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Master of the Supreme Court, District Court judge appointed in WA

For the first time, a woman has been appointed as Master of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, with a senior counsel being appointed to fill the subsequent vacancy on the District Court.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 04 December 2023 The Bar
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WA District Court judge Sarah Russell has been promoted to master of the state’s Supreme Court, a role she will assume on 29 January 2024.

Her Honour joins the Supreme Court after serving as a judge of the WA District Court for almost four years, and becomes the first woman to be appointed a master of the state’s Supreme Court. She takes over from long-serving Master Craig Sanderson, who resigned mid-year, and Acting Master and Supreme Court Principal Registrar Kate McDonald, the Attorney-General’s department noted in a statement.

Russell J worked as a lawyer in England prior to moving to Australia in 2003. She has worked as a senior associate at two national firms, and joined the WA Bar and worked as a barrister from 2010.


Speaking about the appointment, WA A-G John Quigley said: “I congratulate Sarah Russell on her appointment as a Master of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.”

“Judge Russell is highly regarded in the legal profession on the back of 25 years as a legal practitioner, and almost four years of judicial service. She was an experienced barrister appearing and advising as counsel on multiple commercial, corporate and civil matters, before her appointment to the judiciary,” he said.

“Having served as a District Court judge with distinction, she has the credentials to enhance the Supreme Court’s capacity to preside over complex matters and a significant caseload. I also take this opportunity to thank Kate McDonald for her outstanding work as Acting Master this year, and for her enormous contribution to the work of the Supreme Court, which she will continue as the principal registrar.”

Filling Russell J’s seat on the District Court will be Matthew Curwood SC, who is set to become a judge of that court.

Mr Curwood assumes his new role on 13 December.

He was admitted in 1993, and spent the first 20 years of his legal career as a solicitor with two private firms, before working as a barrister for the last 10 years, practising primarily in wills and estates, equity and trusts, commercial matters, and legal costs. He took silk three years ago, and is on the board of directors for Francis Burt Chambers.

A-G Quigley said: “I welcome Matthew Curwood to the panel of judges of the District Court of Western Australia. He has extensive experience as a legal practitioner and is highly respected in the profession.”

“In addition to his distinguished career, he was the chairperson of the Legal Costs Committee, a statutory committee that determines levels of remuneration for legal practitioners in WA. Judge Curwood will help bolster the District Court bench as it continues to tackle a large workload,” the A-G outlined.

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