Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Stephen Gageler named as new High Court Chief Justice

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus have appointed the 14th Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and have named a new justice to the bench.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 22 August 2023 The Bar
expand image

Justice Stephen Gageler AC is set to become the Chief Justice of the High Court following the retirement of Chief Justice Susan Kiefel AC.

As reported by Lawyers Weekly in mid-June, Kiefel CJ – the first woman to be appointed as High Court Chief Justice – will be retiring before the constitutionally mandated age of 70. Her Honour will depart the court on 5 November.

Shortly after the announcement, the legal profession paid tribute to the outgoing CJ, labelling Her Honour an “outstanding jurist” and “exceptional leader”.


Gageler J – a Commonwealth Solicitor-General – has, the PM and A-G proclaimed in a statement, “an outstanding reputation as a jurist”.

“He is highly respected for his leadership abilities and deep knowledge and understanding of constitutional law. Justice Gageler is currently the most senior puisne justice of the High Court. He has served on the High Court with distinction since 2012,” the PM and A-G detailed.

His Honour was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of NSW in 1989 and was appointed senior counsel in 2000.

Prime Minister Albanese and Attorney-General Dreyfus have also appointed Justice Robert Beech-Jones to the High Court.

Justice Beech-Jones’ appointment fills the vacancy created by Gageler J’s promotion to chief justice.

His Honour has served on the Supreme Court of NSW since 2012 and was – two years ago – appointed Chief Judge of the common law division of the NSW Supreme Court and a judge of appeal.

Beech-Jones J was admitted as a barrister in the Supreme Court of NSW in 1992 and was appointed senior counsel in 2006.

The PM and A-G also acknowledged and thanked Kiefel CJ for her “exceptional service” in leading the High Court since 2017, as justice of the High Court since 2007, and as a former justice of the Federal Court of Australia, Supreme Court of Queensland and Supreme Court of Norfolk Island.

“On behalf of the government and the Australian people, we congratulate Justice Gageler and Justice Beech-Jones on their appointments, and wish Chief Justice Kiefel all the very best for the future,” the pair noted.

The government consulted “extensively” in the lead-up to this decision, the statement noted, including with all state and territory Attorneys-General, the shadow attorney-general, the heads of the federal courts and state and territory supreme courts, state and territory bar associations and law societies, National Legal Aid, Australian Women Lawyers, the National Association of Community Legal Centres, and deans of law schools across the country.

The new Chief Justice and justice were, the PM and A-G said, “strongly supported” in the consultation process for the roles.

The appointments will take effect on 6 November 2023.

The Supreme Court of NSW “warmly” welcomed the announcement: “Both judges are universally admired and respected for their outstanding legal ability, the quality of their judgments, their integrity and humility, and strong sense of public service.”