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New High Court Chief Justice takes up role


The High Court of Australia has a new Chief Justice.

Chief Justice Robert French, who was appointed by federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland in late July, took up his position on 1 September.

His Honour will be the twelfth Chief Justice appointed to the High Court since Federation, and the first from Western Australia.

He was appointed from the Federal Court of Australia, where he had served since 1986.

Chief Justice French, 61, has had extensive experience in the judiciary, serving as a non-resident member of the Supreme Court of Fiji since 2003, an additional judge for the Supreme Court of the ACT since 2003, Australian Competition Tribunal deputy president since 2005 and a part-time Australian Law Reform Commissioner since 2006.

His previous offices include being Trade Practices Commission associate member from 1983-1986, Legal Aid Commission of WA member from 1983-1986, Town Planning Appeal Tribunal (WA) deputy chair, then chair from 1983-1986, Law Reform Commission of WA member 1986 and National Native Title Tribunal president from 1994-1998.

Chief Justice French replaces Chief Justice Murray Gleeson, who retired on 29 August after 10 years in the role.

Chief Justice Gleeson congratulated Chief Justice French on his appointment to the High Court.

“Justice French is one of Australia’s most outstanding judges. He will bring with him to the High Court a wealth of ability and experience, and the goodwill of the entire Australian judiciary. I wish him every success in his new office.”

In one of his final public duties before retirement, Chief Justice Gleeson presented a Victoria Law Foundation Oration on “Statutory Interpretation” at the Victorian Supreme Court.

For more on the Oration, please see page 52 of this edition of the LIJ.


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