Supreme Court of New South Wales
|Supreme Court of New South Wales|
The Supreme Court building in Queen's Square, Sydney
|Composition method||Vice-regal appointment upon Premier's nomination, following advice of the Attorney General and Cabinet|
|Authorized by||Parliament of New South Wales via the:|
|Decisions are appealed to|
|Decisions are heard for appeals from||
District Court of New South Wales|
Local Court of New South Wales
|Judge term length||mandatory retirement by age of 72|
|Number of positions||53|
|Chief Justice of New South Wales|
|Currently||Justice Tom Bathurst AC|
|Since||1 June 2011|
The Supreme Court of New South Wales is the highest state court of the Australian State of New South Wales. It has unlimited jurisdiction within the state in civil matters, and hears the most serious criminal matters. Whilst the Supreme Court is the highest New South Wales court in the Australian court hierarchy, an appeal by special leave can be made to the High Court of Australia.
Matters of appeal can be submitted to the New South Wales Court of Appeal and Court of Criminal Appeal, both of which are constituted by members of the Supreme Court, in the case of the Court of Appeal from those who have been commissioned as judges of appeal.
The Supreme Court consists of 52 permanent judges, including the Chief Justice of New South Wales, presently Tom Bathurst, the President of the Court of Appeal, 11 Judges of Appeal, the Chief Judge at Common Law, and the Chief Judge in Equity.
The first superior court of the Colony of New South Wales (known as the Supreme Court of Civil Judicature) was established by letters patent dated 2 April 1814, known as the Second Charter of Justice of New South Wales. That charter provided that there should be a Supreme Court constituted by a Judge appointed by the King's commission and two Magistrates. The charter also created the Governor's Court and the Lieutenant-Governor's Court. The jurisdiction of the Governor's Court and the Supreme Court extended to Van Diemen's Land (the former name for Tasmania). All three courts were concerned with civil matters only.
Legislation to establish a new supreme court for both New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land was prepared in London by James Stephen, counsel to the Colonial Office, and Francis Forbes, Chief Justice of Newfoundland and Chief Justice-designate of New South Wales. The act was called an "Act to provide for the better administration of justice in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land and for the more effectual government thereof" and is commonly numbered as "4 Geo. IV, c. 96". The statute was passed on 19 July 1823.
In consequence of this legislation, letters patent establishing the New South Wales Supreme Court were sealed on 13 October 1823, and proclaimed in Sydney on 17 May 1824. They are known as the Third Charter of Justice of New South Wales.
This charter provided that there should be a Chief Justice for the colony of New South Wales in the Island of New Holland (as the continent of Australia was then known), as well as other judges, a registrar, a prothonotary, a master, and a Keeper of Records and such other Officers as may be necessary for the administration of Justice in the colony.
The charter also established the office of sheriff; gave precedence to the Chief Justice over all other subjects except the Governor (or acting Governor) of the colony; and allowed the Court to admit persons to be barristers, attorneys, proctors or solicitors as the case may be. Previously, a person had to be admitted as such in the United Kingdom. However, ex-convicts were not permitted to be admitted.
In 1840, a Port Phillip division of the Court was created, consisting of a single Resident Judge, to exercise the court's jurisdiction in the Port Phillip District of the Colony of New South Wales. The division existed until 1852, when it was replaced by the Supreme Court of Victoria following the creation of the Colony of Victoria.
Also in 1840, the Parliament of New South Wales established a separate equity division in the court. Limited jurisdiction in divorce cases was granted in 1873 and full Admiralty jurisdiction was added in 1911. The Supreme Court, in 1972, was one of the last Common Law jurisdictions in the world to fuse the administration of Equity and Common Law, although these continue as the historic names for the two divisions of the court. This process began in the United Kingdom with the passage of the Judicature Acts in 1873. Since 1930, three generations of the Street family have served New South Wales as Chief Justice.
Supreme Court Judges Carolyn Simpson, Margaret Beazley and Virginia Bell made headlines in April 1999 when the three sat in the Court of Criminal Appeal in Sydney. The Judges threw out an appeal from a convicted computer hacker who had, out of "sheer maliciousness", been posting offensive messages on Ausnet's homepage. According to the Women Lawyers Association of NSW, there had never been an all-female bench in England or New Zealand at the time.
Structure and jurisdiction
The court now operates under the Constitution Act 1902 (NSW), the Supreme Court Act 1970 (NSW), and the Civil Procedure Act 2005 (NSW), although provisions on the appointment and removal of judicial officers were incorporated into the state's Constitution in 1992.
The court consists of 52 permanent judges, three Acting Judges of Appeal, two Acting Judges, and an Associate Judge. Permanent judges include the Chief Justice of New South Wales, the President of the Court of Appeal, eleven Judges of Appeal (one of whom is currently the Chief Judge at Common Law), the Chief Judge at Common Law and the Chief Judge in Equity, and 38 Puisne Judges.
The Chief Judge in each trial division also sits in the Court of Appeal from time to time. Occasionally, puisne judges also sit in the Court of Appeal, though this is uncommon.
The court hears very serious cases such as murder and treason, civil cases involving more than $750 000, and civil matters such as wills, injunctions, and admiralty. The court's work at first instance is divided between the Common Law Division, which hears civil, criminal and administrative law matters, and the Equity Division, which hears equity, probate, commercial, admiralty, and protective matters. The court includes the Court of Appeal and the Court of Criminal Appeal which hear appeals from the District Court and the Local Court and from single judges sitting in the Common Law or Equity Divisions. The Court of Appeal also hears appeals from the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales and a number of administrative tribunals.
The Court of Appeal and the Court of Criminal Appeal are respectively the highest civil and criminal courts in the state. To appeal to the High Court of Australia from the Court of Appeal or the Court of Criminal Appeal, special leave must be granted by the High Court.
Appeals from state supreme courts to the High Court are not limited to matters in which a federal question arises and the Constitution empowers the Federal Parliament to make laws vesting state courts with federal jurisdiction. The High Court of Australia can review decisions of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in relation to the common law and equitable jurisdictions of the court as well. The High Court of Australia has exercised this power on a number of occasions.
The current judges serving on the Court as of July 2017[update], and the dates of their appointment, are listed below.
|Term in office||Comments||Notes|
|Tom Bathurst AC||Chief Justice||1 June 2011||7 years, 75 days|||
|Margaret Beazley AO||President of the Court of Appeal||1 March 2013||5 years, 167 days|||
|Judge of Appeal||29 April 1996||22 years, 108 days|
|Ruth McColl AO||Judge of Appeal||29 April 2003||15 years, 108 days|
|John Basten||Judge of Appeal||2 May 2005||13 years, 105 days|
|Robert Macfarlan||Judge of Appeal||8 September 2008||9 years, 341 days|||
|Anthony Meagher||Judge of Appeal||10 August 2011||7 years, 5 days|||
|Clifton Hoeben AM RFD||Chief Judge at Common law||February 22, 2013||5 years, 174 days|
|Judge||August 16, 2004||13 years, 364 days|
|Julie Ward||Chief Judge in Equity||15 March 2017||1 year, 153 days|||
|Judge of Appeal||12 November 2012||5 years, 276 days|
|Judge||29 September 2008||9 years, 320 days|||
|Peter McClellan AM||Judge of Appeal||21 February 2013||5 years, 175 days||Chief Royal Commissioner of the child abuse Royal Commission|
|Chief Judge at Common Law||1 September 2005||21 February 2013||7 years, 173 days|
|Judge||29 January 2001||25 August 2003||2 years, 208 days||Appointed Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court
(25 August 2003 – 1 September 2005)
|Fabian Gleeson||Judge of Appeal||29 April 2013||5 years, 108 days|||
|Mark Leeming||Judge of Appeal||3 June 2013||5 years, 73 days|||
|Carolyn Simpson||Judge of Appeal||11 June 2015||3 years, 65 days|
|Anthony Payne||Judge of Appeal||30 March 2016||2 years, 138 days|
|Richard White||Judge of Appeal||15 March 2017||1 year, 153 days|||
|Judge||27 April 2004||14 years, 110 days|||
|Reginald Barrett||Acting Judge of Appeal||16 March 2016||2 years, 152 days|
|Judge of Appeal||25 January 2012||20 April 2015||3 years, 85 days||Retired at age 71, later appointed as an Acting Judge of Appeal|||
|Judge||March 19, 2001||14 years, 32 days|||
|Arthur Emmett AO||Judge of Appeal||7 March 2013||30 September 2015||2 years, 207 days||Judge of the Federal Court (3 Feb 1997 - 6 Mar 2013)|||
|Acting Judge of Appeal||30 September 2015||2 years, 319 days|
|Ronald Sackville AO||Acting Judge of Appeal||1 September 2008||9 years, 348 days||Judge of the Federal Court (19 Sep 1994 - 25 Aug 2008)|
|Michael Walton||Judge||8 December 2016||1 year, 250 days|
|IRC Judicial Member||18 December 1998||19 years, 240 days||Vice President & President of the Industrial Court of NSW
(April 1998 - 7 December 2016)
|Robert McDougall||Judge||21 August 2003||14 years, 359 days|
|Peter Johnson||Judge||1 February 2005||13 years, 195 days|
|Megan Latham||Judge||12 April 2005||13 years, 125 days||Former Commissioner of ICAC|
|Stephen Rothman AM||Judge||3 May 2005||13 years, 104 days|
|Paul Brereton AM RFD||Judge||15 August 2005||13 years, 0 days|
|Derek Price AM||Judge||28 August 2006||11 years, 352 days|||
|David Hammerschlag||Judge||30 January 2007||11 years, 197 days|||
|Ian Harrison||Judge||12 February 2007||11 years, 184 days|||
|Elizabeth Fullerton||Judge||19 February 2007||11 years, 177 days|||
|Lucy McCallum||Judge||30 January 2008||10 years, 197 days|
|Nigel Rein||Judge||5 May 2008||10 years, 102 days||Judge of the District Court
(2002 - 4 May 2008
|Robert Hulme||Judge||2 March 2009||9 years, 166 days|||
|Michael Slattery||Judge||25 May 2009||9 years, 82 days|||
|David Davies||Judge||29 June 2009||9 years, 47 days|||
|Monika Schmidt||Judge||27 July 2009||9 years, 19 days||Judge of the Industrial Court of NSW (1993-2009)|||
|Michael Pembroke||Judge||12 April 2010||8 years, 125 days|||
|Michael Ball||Judge||13 April 2010||8 years, 124 days|||
|Peter Garling RFD||Judge||7 June 2010||8 years, 69 days|||
|John Sackar||Judge||1 February 2011||7 years, 195 days|||
|Ashley Black||Judge||4 July 2011||7 years, 42 days|||
|Christine Adamson||Judge||17 October 2011||6 years, 302 days|||
|Geoffrey Bellew||Judge||31 January 2012||6 years, 196 days|||
|James Stevenson||Judge||1 February 2012||6 years, 195 days|||
|Robert Beech-Jones||Judge||12 March 2012||6 years, 156 days|||
|Stephen Campbell||Judge||2 May 2012||6 years, 105 days|||
|Richard Button||Judge||12 June 2012||6 years, 64 days|||
|Geoff Lindsay||Judge||6 August 2012||6 years, 9 days|||
|Philip Hallen||Judge||12 November 2012||5 years, 276 days|
|Associate Judge||5 July 2010||11 November 2012||2 years, 129 days|||
|Francois Kunc||Judge||8 April 2013||5 years, 129 days|||
|Stephen Robb||Judge||20 June 2013||5 years, 56 days|||
|Rowan Darke||Judge||16 August 2013||4 years, 364 days|||
|Robertson Wright||Judge||25 October 2013||4 years, 294 days|||
|Peter Hamill||Judge||29 April 2014||4 years, 108 days|||
|Helen Wilson||Judge||3 November 2014||3 years, 285 days|
|Des Fagan||Judge||11 June 2015||3 years, 65 days|
|Natalie Adams||Judge||5 April 2016||2 years, 132 days|
|Julia Lonergan||Judge||21 March 2017||1 year, 147 days|||
|Guy Parker||Judge||6 April 2017||1 year, 131 days|||
|Peter Hidden AM||Acting Judge||March 2016||2 years, 167 days|
|Judge||16 October 1995||February 2016||22 years, 303 days|
|Jane Mathews AO||Acting Judge|
|Joanne Harrison||Associate Judge|
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- "Third Charter of Justice". Historical Records of Australia. 13 October 1823. Archived from the original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
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- "Swearing in Ceremony of the Honourable David Jacob Hammerschlag".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 1.
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- "Swearing in Ceremony of the Honourable Elizabeth Fullerton SC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 2.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Nigel Rein".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 11.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Robert Hulme".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 5.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Michael Slattery QC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 9.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable David Davies SC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 10.
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- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Michael Pembroke SC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 6.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Michael Ball".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 14.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Peter Garling RFD SC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 13.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable John Sackar QC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 2.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Ashley Black".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 20.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Christine Adamson SC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 34.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Geoffrey Bellew".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 3.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable James Stevenson".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 8.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Robert Beech-Jones".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 15.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Stephen Campbell".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 23.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Richard Button".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 25.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Geoffrey Charles Lindsay".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 31.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Phillip Hallen SC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 15.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Francois Kunc SC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 14.
- "Swearing-In Ceremony of the Honourable Justice Stephen Robb QC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 20.
- "Swearing in Ceremony of the Honourable Justice Rowan James Hunter Darke SC".  NSW Judicial Scholarship 28.
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