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Law Society farewells Supreme Court Chief Justice

After first announcing his retirement in October last year, the Honourable Tom Bathurst has officially retired from the bench.

user iconLauren Croft 01 March 2022 Big Law
Honourable Tom Bathurst
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On Monday (28 February), in a ceremony in the Supreme Court of NSW, several notable members of the legal community paid tribute to Justice Bathurst and wished him farewell and good luck.

His honour is the 17th NSW Chief Justice and has had to deal with a number of challenges, including managing increased demand in the court system, establishing new lists for areas like child sexual abuse and the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Justice Bathurst oversaw the Supreme Court’s first Twitter account and earned the moniker “the Chief Justice Vlogger” after hosting the court’s first-ever virtual admissions ceremony in 2020. 


In announcing his departure last year, Justice Bathurst said that although his enthusiasm for the role was undiminished, he believes that it is time for the court to “be reinvigorated and a new leader to be appointed to take the court into the future”.

In announcing that his almost 11 years as leader of the Supreme Court would soon be coming to an end, Justice Bathurst said it has been “an honour and a privilege” to have the role and thanked all judges, judicial staff and registry staff for their “immense contribution” in ensuring the court provides access to justice efficiently.

In her farewell speech in the Supreme Court ceremony, immediate past president of the Law Society of NSW Juliana Warner said that she had learnt many lessons from Justice Bathurst – including the “need to listen carefully” to the softly-spoken Justice Bathurst.

“I also learned from you the importance of clarity of thought and expression. This is one of the things that made you the ‘go to’ adviser for the boards of Australia’s largest and most important companies,” she said.

“And I learned from you the importance of expressing a view and backing your judgment – we do not get paid for sitting on the fence. You would also never put a proposition or give advice that you didn’t fully believe in.

“Your honour is also kind, compassionate and generous. When the president of the Bar Association and I reached out to you last year, about the difficulties being faced by the profession during COVID with homeschooling and lack of daycare, you had no hesitation in communicating with the profession that all judges of the court were sympathetic and that practitioners should not feel concerned about seeking appropriate extensions of time. Other courts in NSW and the Federal Court then followed your honour’s lead as did some of the major regulators and this was greatly appreciated by the profession.”