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Issued: Friday, 22 June 2018
I was saddened to learn of the passing last night of one of NSW's most respected jurists, Sir Laurence Street.
Sir Laurence Street was a giant of the law in NSW. He leaves an indelible legacy in both criminal and civil jurisdictions. In 1965, after service with the Royal Australian Navy in World War II and a successful career at the Bar, he rose to the Supreme Court bench. In 1974, he became the State's second youngest Chief Justice, at the age of 47.
In 1986, while Chief Justice, Sir Laurence (with then Attorney General Terry Sheehan) established the Australian Disputes Centre (as it is now known), a huge boost to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in Australia. This has become a model for access to justice, helping those wishing to resolve legal matters without resorting to formal and often expensive legal action.
For long after his retirement in 1988 from the Supreme Court, Sir Laurence continued his valuable contribution in ADR as one of the leading mediators in the country. In 2007, he conducted the first mediation over the return to Australia of Aboriginal human remains held by the Natural History Museum in London.
Sir Laurence also conducted a number of enquiries on behalf of the NSW and Commonwealth governments.
The Street name is synonymous with legal high office in NSW during with 20th century, with three successive generations occupying the position of Chief Justice and Lieutenant Governor. In addition to possessing a razor-sharp legal mind, Sir Laurence was renowned for his fairness and integrity. He will be greatly missed.
The NSW Government will extend the offer of a State Funeral to Sir Laurence's family.