State Funeral Details - The Right Honourable Sir Ninian Martin Stephen KG, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, Cmdr Légion d’Honneur, QC, Hon LL D (Syd, Melb), D Univ (Griffith), Hon D Litt (WA)


The State Funeral is at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Corner of Swanston & Flinders Streets Melbourne on Wednesday 8 November 2017 at 11 am. The State Funeral notice in Saturday’s Age did not call for RSVP, nor has it been possible to arrange seating for the Bar. We are therefore covered by the general direction: 9:30 am doors open; seating in order of arrival to capacity; all to be seated by 10:15 am.

Bar Roll no: 478

It is with deep regret that the Bar Council informs members of the death on Sunday 29 October 2017 of The Right Honourable Sir Ninian Stephen. Sir Ninian was 94 (born Oxfordshire, England 15 June 1923).

He was educated at various schools in Scotland, London and Switzerland, and at Scotch College, Melbourne. He served Long Articles at Arthur Robinson & Co (now Allens Linklaters) with George Forrest Davies, attending lectures at the University of Melbourne early morning and late afternoon. He interrupted his course at the end of his first year, 1941 and served in the 2nd AIF in New Guinea, New Britain and Borneo.

On discharge in 1946, he returned, completed his course, and was admitted to practice in March 1949. He later completed the balance of subjects for the LL B. He remained at Arthur Robinson & Co as a Solicitor until he came to the Bar, signing the Roll in March 1952. He read with Douglas Little (later the Honourable Sir Douglas Little of the Supreme Court of Victoria). He had ten Readers: Brian Shaw, Garth Buckner, Adrian Smithers, Charles Coppel, John Batt, John Monahan, Neil Brown, Tim Smith, Bill Gillard and Peter Murley. He took Silk in December 1966. He specialised in Equity, Company and Constitutional Law. He was a member of the Victorian Bar Council for 9 years. Other service included as a Director of the Melbourne Bar Pty Ltd and of Barfund Pty Ltd (Bar Superannuation Fund); and a Bar appointee on the Supreme Court Board of Examiners.

He served as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria 1970-72; as a Justice of the High Court of Australia 1972-82; and as Governor-General of Australia 1982-89. He then served as Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment; chaired, over a period of 18 months, the complex political mediation in Northern Ireland that led to the Good Friday Accords; laid the foundation for the work of the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague and chaired its hearings; mediated for the Commonwealth in Bangladesh; led missions for the UN Secretary-General to Cambodia, and for the International Labour Organisation to Burma; and served on the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee.