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New South Wales Court of Appeal

New South Wales Court of Appeal
33°52′08″S 151°12′42″E / 33.868918°S 151.211628°E / -33.868918; 151.211628
Established1 January 1966 (1966-01-01)
Jurisdiction New South Wales
Coordinates33°52′08″S 151°12′42″E / 33.868918°S 151.211628°E / -33.868918; 151.211628
Composition methodVice-regal appointment upon Premier's nomination, following advice of the Attorney General and Cabinet
Authorized byParliament of New South Wales via the:
Appeals toHigh Court of Australia
Appeals from
Judge term lengthMandatory retirement by age of 75
Chief Justice of New South Wales
CurrentlyJustice Andrew Bell
Since7 March 2022 (7 March 2022)
President of the Court of Appeal
CurrentlyJustice Julie Ward
Since7 March 2022 (7 March 2022)

The New South Wales Court of Appeal, part of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, is the highest court for civil matters and has appellate jurisdiction in the Australian state of New South Wales.


The Court of Appeal operates pursuant to the Supreme Court Act 1970 (NSW). The Court hears appeals from a variety of courts and tribunals in New South Wales, in particular the Supreme Court, the Industrial Court, the Land and Environment Court, the District Court, the Dust Diseases Tribunal, the Workers Compensation Commission, and the Government and Related Employees Appeal Tribunal.[1] The Court of Appeal must grant leave to appeal a judgment of an inferior court, before it hears the appeal proper.

If a petitioner is not satisfied with the decision made by the Court of Appeal, application may be made to the High Court of Australia for special leave to appeal the decision before the High Court. Because special leave is only granted by the High Court under certain conditions, the Court of Appeal is in effect a court of final appeal for many matters.


The Court of Appeal was established in 1965, replacing the former appellate Full Court of the New South Wales Supreme Court,[2] and commenced operations on 1 January 1966 with the appointment of the President, Sir Gordon Wallace, and six Judges of Appeal, Bernard Sugerman, Charles McLelland, Cyril Walsh, Kenneth Jacobs, Kenneth Asprey and John Holmes Dashwood. The advent of the Court of Appeal was controversial, as it introduced another order and unexpectedly uprooted the established order of hierarchy and seniority among judges of the Supreme Court.[2]

Current composition

The Court of Appeal, as of March 2024, consists of the Chief Justice of New South Wales, the President of the Court of Appeal and the judges of appeal. Apart from the Chief Justice and the President of the Court, there are nine judges of appeal with current commissions. Traditionally two of them are heads of the Common Law Division and the Equity Division, and sit full-time in those Divisions as primary judges. The Chief Judge at Common Law is currently Ian Harrison, while the Chief Judge at Equity is currently David Hammerschlag.[3] The chief judges will on occasion sit as appeal judges from time to time.

The Governor can appoint Acting Judges of Appeal. They have all rights and powers as a Judge of Appeal. There are presently two acting judges of appeal, John Griffiths and John Basten. Each sit full-time in the Court of Appeal, although will hear primary cases in the Divisions as the need arises.[3]

Name Title Term began Time in office Notes
Andrew Bell Chief Justice 7 March 2022 2 years, 73 days [4]
Julie Ward President, Court of Appeal 7 March 2022 2 years, 73 days [5]
Anthony Meagher Judge of Appeal 10 August 2011 12 years, 283 days [3]
Fabian Gleeson 29 April 2013 11 years, 20 days
Mark Leeming 3 June 2013 10 years, 351 days
Anthony Payne 30 March 2016 8 years, 50 days
Richard White 15 March 2017 7 years, 65 days
Anna Mitchelmore 28 March 2022 2 years, 52 days
Jeremy Kirk 21 April 2022 2 years, 28 days
Christine Adamson 7 December 2022 1 year, 164 days
Kristina Stern 8 June 2023 346 days
Ian Harrison Chief Judge at Common Law
9 November 2023 192 days [6]
David Hammerschlag Chief Judge in Equity 17 March 2022 2 years, 63 days [7]
John Griffiths Acting Judge of Appeal 10 April 2022 2 years, 39 days
John Basten Acting Judge of Appeal 17 April 2022 2 years, 32 days

Most judges in the Court of Appeal also sit on the Court of Criminal Appeal in varying degrees of frequency. The Chief Judge at Common Law and the Chief Judge in Equity also sit on the Court of Appeal (and the Court of Criminal Appeal) from time to time.

Presidents of the Court of Appeal

Name Appointment
Term as
Comments Notes
Sir Gordon Wallace 1 January 1966 21 January 1970 4 years, 20 days Retired
Sir Bernard Sugerman 2 January 1970 30 September 1972 2 years, 252 days Retired
Sir Kenneth Jacobs KBE 1 October 1972 7 February 1974 1 year, 129 days Appointed to the High Court
Athol Moffitt CMG 8 February 1974 25 June 1984 10 years, 138 days Retired
Michael Kirby AC CMG 24 September 1984 6 February 1996 11 years, 135 days Appointed to the High Court
Dennis Mahoney AO 19 February 1996 3 February 1997 350 days Retired.
Keith Mason AC 4 February 1997 30 May 2008 11 years, 183 days Retired
James Allsop AO 1 June 2008 28 February 2013 4 years, 272 days Appointed Chief Justice of the Federal Court
Margaret Beazley AO 1 March 2013 27 February 2019 5 years, 363 days Appointed Governor of NSW
Andrew Bell 28 February 2019 7 March 2022 3 years, 7 days Appointed Chief Justice of New South Wales [8][4]
Julie Ward 7 March 2022 2 years, 73 days [5]

See also


  1. ^ "About the Supreme Court". Supreme Court of New South Wales. New South Wales Government. 20 May 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b Kirby, M (2008). "Judicial Supersession: The Controversial Establishment of the New South Wales Court of Appeal". Sydney Law Review (30). Camperdown: Sydney Law School: 177–208.
  3. ^ a b c "Judicial officer contact details". Supreme Court of New South Wales. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  4. ^ a b "New Chief Justice of NSW". NSW Department of Communities and Justice. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  5. ^ a b "New President of the Court of Appeal". NSW Department of Communities and Justice. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  6. ^ "New Chief Judge at Common Law appointed to NSW Supreme Court". 9 November 2023. Archived from the original on 13 August 2021.
  7. ^ Speakman, M Attorney-General (16 March 2022). "New appointmenbts to strengthen Supreme Court" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  8. ^ Speakman, M (23 January 2019). "New President of the NSW Court of Appeal" (PDF). NSW Bar Association. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
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New South Wales Court of Appeal
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