Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In Sydney, where he grew up, Mason was a student at Sydney Grammar School. During World War II, Mason served in the Royal Australian Air Force, holding the rank of Flying Officer. After the war, he studied at the University of Sydney, graduating with Bachelor degrees in Arts and Law.
Mason was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1951, and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1964. For five years, Mason lectured in law at the University of Sydney, his students including two future High Court Justices, Mary Gaudron and William Gummow. Mason was the Commonwealth Solicitor-General from 1964 to 1969. During this time, he contributed greatly to the development of the Commonwealth's administrative law system.
In 1969, Mason was made a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales , where he sat as a member of the Court of Appeal . He held this position until 1972, when he was appointed to the bench of the High Court of Australia. After fifteen years on the bench, and following the retirement of Sir Harry Gibbs, Mason was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court in 1987. Mason retired from the Court in 1995.
Mason had a significant influence over the High Court. His tenure as Chief Justice can be seen as the high-water mark of the movement away from the "strict legalism" which characterised the High Court under Sir Owen Dixon. Mason was more flexible in his attitude to precedent than many other judges, viewing it more as a policy for consistency than something which would strictly coerce and constrain his decisions. During the years of the "Mason Court", there were a variety of important cases decided, including Mabo v Queensland [No.2] and Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth .
From 1996 to 1997, Mason was a Professor of legal science at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, United Kingdom. In 1997, Mason was made a non-permanent judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.
- Honorary doctorates in law from ANU, Deakin, Griffith, Melbourne, Monash, Oxford and UNSW universities.
- Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)
- Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)
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