Acting Judge, Supreme Court of NSW, 28/07/1924 - 27/01/1925
Acting Judge, Supreme Court of NSW, Equity Jurisdiction, 06/05/1936 - 01/08/1936
Acting Judge, Supreme Court of NSW, 02/08/1936 - 31/03/1937
Member, New South Wales Barristers Admission Board, 1939 - 1941
President, Law Council of Australia, 1941 - 1945
David Maughan was born on 5 February 1873 at Paddington, Sydney, the son of John Maughan and his wife Bertha Windeyer nee Thompson. He was educated at the King's School, Parramatta, where he won the Broughton and Forrest Exhibition, a scholarship given to ex-students of King's School who qualify to attend Oxford or Cambridge University. He attended Balliol College, University of Oxford, from 1891 to 1895, graduating with a BA 1895 and Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) First class in 1896. He tutored in law at Balliol in 1896. In 1906 his BA was recognised 'ad eundem gradua' by the University of Sydney. In 1912 he graduated from Oxford University with an MA and BCL. This was recognised by the University of Sydney as an MA and LLB in 1914.(1)
Maughan was called to the Bar of Lincoln's Inn on 17 June 1896. After returning to Sydney, he was called to the Bar of New South Wales on 16 November 1896. At first he specialised in equity cases, but he became expert in constitutional law. His appointment as a King's Counsel was recommended by the Executive Council on 29 October 1919. (2)
Maughan was active in legal professional organisations. He was a member of the Council of the Bar of New South Wales from 1913/14 to 1918/19 and in 1935/36. He was a member of the NSW Bar Association from its incorporation in 1936 until 1942/43. He was Vice-president from 1940/41 to 1942/43. Maughan was a member of the NSW Barristers Admission Board from 1939 to 1941. He was President of the Law Council of Australia from 1941 to 1945. (3)
Maughan acted as a Supreme Court Judge on a number of occasions. In 1924 he acted in all jurisdictions of the Court for six months, beginning on 28 July. In 1936 he acted in the Equitable jurisdiction from 6 May 1936 to 1 August 1936 inclusive; and in all jurisdictions from 2 August to 31 March 1937. (4)
Maughan took an active role in constitutional matters. He opposed moves in 1930 by the Premier of New South Wales, J T Lang, to abolish the Legislative Council. When the Council passed Lang's bills to abolish itself, Maughan obtained a Supreme Court decision that the bills needed approval from a referendum of the people. He was a counsel in appeals to the High Court of Australia and Privy Council in 1932 over the Legislative Council and to the Privy Council in 1934 over a mechanism to settle deadlocks between the houses of Parliament. Maughan publically opposed the Administration of Justice Bill in 1931 which would have amalgamated the two branches of the legal profession. He also opposed Australia's adoption of the Statute of Westminster, 1931. This Act, passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, gave legislative independence from the United Kingdom to the self-governing dominions of the British Empire, but only if they adopted the Act. Australia did not adopt it until 1942 and then only to clarify government war powers. Maughan was a strong supporter of civil and State's rights and during World War II opposed increasing governmental controls such as the National Security Act. He appeared before the High Court in important Constitutional cases such as the uniform tax case in 1942 and airlines case in 1945. (5)
Maughan's publications included 'Constitutional Revision in Australia' (1944), a publication of four lectures given at the Winter Forum Series of the Australian Institute of Political Science held in Sydney 5 to 26 July 1944, 'The Statute of Westminster' (1932) and 'The Statute of Westminster' (1939), the latter was a reprint of a paper read at the fourth convention of the Law Council of Australia, July 1939.
Maughan was active both in sport and in the community. He was a mountaineer, walker and surfer. From the 1920s to the 1950s, he was president of the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales, vice-president of the New South Wales Rowing Association, and vice-president of the New South Wales Rugby Union. In the 1920s and 1930s he was vice-president of the King's School Old Boys Union and chairman of Directors of the University Club, Sydney. In the 1930s he was a member of the Council of King's School, chairman of the Oxford Society (NSW Branch), chairman of the Free Library Movement, a Councillor of the Big Brother Movement and a Director of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and from 1933 to 1941 president of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (New South Wales Branch). He was knighted in 1951 for his public service. (6)
Maughan married Jean Alice Barton on 30 March 1909 at Darling Point. Jean was the daughter of Sir Edmund Barton. Maughan died on 3 November 1955 at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, survived by his wife, son and daughter. (7)
1. Anthony Fisher, 'Maughan, Sir David (1873-1955), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.edu.au/biogs/A100443b.htm (cited 11 January 2008); Fred Johns, Who's Who in Commonwealth of Australia, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1922, pp.188-89; 1927-8, p.178; 1933, p.223; 1935, p.329; 1938, p.354; 1941, p.473; 1944, p.582; 1947, p.588; 1950, pp.491-92; 1955, p.532; The Balliol College Register, published 1934, Google Book Search, http://books.google.com.au/books?id=yG1JAAAAMAAJ&q=maughan+david+oxford&dq=maughan+david+oxford&1r=&pgis=1 (cited 21 April 2008); University of Sydney Calendar, 1906, p.338; 1915, p.567 http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php (cited 21 April 2008).
2. Barristers Admission Board; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 1876-1926; Reel 2147, p.10; New South Wales Government Gazette, No.253, 7 November 1919, p.6096; Attorney General's Department [III]; NRS 333, Letters received - Special Bundles, 1874-1984; [10/42918] Correspondence re appointment of King's Counsels, 1898-1941.
3. 'Bar Councillors 1902-2006', New South Wales Bar Association, http://www.nsw.bar.asn.au/docs/about/history/bclist1910_1920.php (cited 22 January 2008); New South Wales Law Almanac, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, various, 1936, p.58; 1937, p.59; 1938, pp.58-9; 1939, pp.58-9; 1940, pp.60-61; 1941, p.60-61; 1942, pp.60-61, 1943, p.60; 'Law Council of Australia - Law Council Past Presidents', http://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/pastpres.html (cited 21 April 2008).
4. State Reports New South Wales, Sydney, Law Book Company of Australasia Pty Ltd, Vol.24 (1924), Vol.36 (1936), Vol.37 (1937); NSW Government Gazette, No.96, 25 July, 1924, p.3696; No.79, 8 May 1936, p.1862; No.114, 17 July 1936, p.2972; No.193, 27 November 1936, p.4877; No.9, 22 January 1937, p.290.
5. ADB, op.cit.; 'Statute of Westminster 1931', Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statute_of_Westminster_1931 (cited 21 April 2008).
6. Fred Johns, Who's Who in the Commonwealth of Australia, op.cit; ADB, op.cit.
7. ADB, ibid.