Censor, Pacific Cable office,01/01/1915 - 31/12/1915
Manager, Red Cross Information Bureau, Sydney, 01/09/1915 - 30/04/1919
Acting Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 19/04/1919 - 31/12/1919
Acting Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 01/06/1922 - 29/10/1922
Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, 30/10/1922 - 27/08/1933
Judge in Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 05/12/1923 - 27/08/1933
Chairman, Commonwealth Royal Commission on Performing Rights, 19/10/1932 - 24/04/1933
Arbitrator, re Migrant Land Settlement between the State of Victoria and Commonwealth of Australia, 18/12/1933 - 21/12/1933.
Langer Meade Loftus Owen was born on 27 August 1862 at Redfern, Sydney, the second son of William Owen and Elizabeth Charlotte nee Carey. His father became a Supreme Court Judge in 1887. Langer Owen was educated by W J Stephens at the New School, Darlinghurst, and in England at the Charterhouse (1877-1881) and at New College, Oxford University (BA 1886). He was admitted to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn on 13 June 1888. On 5 September 1888, Owen married Mary Louisa Dames nee Longworth, at Athlone, Westmeath, Ireland. (1)
Returning to Sydney, Owen was admitted to the NSW Bar on 30 March 1889. He practised mainly in the equity and bankruptcy jurisdictions. Owen's appointment as a King's Counsel was approved by the Executive Council on 6 February 1906. He was a foundation member of the Council of the Bar Association of New South Wales from July 1896 to its demise on 9 June 1902. He was also a councillor of its successor, the Council of the Bar of New South Wales, from 1909/10 to 1914/15. (2)
At the beginning of World War I, Owen gave up his practice to work for the war. He was censor in charge of the Pacific cable office for 12 months. Owen established and conducted the Red Cross Information Bureau at Sydney. Organised, staffed and financed by members of the legal profession, the Bureau sought information about sick, wounded and missing soldiers, death and burial details for those killed in action, and made arrangements for food parcels for prisoners of war. The Sydney office operated from September 1915 to April 1919. The Owen family were deeply involved with the Red Cross during the war. Mary Louisa Owen was a vice-president of the New South Wales foundation committee and a tireless worker for sick and wounded soldiers until her death on 30 November 1917, and their daughter Gladys was joint honorary secretary of the Red Cross from 1914 to 1927. Their son, William Francis Langer Owen enlisted on 31 December 1915, serving with the Australian Imperial Forces and later the Australian Flying Corp. Langer Owen was made a Commander (Civil) of the Order of the British Empire on 4 October 1918 for his services to the Red Cross in New South Wales during the war. (3)
Owen's association with the Supreme Court of New South Wales began in 1919. He was appointed an Acting Judge in every jurisdiction for a period of six months from 19 April 1919. In October 1919 this was extended from 19 October to 31 December 1919. In 1922 he was again appointed an Acting Judge in all jurisdictions of the Supreme Court for six months from 1 June 1922. However on 30 October 1922 he was permanently appointed a Puisne Judge. On 5 December 1923 he was made Judge to exercise the Matrimonial Causes jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. He took retiring leave in 1932 and retired on 27 August 1933. (4)
Langer Owen was Chairman of the Royal Commission on Performing Rights conducted by the Commonwealth of Australia between 23 September 1932 and 24 April 1933. The Commission was established by Letters Patent of 19 September and 10 November 1932. It was to inquire into, and report upon, the exploitation of performing rights and, by default, the role of the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA). Although his report commended the Association and the way it collected and distributed payments to authors, composers, publishers and others, Owen questioned its monopoly role including its ability to set its own terms. He recommended that a Tribunal should be set up to compulsorily arbitrate between APRA and organisations of music users. Although the Federal government did not implement this recommendation, the Copyright law was changed to enable the voluntary arbitration of disputes. Owen was made a Knight Bachelor on 1 January 1934 for his work as Chairman of the Performing Rights Commission. Between 18 and 21 December 1933 he arbitrated between the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria on the question of the Commonwealth's contribution to compensation to be paid to English migrants following the Royal Commission on Migrant Land Settlement. After his retirement from the Supreme Court, Owen took an active role in the League for the Suppression of Bribery, as president. (5)
On 25 August 1925 Owen married his second wife, Hilda Margaret Chapman, at Toorak, Melbourne. He died at his Bellevue Hill home on 25 January 1935, survived by his second wife and his two daughters and his son, William Francis Langer Owen, who like his father and grandfather became a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. (6)
1. 'Owen, Sir Langer Meade Loftus (1862-1935), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110695b.htm (cited 17 March 2008); Fred Johns, Who's Who in the Commonwealth of Australia, 1922, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1922, p.211; Fred Johns, Who's Who in Australasia, 1927-8, Adelaide, the Author, 1927, p.198; Barristers Admission Board; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 1876-1926; Reel 2147, p.5.
2. Barristers Admission Board, op.cit.; Attorney General's Department [III]; NRS 333, Letters received - Special Bundles, 1874-1984; [10/42918] Correspondence re appointment of King's Counsels, 1898-1941; New South Wales Government Gazette, No.77, 9 February 1906, p.970; Fred Johns, op.cit., 1927, p.198; JM Bennett (ed), A History of the New South Wales Bar, Sydney, Law Book Company Ltd and NSW Bar Association, 1969, pp.140-144; 'Bar Councillors 1902-2006', New South Wales Bar Association, http://www.nswbar.asn.au/docs/about/history/bclist1902_1910.php and http://www.nswbar.asn.au/docs/about/history/bclist1910_1920.php (cited 23 January 2008).
3. ADB, op.cit.; JM Bennett (ed), op.cit., pp.151-153; Fred Johns, 1922, op.cit.; It's an honour website http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au (cited 23 January 2008).
4. NSW Government Gazette, No.77, 11 April 1919, p.2113; No.245, 24 October 1919, p.5734; No.88, 2 June 1922, p.3138; No.151, 27 October 1922, p.5744; No.151, 7 December 1923, p.5698; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1933, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1933, p.28; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1934, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1933, p.29.
5. 'National Archives of Australia - Agency notes for agency CA 2449', http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/AgencyDetail.asp?M=3&B=CA+2449 (cited 17 March 2008); Hon Justice Kevin Lindgren, 'Copyright and Trade Mark Law - recent developments in Australia...' a lecture to the Anglo-Australian Lawyers Society (UK Branch), 18 September 2002, http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/aboutct/judges_papers (cited 17 March 2008), It's an honour website, op.cit.; National Archives of Australia - Primary description of item 98938', http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/ItemDetail.asp?M=0&B=98938 (cited 14 April 2008); Australian Law Journal, Vol.8, p.390.
6. ADB, op.cit.