The Federation Press

Jesting Pilate

And Other Papers and Addresses by The Rt Hon Sir Owen Dixon


Although it is now ninety years since he was first appointed to the High Court and fifty five years since he retired as Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon remains the towering figure in Australian jurisprudence. He is widely viewed as our greatest and most influential judge. While Dixon’s judgments continue to be cited by courts and debated by scholars, his extra-judicial writings have been more difficult to obtain and having accordingly received less attention. The publication of this new expanded edition of Jesting Pilate will help redress the balance, bringing as it does less studied aspects of Dixon’s expansive and worldly intellect to the fore again.

In addition to reorganising the original papers, the Editors have enlarged the collection significantly by including two previously unpublished addresses by Sir Owen Dixon, as well as two papers by Dixon’s former associate and friend James Merralls AM QC which provide important context about Dixon’s life and work. Additionally insight into Dixon’s legacy is provided by the inclusion of important papers by each of the editors. Finally, the speech delivered by Sir Ninian Stephen on the 100th anniversary of Dixon’s birth is included, as is a new Foreword by the Hon Susan Kiefel, Chief Justice of Australia.

Table of Contents

Foreword by the Hon Susan Kiefel AC, Chief Justice of Australia
Publisher's Acknowledgments


Address by Sir Ninian Stephen
Sir Owen Dixon: The Communist Party Case, Then and Now
The Hon Susan Crennan AC

The Rt Hon Sir Owen Dixon, OM, GCMG, 1886-1972
James Merralls

Sir Owen Dixon
SEK Hulme

The Library of Sir Owen Dixon
James Merralls

Sir Owen Dixon Today
The Hon William Gummow AC

(A) Dixon in the Wider World

Jesting Pilate
International Relations
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Roosevelt and Hopkins
The Hon Mr Felix Frankfurter – A Tribute from Australia

(B) Judicial Methods

Concerning Judicial Method
Science and Judicial Proceedings
The Law and the Scientific Expert
The Survival of Causes of Action
The Development of the Law of Homicide
A Legacy of Hadfield, M’Naghten and Maclean

(C) Constitutionalism

The Law and the Constitution
The Statute of Westminster 1931
The Common Law as an Ultimate Constitutional Foundation
De Facto Officers

(D) Comparative Federalism

Two Constitutions Compared
The Separation of Powers in the Australian Constitution
Government under the American Constitution
Aspects of Australian Federalism
Sources of Legal Authority
Marshall and the Australian Constitution

(E) The Professions

University Education in a Scientific Civilisation
The Teaching of Classics and the Law
Two Portraits
Professional Conduct
The Profession of Accountancy

(F) From the Bench

Note on the last four papers
Address on Taking Office as Chief Justice of the High Court
Address on First Presiding as Chief Justice at Melbourne
Address on First Presiding as Chief Justice at Perth
Address on Retiring from Office of Chief Justice

Table of Cases


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