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Working Hardly: Laughs from the Bench


Law school is pretty awesome, but sometimes it can seem a bit too serious. Here are a few hilarious comments from judges to counter those dry and dreary readings…

GUMMOW J: ...That is your position and the position of Mrs Antonio as well? You are speaking for Mrs Antonio as well?

MR ANTONIO: Yes, your Honour.

KIRBY J: Can you speak for Mrs Antonio, or has she asked you to speak for her, or would she rather speak for herself? We live in an age when sometimes wives want to speak for themselves.

–Antonio & Anor v Min for Immigration & Anor D13/1999 [2000] HCATrans 418.

MR COBDEN: I am holding in my hand one of the exhibits, MAS4 from the trial, which is a PlayStation console…

McHUGH J: What are we going to watch? A motorbike race or something?

MR COBDEN: You are going to watch a motorbike race, yes, your Honour.

GUMMOW J: A non-violent motorbike race.

MR COBDEN: Non-violent except to the extent that I have asked Mr Chalk, who is operating the console, to crash the motorcycle a couple of times to illustrate the point that we wish to make.

Stevens v Kabushiki Kaisha Sony Computer Entertainment & Ors [2005] HCATrans 30 (8 February 2005)

KIRBY J: Could you give me the page again, I am sorry.

MR JACKSON: Page 148, your Honour, in volume 1.

KIRBY J: I must be getting a bit deaf, Mr Jackson.

GUMMOW J: You are.

KIRBY J: There is no need for my colleagues to agree; sometimes it is a mercy.

Wentworth Shire Council v Berryman & Anor S125/2002 [2002] HCATrans 574 (8 November 2002)

LORD DENNING: In summertime village cricket is the delight of everyone. Nearly every village has its own cricket field where the young men play and the old men watch. In the village of Lintz in County Durham they have their own ground, where they have played these last 70 years. They tend it well. The wicket area is well rolled and mown. The outfield is kept short . . . [y]et now after these 70 years a judge of the High Court has ordered that they must not play there anymore . . . [h]e has done it at the instance of a newcomer who is no lover of cricket. This newcomer has built . . . a house on the edge of the cricket ground which four years ago was a field where cattle grazed. The animals did not mind the cricket.

Miller v. Jackson (1977) Q.B. 966, 976

KIRBY J: Mr Rout, the document you have tendered to be filed in the Court is called an electoral petition.


KIRBY J: It appears to challenge the election to the Australian Capital Territory seat of Fraser.


KIRBY J: It makes statements concerning the former Chief Justice and said that he is off with the late Mr Skase in Majorca in Spain, which is simply not the case.

MR ROUT: Yes, a little humour added there.

KIRBY J: It just has nothing to do with the case. We are very busy people, I am afraid, and you seem to be wasting our time.

Rout, An application by C4/2002 [2003] HCATrans 641.

MR SILBERT: If the Court pleases. Your Honours, I propose to address grounds 3 and 2, and to adopt enthusiastically the submissions of the second respondent in relation to ground 1.

GUMMOW J: Why would your enthusiasm help?

–Momcilovic v The Queen & Ors [2011] HCATrans 16 (9 February 2011)

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