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Vale Sir Laurence Whistler Street AC KCMG KStJ (1926-2018)

Please see attached Vale for the passing of Sir Laurence Street. For convenience, the text is reproduced in this post without references.

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The Australian Dispute Resolution Association (ADRA) joins with the ADR Community in paying tribute to Sir Laurence Street.

On 22 June 2018 The Sydney Morning Herald published the following tributes:

‘Former High Court judge Michael Kirby paid tribute to Sir Laurence as "a great Australian lawyer" who contributed to the country during Navy service in World War II, next as a barrister, judge, Chief Justice and then, after retiring from the bench, in mediation and alternative dispute resolution’.

‘Offering the family a state funeral, Attorney General Mark Speakman called Sir Laurence "a giant of the law in NSW" who left an indelible legacy in both criminal and civil jurisdictions.’

Sir Laurence Whistler Street AC KCMG, QC was born on 3 July 1926 and was educated at Cranbrook School, Bellevue Hill and when 17, enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve as an Ordinary Seaman. He was promoted to Midshipman (1944-45), Sub-Lieutenant (1945-47) and served overseas in the latter stages of World War II. After the war he attended the University of Sydney where he graduated in 1950 with honours in Law. During his years as a law student he was Associate to Sir William Owen, who was then a Judge of the Supreme Court and who later became a Justice of the High Court of Australia.

Admitted to the NSW Bar on 9 February 1951, Sir Laurence Street established a large practice, particularly in equity, commercial law and admiralty, taking silk in 1963. On 29 November 1965 he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court and in 1972 he became a Judge of Appeal and Chief Judge in Equity. Following the resignation of Sir John Kerr, he was appointed Chief Justice of NSW on 28 June 1974 and shortly afterwards became Lieutenant-Governor. Sir Laurence was a Companion of the Order of Australia, a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, a Knight of St John and a Grand Officer of Merit of the Order of Malta. He was bestowed three Honorary Doctorates in Law and an Honorary Doctorate in Economics from Australian Universities. He was a Commander of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve for most of his career and was made an Honorary Commodore in his final years. While Chief Justice, Sir Laurence with the then premier Barrie Unsworth and Attorney-General Terry Sheahan created the Judicial Commission of NSW.

Following his retirement from the judiciary at age 62, Sir Laurence became renowned as a pioneer of alternative dispute resolution, notably conducting the first mediation over the returning to Australia of Aboriginal Australian human remains held by the National History Museum in London in 2007. He was associated with a number of leading Australian and international mediation organisations and was the Convener and Chairman of the inaugural planning committee of the Australian Commercial Disputes Centre (now the Australian Disputes Centre) with the then Attorney-General Terry Sheahan (now Justice Sheahan of the Land and Environment Court of NSW). The ACDC was established to introduce non-adversarial dispute resolution processes into Australia.

Sir Laurence was not only an eminent jurist, he was a leader in the development of ADR in Australia and globally. His dedication to the practice of ADR saw Australia at the forefront of the introduction and institutionalisation of mediation. From 1989, he worked as a commercial mediator and an alternative dispute resolution consultant. This work included 2,500 mediations and negotiations as well as arbitrations and expert determinations mainly involving major commercial disputes. He was a frequent speaker and the author of numerous articles on mediation and dispute resolution.

He was a distinguished jurist and alternative dispute resolution practitioner. He was a champion of change and a champion for ADR. He is a great loss to the ADR community.

Australian Dispute Resolution Association

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