Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 22/07/1959 - 01/11/1974
Judge in Admiralty, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 1960 - 01/11/1974
Judge in Commercial Causes, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 1966 - 1972
Lecturer, Law Faculty, University of Sydney, 1939 - 1940, 1945 - 1959
Bruce Panton MacFarlan was born on 14 May 1910 at Glebe Point, Sydney, New South Wales, the son of Alfred Ingram MacFarlan and his wife Annie nee Watson. He was educated at Cranbrook School and the University of Sydney (BA 1932, LLB Honours Class I 1935). In 1934 he shared with AJF Eastman the George and Matilda Harris Scholarship No.II for their third year law results. In 1935 he won the John George Dalley Prize for the most distinguished student graduating in the Faculty of Law. In 1933-34 he was a member of the Students' Representative Council and also the Law representative to the Sydney University Undergraduates' Association. (1)
MacFarlan was admitted to the NSW Bar on 30 July 1936. He practised out of 184 Phillip Street, Sydney, 142 Phillip Street (1943-1945), and 182 Phillips Street (1949-1959). Working primarily in Common Law and Equity, he also had a significant appellate practice in constitutional and commercial law, appearing in the High Court of Australia on many occasions. Made a Queen's Counsel in 1952, he was admitted to the Queensland Bar on 16 February 1959 and to the Victorian Bar. (2)
From 1940 MacFarlan saw service in the Royal Australian Air Force in a senior administrative post. He had previously served in the Sydney University Regiment. Upon his discharge on 20 February 1945, he was a Wing Commander at Headquarters Western Area. He was made an Officer (Military) of the Order of the British Empire on 13 October 1944 for his service in the RAAF as Senior Air Staff Officer of the North Eastern Area. On 7 September 1943 he was injured in the crash of Catalina A24-52 at Townsville, Queensland. Out of the nineteen RAAF passengers and crew on board, thirteen died. (3)
MacFarlan was active in legal education and professional development. He was Lecturer in Probate Law and Practice at the University of Sydney in 1939-1940 and 1945-1946. In addition he was Lecturer in Bankruptcy Law and Practice from 1945-46 till 1951. From 1946 till 1959 he was editor of the Commonwealth Law Report, editing Volumes 70 to 99. He was a Council member of the NSW Bar Association in 1945/46 and from 1953/54 to 1955/56 and from 1957/58 to 1959/60, holding the offices of vice-president in 1957/58 and president from 1958/59 to 1959/60. (4)
MacFarlan was appointed to the Supreme Court of New South Wales as a Puisne Judge on 22 July 1959. By 1960 he was one of the two Judges in Admiralty. He was the Judge in Commercial Causes from 1966 until 1972 when the position appears to have ceased. By 1971 he was the sole Judge in Admiralty, a position he occupied until his retirement from the Supreme Court on 1 November 1974. (5)
MacFarlan was president of the Court Martial Appeals Tribunal from 1957 to at least 1965. He was also president of the Musica Viva Society. (6)
MacFarlan died at Sydney on 6 May 1978, survived by his wife Barbara nee Scott whom he married on 17 June 1941, and one son and two daughters. In 1978 his family established the Bruce Panton MacFarlan Prize at the University of Sydney in his memory for proficiency in Advanced Corporate Law. (7)
1. Who's Who in Australia, Melbourne, The Herald, 1955, p.493; 1959, p.509; 1962, p.542; 1965, p.543; NSW marriage certificate 1839/1904 Alfred I MacFarlan and Annie E Watson; Australian Law Journal, Vol.52, pp.402-3 (July 1978); University of Sydney Calendar, 1928, p.749; 1929, pp.531, 533, 536, 757; 1930, pp.565, 788; 1931, pp.505-7, 562; 1932, pp.521, 626, 740; 1933, pp.522, 750, 827, 904; 1934, pp.405, 529-30, 765; 1935, pp.443, 542, 677; 1936, p.923, http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php cited 12 and 27 May and 31 October 2008.
2. Barrister and Solicitors Admission Boards; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 17 February 1927 - 10 June 1955; Reel 2147, p.11; New South Wales Law Almanac, 1937, p.77; 1938, p.71; 1943, p.70; 1945, p.65; 1946, p.65; 1949, p.67; Australian Law Journal, Sydney, Vol.33, pp.216-7 (24 September 1959); Vol.52, pp.402-3 (July 1978); Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.
3. 'MacFarlan, Bruce Panton', Department of Veterans Affairs World War 2 Nominal Roll http://www.ww2roll.gov.au/script/veteran.asp?ServiceID=R&VeteranID=1056099 cited 27 October 2008; National Archives of Australia: B1535, Army Headquarters, Department of Defence [II] Correspondence files, multiple number series; [736/19/34] 'Application for commission, Sydney University Regiment, B P Macfarlan', http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/ItemDetail.asp?M=0&B=377145 cited 6 November 2008; It's an honour website http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au cited 23 January 2008; 'Australian War Memorial - Honours and awards (gazetted) Bruce Panton McFarlan (sic)', http://www.awm.gov.au/honours/honours/person.asp?p=260105 cited 27 October 2008; Australian Law Journal, Vol.52, pp.402-3 (July 1978); '7 September 1943 - Crash of a Catalina at Townsville', http://www.ozatwar.com/ozcrashes/qld190.htm cited 6 November 2008.
4. Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1940, pp.446, 599; 1941, p.408; 1945-1946, pp.242, 244; 1947, p.309; 1951, p.340 cited 27 May and 19 June 2008; Australian Law Journal, Vol.52, p.402 (July 1978); New South Wales Law Almanac, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1946, p.55; 1954, p.65; 1955, p.67; 1956, p.68; 1958, p.68; 1959, p.68; 1960, p.69.
5. State Reports New South Wales, Sydney, Law Book Company Ltd, Vol.59, p.x (1959); Vol.60, p.iii (1960); Vol.61, p.iii (1961); Vol.63, p.iii (1963); Vol.64, p.iv (1963-64); Vol.65, p.v (1964-65); Vol.66, p.v (1965-66); New South Wales Law Reports, Sydney, Law Book Company Ltd, 1971, Vol.1., p.vii; 1973, Vol.1, p.vii; 1974, Vol.1, p.xxii; Australian Law Journal, op.cit.
6. Who's Who in Australia, op.cit..
7. Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 1978, p.16; Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; University of Sydney Calendar, 1982, p.419, http://www.calendararchive.usyd.edu.au./Calendar/1982/PDF/1982%20-%20041... cited 6 November 2008.