Chancellor of the University of Sydney Belinda Hutchinson AM conferred the Honorary Doctorate on Chief Justice Bathurst at a ceremony at the University on Friday 7 June.
“Chief Justice Bathurst is a distinguished graduate of the University, a fine lawyer, the leader of his profession in this State, a leading citizen of this State, its Lieutenant-Governor and its most senior judicial officer,” the Chancellor said.
An alumnus of the University (BA ‘69 and LLB ‘72), Chief Justice Bathurst began his career as a barrister in 1977 and became a Queen’s Counsel a decade later. In 2011, after being endorsed by the then-Attorney General Greg Smith SC, he was appointed Chief Justice of New South Wales.
At the ceremony, Acting Head of School and Dean of the University of Sydney Law School Professor Cameron Stewart summarised Chief Justice Bathurst’s achievements and acknowledged his contributions to the legal profession and wider community.
“His commitment to excellence as a judge, presiding over sittings both in the Court of Appeal and the Court of Criminal Appeal, is well recognised in the profession. Less well known or remarked is his commitment to improving the standing of the judiciary in the community and promoting diversity among the judiciary,” Professor Stewart said.
An expert in commercial and corporations law, Chief Justice Bathurst is a past President of the Australian Bar Association and President of the New South Wales Bar Association.
As a barrister, his notable cases include Seven Limited v News Limited & Ors and ASIC’s case against the directors of James Hardie. Some of his high-profile cases have become the source of subsequent pieces of reforming legislation.
On diversity, Chief Justice Bathurst has promoted more female appointments to the bench including directly from the solicitor’s branch of the profession and is quoted as looking to achieving greater ethnic diversity on the bench in his time as Chief Justice.
He has also held several workshops for the media, the community and politicians in an endeavour to explain judicial decision making, especially about sentencing, and he has encouraged his fellow judges to notify summaries of their judgments on Twitter. He also regularly delivers lectures.
In June 2014, Chief Justice Bathurst was appointed as a Companion in the Order of Australia for eminent service to the judiciary and to the law, to the development of the legal profession, particularly through the implementation of uniform national rules of conduct and to the community of NSW. He has also been Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales since 2012.
The University of Sydney has awarded an honorary doctorate to the Right Honourable Helen Clark ONZ, the first elected female Prime Minister of New Zealand and the first woman to head the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).