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Sir Daryl Dawson

Sir Daryl Dawson

Early Life and Education

Sir Daryl Dawson was born on 12th December 1933 in Melbourne. His father’s name was Claude Dawson, a renowned journalist, and his mother’s name was Elizabeth. After completion of his secondary education at Canberra High School, he wanted to undergo law courses. He completed his Bachelor of Laws from Ormond College with honours. He studied at the University of Melbourne. Later, he completed his Master of Laws at Yale University.


During his life time, Dawson received many awards and honors. He was made companion of the order of the Bath in 1980. He became a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1982. He also received an Australia's highest civilian honour named Companion of the Order of Australia in 1986. In 2006, Monash University offered an honorary Doctor of Laws.

Judicial Career

In 1957, he was admitted to the Victorian Bar. Later, he was also admitted to the Tasmanian Bar in 1972. The year 1960, witnessed him as a commander of the Royal Australian Navy's legal service in Melbourne. In 1971, he was appointed as a Queen's Counsel. As the Solicitor-General of Victoria, he served eight years (from 1974 to 1982).

In his judicial career, he exhibited tremendous talents. From 1974 to 1984 he was a member of the Australian Motor Sport Appeal Court, and was the chairman of this court in 1987. As a chief justice of the High Court of Australia, Dawson held a position until 15 August 1997. For his judicial decision in the case of Mabo v. Queensland as well as Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd v Amadio, he was named as dissenting Dawson, as his nickname. As a talented judge, Dawson also dissented in Australian Capital Television v Commonwealth.

As a non-permanent judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, he served six years from 1997 to 2003. In 1998, he was appointed as a director and chairman of the Menzies Foundation.  Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor at Monash University and a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. In spite of all his judicial activities, he is also involved in many other social activities. He headed a Royal Commission for enquiring into the Longford Gas Explosion at Longford in 1998.

In addition, at the University of Melbourne, he occasionally adjudicates mooting competitions.  He was a member of the Victorian Bar Council and many of its committees. In 1972, he became an external member of the Law Faculty and engaged in various curriculum reviews. He has served as a chairman and member of Ormond College Council.

In the field of justice, law and administration, his has shown tremendous contribution to Australia. Especially, in commercial and constitutional law, his contribution can never be undermined. He appeared in various high profile cases and enquiries. His decisions are always based on reason and free from emotions. For his in-depth knowledge in law and jurisprudence, he decides the cases with an efficient manner.

The Dams Case and the Mabo Case are the bright examples of his talent. In his entire career, he always focuses on the principles of law. His contribution to the administration of justice has tremendous impact on Australia. As a member of faculty board, he has contribution for both undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

He also engaged in research and development for comparative constitutional studies. He was also a member and Chairman of the Australian Motor Sport Appeal Court for many years. As a Director and Chairman of the Menzies Foundation, he brought out many positive changes in it. In all these capacities, he has left no stone unturned. He always tries to mark his lasting contribution on Australian law and constitution.

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