Justice Andrew Bell speaks on the Judge who never sat

Justice Andrew Bell speaks on the Judge who never sat

2 years ago

St Paul’s College was thrilled to welcome back Old Pauline and recently appointed President of the NSW Court of Appeal, Justice Andrew Bell, for our annual Law Faculty Dinner, where he gave an engaging presentation on another distinguished Pauline and the only High Court appointee never to sit on the Bench, Albert Bathurst Piddington KC. 

Students and distinguished visitors were enthralled by Justice Bell’s learned address on What Albert did and What Albert did next: Albert Bathurst Piddington – the High Court Judge who never sat. 

Piddington (1862-1945) was at St Paul’s as a student in 1880-83, and was Vice-Warden in 1883-84. He was appointed to the High Court in 1913, but after a hostile and controversial response to his appointment, never sat on the High Court. He resigned a month after his appointment came into effect.

Nearly a decade later, it became public knowledge that, while being considered for appointment to the Court, Piddington had responded indirectly to an inquiry from Attorney-General William Morris Hughes about his attitude to federal power as against the States in the then-new Commonwealth of Australia.

Piddington’s remarkable career included a three-year term as a free trade Member of the New South Wales Parliament (1895-98), as Chief Commissioner of the Interstate Commission (1913-20), and as President of the NSW Industrial Commission (1927-32).

In his address on Albert Piddington, Justice Bell also referred to other Paulines who were appointed to the High Court – the Hon Sir Dudley Williams KBE MC QC, who sat on the Court from 1940 to 1958, and fellow Rhodes Scholar, the Hon Dyson Heydon AC QC, who sat on the Court from 2003 to 2013, and who was in attendance at the dinner. 

A copy of Justice Bell’s address is available here

Reflecting the College’s strong association with the legal fraternity, other distinguished guests at the Law Faculty Dinner included the Dean of the Law School, Professor Simon Bronitt (who is resident at St Paul’s in Graduate House), a number of Supreme Court judges, and various other legal academics and members of the legal profession – all of whom we were delighted to welcome.

The College is grateful to the student convenors, Jacob Lerner, Jake Slaytor, Oscar Pursey and Adam Kadmon, for the work they did in ensuring the Law Faculty Dinner was a success.

Pictured above: Justice Bell speaks on Albert Bathurst Piddington, the High Court Judge who never sat