Noel Hutley
Friday, November 13, 2015
Justinian in NSW Bar Association, Noel Hutley, On the Couch

Freshly elected president of the NSW bar is on the couch ... Steeped in the law ... Barrister to his bootstraps ... Reading, films, music, food, regrets and refrigeration all covered ... Have we spelled his name correctly? 

Prez Hutley

Noel Hutley is the new president of the NSW bar association. He led the Stability, or Pro-Press Release, ticket that romped to victory last week over the Neutrals, or conservative, ticket. 

Background details about Hutley are sketchy, which suggest that he too could be conservative, but not as conservative as Neutral conservatives, such David Bennett of Jeffrey Phillips. 

Hutley was born in 1955 and very quickly afterwards sailed onto the University of Sydney (Arts Law). He arrived at the bar straight after taking a law degree at Cambridge in 1981. The silk gown was bestowed in 1996.

Seventeen years later he signed onto the bar council and a year later was senior vice. He has also served as the NSW bar's rep on the Australian Bar Associatuon, which is mad about press releases - everything from anti-terror legislation, the citizenship laws, to the death penalty and the Carmichael mine. 

Where's Margaret Cunneen when you need someone to stop the rot? 

In recent courtroom stoushes, Hutley has been in Gina Rinehart's corner on the trust dispute with her children and trying to unstitch coal czar Travers Duncan's problems with ICAC. 

Hutley is the son of the late Justice Francis Charles Hutley, one of the court of appeal's memorable figures. This means young Noel spent a gilded youth hanging out in Mosman and Mt Wilson in the Blue Mountains. 

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Frank Hutley used to "indulge his delight in gardening, and to participate in acrimonious disputes among the local residents (including Dr Charles Currey) at meetings of the Mount Wilson Progress Association". 

Anyway, most members of the bar heaved a sigh of relief that Hutley and other stable people are running the shop. To everyone's amazement he agreed to navigate Justinian's searching questions.  

Describe yourself in three words.

Concerned about this. 

What are you currently reading? 

"The Hundred Years War: Trial by Battle", by Jonathan Sumption. 

What's your favourite film?

"Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." 

Who has been the most influential person in your life? 

My father. 

When were you happiest? 

When my children were born. 

What is your favourite piece of music?

Most things by Bruce Springsteen. 

What is in your refrigerator? 

What my children require. 

What is your favourite website? 


Who would you most like to be stranded with on a desert island? 

A boat owner. 

What is on your bedside table?

A light. 

Why law, and not another worthwhile pursuit in life? 

Originally because medicine was too much like hard work and thereafter because it is the last legal blood sport.

If you weren't a barrister what would you most like to be doing? 

Studying to become a barrister. 

What was the most important opportunity you didn't take? 

To learn the piano. 

What are the big issues for the NSW bar with which you'll have to grapple? 

Attracting more work to the bar and the state of legal aid in the criminal sphere. 

Hutley, right, off to court for Gina RinehartWhat has been your most memorable case? 

Kavalee v Burbidge 43 NSWLR 422. See also Hyland v Burbidge [2000] NSWSC 12. 

If you were on death row, what would you request for your last meal?  

Ice cream. 

If you were a foodstuff, what would you be?

Ice cream. 

Who do you most admire professionally?

Barristers undertaking criminal, family law and migration cases. 

On what occasions would you use a breath-freshener?

When meeting a High Court judge. 

What would you change about Australia?

Precious little and quite a bit. 

What would your epitaph say?

As of today I would be content if my name was spelt correctly. 

What comes into your mind when you shut your eyes and think of the word "law"? 


Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (
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