Supreme Court

The Honourable Sir Laurence Whistler Street, KCMG, AC

Fourteenth Chief Justice of NSW
28 June 1974 - 1 November 1988

Sir Laurence Street, a son of Sir Kenneth Street, was born in Sydney on 3 July 1926. He was educated at Cranbrook School, Bellevue Hill and, when 17, enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve as an Ordinary Seaman. He was promoted Midshipman (1944-45), Sub-Lieutenant (1945-47) and served overseas in the latter stages of the second World War.

He went to the University of Sydney where he graduated with honours in Law in 1950. 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, LW Street established a large practice, particularly in equity, commercial law and admiralty. In 1952 he married Susan Gai Watt and the couple had two sons and two daughters. He later married Penelope Patricia Ferguson and had another daughter.

He was a member of the Public Accountants Registration Board and of the Companies Auditors Board; he held rank as Commander and was the Senior Officer of the RAN Reserve Legal Branch; he lectured in Procedure and Bankruptcy at the Law School of the University of Sydney for several years, and he was President of the Sydney University Law Graduates Association. Subsequent to his appointment to the Bench his activities included holding office as President of the Courts-Martial Appeal Tribunal and President of the Cranbrook School Council.

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. He has been appointed KCMG and K St J. He retired on 1 November 1988.

Three generations of the Street family have occupied the position of Chief Justice of NSW during the 20th century. Sir Laurence Street's distinguished career began as a legal practitioner, specialising in equity, commercial law and admiralty. In November 1965 he was appointed a Judge of Appeal and Chief Judge in Equity. Following his appointment as Chief Justice of NSW in 1974, Sir Laurence became Lieutenant-Governor of NSW, as had his father and grandfather before him.