Fed Ct
46   Susan Kiefel Qld 1954– Justice 4 September 2007 Incumbent 4,652 [a][c] Howard Sup Ct of Qld
Fed Ct
Chief Justice 30 January 2017 Incumbent 1,216 [c] Turnbull
47   Robert French WA 1947– Chief Justice 8 September 2008[4] 29 January 2017 3,072 [c] Rudd Fed Ct
48   Virginia Bell NSW 1951– Justice 3 February 2009[5] Incumbent 4,134 [c] Rudd Sup Ct of NSW
NSW Ct of App
49   Stephen Gageler NSW 1958– Justice 9 October 2012[6] Incumbent 2,790 [c] Gillard None
50   Patrick Keane Qld 1952– Justice 1 March 2013 Incumbent 2,647 [c] Gillard Sup Ct of Qld
Fed Ct
51   Geoffrey Nettle Vic 1950– Justice 3 February 2015 Incumbent 1,943 [c] Abbott Sup Ct of Vic
52   Michelle Gordon Vic 1964– Justice 9 June 2015 Incumbent 1,817 [c] Abbott Fed Ct
53 James Edelman WA 1974– Justice 30 January 2017 Incumbent 1,216 [c] Turnbull Fed Ct
Sup Ct of WA
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Terms as Puisne Justice and Chief Justice combined
  2. ^ Albert Piddington resigned from the High Court before being sworn in. He never sat on the High Court bench.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Justices to whom mandatory retirement (age 70) applied/applies; appointments since 1977

Current JusticesEdit

Name[7] State Date appointed Mandatory retirement Appointing
Governor-General
Nominating
Prime Minister
Previous judicial posting(s) Education
Susan Kiefel AC
(Chief Justice)
Queensland 30 January 2017
(as Chief Justice)
4 September 2007
(as Justice)
17 January 2024 Sir Peter Cosgrove (as Chief Justice)
Michael Jeffery (as Justice)
Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal, as Chief Justice)
John Howard (Liberal, as Justice)
Supreme Court of Queensland
Federal Court of Australia
Queensland Barristers' Admission Board
University of Cambridge
Virginia Bell AC New South Wales 3 February 2009 7 March 2021 Dame Quentin Bryce Kevin Rudd (Labor) Supreme Court of New South Wales University of Sydney
Stephen Gageler AC New South Wales 9 October 2012 5 July 2028 Dame Quentin Bryce Julia Gillard (Labor) None; former Solicitor-General of Australia Australian National University
Harvard University
Patrick Keane AC Queensland 1 March 2013 26 October 2022 Dame Quentin Bryce Julia Gillard (Labor) Supreme Court of Queensland
Federal Court of Australia
University of Queensland
University of Oxford
Geoffrey Nettle AC Victoria 3 February 2015 2 December 2020 Sir Peter Cosgrove Tony Abbott (Liberal) Supreme Court of Victoria Australian National University
University of Melbourne
University of Oxford
Michelle Gordon AC Victoria 9 June 2015 19 November 2034 Sir Peter Cosgrove Tony Abbott (Liberal) Federal Court of Australia University of Western Australia
James Edelman Western Australia 30 January 2017 9 January 2044 Sir Peter Cosgrove Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal) Supreme Court of Western Australia
Federal Court of Australia
University of Western Australia
Murdoch University
University of Oxford

Composition of the High CourtEdit

13 politicians, serving or former, have been appointed to the High Court of Australia. Nine justices have served in the Parliament of Australia: Edmund Barton, Richard O'Connor, Isaac Isaacs, H. B. Higgins, Edward McTiernan, H. V. Evatt, John Latham, Garfield Barwick, and Lionel Murphy. All but Evatt were appointed after their parliamentary service; Evatt resigned from the bench in order to pursue his federal political career, although he had previously served in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. In addition to the above, four justices served in colonial parliaments: Samuel Griffith, Charles Powers, Albert Piddington and Adrian Knox, although all concluded their political careers more than 10 years prior to their appointments. As of 2020, the most recent justice to serve in state or federal parliament is Lionel Murphy.

This following chart illustrates the composition of the High Court. It indicates the seven seats of the court, and who has occupied each seat at different points in the court's existence. The red portions represent the future part of a judge's term and show the date at which they are bound to retire from the court (although they may choose to retire before that date). The blue portions of a judge's term show a period in which that judge was Chief Justice.

Patrick KeaneDyson HeydonMary GaudronHarry GibbsFrank KittoGeorge RichAlbert PiddingtonVirginia BellMichael Kirby (judge)William DeaneNinian StephenVictor WindeyerDudley WilliamsH.V. EvattCharles PowersJames EdelmanRobert FrenchMurray GleesonGerard BrennanGarfield BarwickOwen DixonH.B. HigginsSusan KiefelIan CallinanJohn TooheyLionel MurphyDouglas MenziesWilliam Webb (judge)Isaac IsaacsGeoffrey NettleSusan CrennanMichael McHughRonald WilsonKenneth JacobsCyril WalshAlan Taylor (jurist)John Latham (judge)Frank Gavan DuffyRichard O'Connor (Australian politician)Stephen GagelerWilliam GummowAnthony MasonWilliam Owen (judge)Wilfred FullagarHayden StarkeEdmund BartonMichelle GordonKenneth HayneDaryl DawsonKeith AickinEdward McTiernanAdrian KnoxSamuel Griffith

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, s 71 ("Judicial power & courts"). From Australian Legal Information Institute (AUSTLII), "Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act: Chapter III: The Judicature: Section 71". Accessed 26 January 2007.
  2. ^ Bell, Virginia (29 May 2017). "Examining the Judge: Launch of Issue 40(2) UNSW Law Journal" (PDF). High Court of Australia. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Callinan retires from High Court", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 31 August 2007. Accessed 31 August 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Chief Justice honoured at retirement ceremony". ABC News. 29 August 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  5. ^ "Michael Kirby leaves High Court bench with 'faith' in law intact". The Australian. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2009.
  6. ^ "Solicitor-General Gagelar appointed to High Court". ABC News. 21 August 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  7. ^ "About the Justices". High Court of Australia. Retrieved 1 March 2013.

External linksEdit