New South Wales Court of Appeal
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; 151.211628Coordinates: 33°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 72
Chief Justice of New South Wales
CurrentlyJustice Tom Bathurst AC
Since1 June 2011 (2011-06-01)
President of the Court of Appeal
CurrentlyJustice Andrew Bell SC
Since28 February 2019 (2019-02-28)

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 February 2020, 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 eleven judges of appeal with current commissions. Two of them are heads of the Common Law Division and the Equity Division, and sit full-time in those Divisions as primary judges. They are Justice Hoeben and Justice Ward. Justice Hoeben is Chief Judge at Common Law,[3] Justice Ward is Chief Judge in Equity.[3] Hoeben and Ward 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, Arthur Emmett and Carolyn Simpson. Each sit full-time in the Court of Appeal, although will hear primary cases in the Division as the need arises.[3]

Former Acting Judges of Appeal include Murray Tobias, Ronald Sackville, who was a former Federal Court Judge and is now a Royal Commissioner, and Reginald Barrett.

Name Title Term began Time in office
Tom Bathurst AC Chief Justice [4] 1 June 2011 10 years, 171 days
Andrew Bell President, Court of Appeal [5] 28 February 2019 2 years, 264 days
Clifton Hoeben AM, RFD Judge of Appeal 23 April 2012 9 years, 210 days
Chief Judge at Common Law 21 February 2013 8 years, 271 days
Julie Ward Judge of Appeal 12 November 2012 9 years, 7 days
Chief Judge in Equity 15 March 2017 4 years, 249 days
John Basten Judge of Appeal[3] 2 May 2005 16 years, 201 days
Robert Macfarlan 8 September 2008 13 years, 72 days
Anthony Meagher 10 August 2011 10 years, 101 days
Fabian Gleeson 29 April 2013 8 years, 204 days
Mark Leeming 3 June 2013 8 years, 169 days
Anthony Payne 30 March 2016 5 years, 234 days
Richard White 15 March 2017 4 years, 249 days
Paul Brereton AM, RFD 22 August 2018 16 years, 201 days
Lucy McCallum 30 January 2019 2 years, 293 days
Reginald Barrett Acting Judge of Appeal 16 March 2016 5 years, 248 days
Arthur Emmett 7 March 2013 8 years, 257 days
Carolyn Simpson 30 March 2018 3 years, 234 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, Justice Hoeben, and the Chief Judge in Equity, Justice Ward, 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
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 [6] 28 February 2019 2 years, 264 days

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. Camperdown: Sydney Law School (30): 177–208.
  3. ^ a b c d "Judicial officer contact details". Supreme Court of New South Wales. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  4. ^ Patty, A (13 May 2011). "Tom Bathurst appointed NSW Chief Justice". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  5. ^ NSW Department of Justice (23 January 2019). "New President of the NSW Court of Appeal". Justice NSW. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  6. ^ Speakman, M (23 January 2019). "New President of the NSW Court of Appeal" (PDF). NSW Bar Association. Retrieved 23 January 2019.