The Premier, Attorney-General, and the High Court of Australia all announced on 29 November 2016 the appointment of the Honourable Justice Susan Kiefel AC as the 13th Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, and the appointment of the Honourable Justice James Edelman to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Justice Robert French AC on 29 January 2017.
Justice Edelman’s appointment at the age of 42 is remarkably impressive.
He practised as a barrister at the chambers of Mr Malcolm McCusker QC in Western Australia from 2001-2011 and at One Essex Court Chambers (chambers of Lord Grabiner QC) from 2008-2011.
He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and subsequently elected as a Fellow of Keble College, Oxford where he taught from 2005, and as Professor of the Law of Obligations at the University of Oxford from 2008 until 2011.
From 2011 to 2015 he was a judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, before being appointed to the Federal Court of Australia.
He has written or edited books on equity, torts, unjust enrichment, interest awards, and damages.
Susan Kiefel’s route to the Chief Justiceship is equally noteworthy, bearing in mind that she left school at the age of 15.
Although Australian law is not binding in Bermuda or other British Overseas Territories, decisions of the High Court, the Federal Court, and States Courts are often cited in argument, and occasionally treated as highly persuasive in their reasoning, given the general quality of their judgments, and the nature of Australian jurisprudence.
It is to be expected that Chief Justice Kiefel and Mr. Justice Edelman will have at least some indirect effect on the development of Bermuda law, at some stage in the future!