Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 07/06/1928 - 07/10/1945
Commissioner, Royal Commission on Greyhound Racing and Fruit Machines, 08/06/1932 - 31/10/1932
Commissioner, Royal Commission on matters concerning the promotion and operation of certain companies in New South Wales, 08/08/1934 - 10/01/1935
Commissioner, Royal Commission of inquiry into charges of fraud and corruption in connection with the sale of State industrial undertakings, 14/12/1937 - 01/03/1938
Commissioner, Commonwealth Royal Commission to inquire into circumstances under which certain public monies were used and to whom and for what purposes such funds were paid, 27/09/1941 - 21/11/1941
Challis Lecturer in Legal Interpretation, University of Sydney, 1919 - 1921
Fellow of Senate of University of Sydney, November 1929 - 01/12/1941
Deputy Chancellor of University of Sydney, November 1934 - 06/12/1936
Chancellor of University of Sydney, 07/12/1936 - 01/12/1941
Sir Percival Halse Rogers was born on 1 August 1883 at Gunnedah, New South Wales, the son of the Reverend William Halse Rogers and his wife Elizabeth nee Widger. He was educated at Newington College, Stanmore, Sydney, from 1896 to 1900, St Andrew's College at the University of Sydney (1902 to 1905, BA Honours 1905) and Worcester College at the University of Oxford (Bachelor of Civil Law 1908). He attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar from 1905 to 1908, the second scholar chosen for New South Wales. (1)
Rogers was an award winning student. At Newington he was Dux of the school in 1900 and played rugby in the First XV and cricket in the Second XI. He won the Wigram Allen Scholarship in 1899 and 1900 and the Schofield Scholarship in 1900. In 1899 he shared with JF Stephen and John Paterson the University of Sydney Junior Prize for proficiency amongst male candidates at the Junior Public Examinations. He matriculated in November 1901 with Honours in Latin, French, Greek and Mathematics. At University he won the 1903 Coutts Scholarship awarded by St Andrew's College. He shared with RG Henderson both the 1903 Cooper Scholarship No.III for proficiency in First Year Classics and the 1904 Cooper Scholarship No.I for proficiency in Second Year Classics. He also shared with RD Henderson and P Hope the Gordon Scholarships for 1903 and 1904 issued by St Andrew's College. Also in 1904 he shared the Wood History Prize with J Paterson. He completed his Bachelor of Arts course in 1904 with Honours in Greek (Class I), History (Class I) and Latin (Class II) and had entered Third Year Law at Sydney when he was chosen in April 1905 as a Rhodes Scholar, allowing him to attend Oxford for three years. Rogers was also active in student organisations. These included the Sydney University Undergraduates' Association (Arts representative 1904, committee member 1905) and the Sydney University Union (Honorary Secretary 1904/05). (2)
After his return to Sydney, Rogers joined the New South Wales public service on 15 December 1908 as a temporary clerk in the Crown Law Office. On 1 February 1910 he was appointed an Associate to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Sir William Portus Cullen. Although he was called to the New South Wales Bar on 9 March 1911, he remained Cullen's Associate till at least 30 June 1912 and appears to have started his practise in late 1912. He practised out of Wentworth Court and Denham Chambers, mainly in the Common Law. He was appointed a King's Counsel on 26 October 1926. (3)
Rogers was active in legal professional development and education. He was a member of the Council of the Bar of New South Wales from 1924/25 to 1925/26 and in 1927/28. He was the co-author, with W Tighe and DS Edwards of 'The Workmen's Compensation Act (1916 no.71): together with rules, regulations and forms...' (Sydney, 1917) and 'The Law relating to compensation for injuries to workmen ...' (Sydney, 1918). He was Challis Lecturer in Legal Interpretation at the University of Sydney from 1919 to 1921. A fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney from November 1929, he was Deputy Chancellor from November 1934 till elected Chancellor on 7 December 1936. He represented the University at the 1937 Congress of the Universities of the British Empire held at Cambridge. At the Senate meeting held on 1 December 1941, he resigned as Chancellor and as a Fellow, along with other Fellows CGW Davidson and Sir John Peden, over a Senate decision to make permanent appointments during the war thus excluding eligible candidates who were in the armed forces. (4)
Rogers was made a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 7 June 1928. Until his death he sat primarily in the Common Law jurisdiction: in the Court of Criminal Appeal and the Commercial Causes Court. After his death the Solicitor-General, Cecil Edward Weigall, referred to the 'quickness of his intellect, his capacity to grasp at the outset the salient points in a complicated case, his sound common sense....' (5) However, Rogers' most quoted remarks were delivered on 22 June 1942 in the Sydney Divorce Court when he held that 'the word bloody is so common in modern parlance that it is not regarded as swearing'. (6)
Rogers was chairman of four Royal Commissions, for both the New South Wales and the Commonwealth Governments, three of which focused on alleged government corruption. For 'The Royal Commission on Greyhound Racing and Fruit Machines', Rogers was commissioned on 8 June 1932 to report on whether corruption influenced greyhound racing legislation in New South Wales, how the Gaming and Betting Act 1912-31 was administered re greyhound racing, who got licences or permits and how, and whether corruption or tax evasion was involved. Secondly how and why fruit or jackpot machines were installed in hotels and hospitals, despite an initial ban, whether corruption was involved, and who profited from the machines. Rogers reported on 31 October 1932 and found irregularities in both greyhound racing and fruit machines. He questioned the truthfulness of witnesses and highlighted the falsification and mutilation of financial and business records. The Commission revealed a widespread belief that bribery was necessary to get things done. (7)
'The Royal Commission on matters concerning the promotion and operation of certain companies in New South Wales' was commissioned by Letters Patent on 8 August 1934. Rogers issued two reports, the first on 1 November 1934 and the second on 10 January 1935. He was initially asked to look at the promotion and operation of two companies: the Investment Executive Trust of New Zealand Limited and the Southern British National Trust, whether they should be wound up, and what changes were needed to company law to protect investors. Rogers found that they were not genuine investment trusts and that the companies and their invested capital were exploited by JWS McArthur and others for their own ends. The second report dealt with other companies directly or indirectly controlled by McArthur. While Rogers outlined three possible ways to preserve the companies' assets for the investors, he also argued that the Southern British National Trust should be liquidated if the New Zealand authorities liquidated the Investment Executive Trust. He proposed amendments to New South Wales company law to protect investors from fraudulent investment trusts, by regulating the issue of debentures and prospectuses, that companies incorporated outside New South Wales answer to the same requirements as those incorporated in New South Wales, and that the English law prohibiting directors with bad financial records be adopted in New South Wales.(8)
'The Royal Commission of inquiry into charges of fraud and corruption in connection with the sale of State industrial undertakings' was commissioned on 14 December 1937 and Rogers reported on 1 March 1938. It was set up following allegations by JT Lang, NSW Leader of the Opposition, of fraud and corruption in the sale of the State Monier Pipe and Reinforced Concrete Works, the State Brickworks, and the State Metal Quarries. Rogers found no evidence of fraud or corruption by any member of the Government in relation to the sales. (9)
For the Commonwealth government, Rogers conducted the 'Royal Commission to inquire into circumstances under which certain public monies were used and to whom and for what purposes such funds were paid', known as the Secret Funds Royal Commission. Letters Patent were issued on 27 September 1941 and re-issued on 7 October 1941, mainly due to the change of Government. It asked how and why public monies were used for the activities of The Australian Democratic Front, and why Joseph Winkler was paid 300 pounds and what he did with it. Also whether there was any disclosure on 12 and 13 September 1941 by trunk line telephone of the Government's Budget and financial proposals and what certain newspapers who published stories in the following week knew of the telephone calls. Winkler, an ex-journalist, was Assistant Publicity Officer in the Prime Minister's Department and as such acted as an intermediary in certain transactions under instruction from Acting Prime Minister Arthur McFadden and Attorney General Billy Hughes. Rogers reported on 21 November 1941. He found that 4,995 pounds was paid into a special account from which 4,942 pounds was spent on a campaign conducted by the Front to counter Communist influence among trade unions. This included 300 pounds paid to the President of the Miners Federation, Charles Nelson, to counter communism in the Miners Union but there was no evidence as to what Nelson did with the money. Rogers also found that there was no evidence of a leak of budget information from the Prime Minister's office. (10)
Rogers was active in the community. He was a director of the Sydney Hospital (1930-1945), Chairman of the Metropolitan Hospitals Contribution Fund, a member of the executive committee of the Fairbridge Farm Schools of New South Wales, a member of the Council of Newington College and Chairman of Ascham School. (11)
Rogers was made a Knight Commander Civil of the Order of the British Empire on 8 June 1938 for his services as a Supreme Court Judge. In 2002 Newington College established the Halse Rogers Scholarships based on the idea of the all-round student as personified by the Rhodes Scholar. The first scholarship was offered in 2003. (12)
Rogers died suddenly on 7 October 1945 at Sydney, survived by his wife Lady Mabel Mary Halse Rogers nee Jones and their two daughters. They had married on 22 December 1911 at Randwick. (13)
1. Who's Who in Australia, Melbourne, The Herald, 1933/34, p.269; 1935, p.403; 1938, p.438; 1941, p.314; 1944, p.706; JM Bennett, 'Rogers, Sir Percival Halse (1883-1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol.11, 1891-1939, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1988, pp.442-3; Australian Law Journal, Vol.19, p.188 (19 October 1945); Newington College, Black and White [newsletter], 12 February 2003, p.2, http://www.newingtoncollege.nsw.edu.au/_userfiles/pdf/newsletter/black-white/2003/BW030212.pdf (cited 9 December 2008); University of Sydney Calendar, 1905, pp.278-9; 1906, pp.223-4, 395, 407, http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php (cited 12 May 2008).
2. Newington College, Black and White, op.cit.; University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1902, pp.216, 232-3, 305, 322; 1903, pp.201, 245-6, 248-251; 322, 338; 1904, pp.224, 249-251, 322, 338, 391; 1905, pp.225, 278-9, 337, 353, 417, 427; 1906, pp.223-4, 395, 407, cited 18 March, 12 May 2008.
3. New South Wales Legislative Assembly, Public Service Lists, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1910, p.46; 1911, p.46; 1912, p.48; JM Bennett, op.cit.; New South Wales Law Almanac, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1912, p.32; 1913, pp.36, 62; 1921, p.69; 1927, p.72; Barristers Admission Board; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 1876-1926; Reel 2147, p.18; Attorney General's Department [III]; NRS 333, Letters received - Special Bundles, 1874-1984; [10/42918] Correspondence re appointment of King's Counsels, 1898-1941; NSW Government Gazette, No.140, 29 October 1926, p.4578.
4. 'Bar Councillors 1920-1930', New South Wales Bar Association, http://www.nswbar.asn.au/docs/about/history/bclist1920_1930.php (cited 9 December 2008); Libraries Australia, http://librariesaustralia.nla.gov.au/apps/kss (cited 5 December 2008); Thomas Bavin (ed.), Jubilee Book of the Law School of the University of Sydney 1890-1940, Sydney, Halstead Press, 1940, pp.15, 17; University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1920, p.683; 1921, p.316; 1937, p.1012; 1942, pp.536, 538, (cited 12 and 27 May 2008); 'Address: Supreme Court Judges' Dinner - Supreme Court: Lawlink NSW', Hon J P Slattery 1 February 2007, http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/Supreme_Court/ll_sc.nsf.pages/SCO_jpslatteryaoqc010207 (cited 19 May 2008).
5. New South Wales Government Gazette, No.75, 8 June 1928, p.2860; State Reports New South Wales, Vol.28 (1928), n.p.; Vol.45 (1945), n.p.
6. Ashley Montague, The Anatomy of Swearing, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, p.269, http://books.google.com/books?id=QERsPn0nN-YC&pg=PA269&dq=halse+rogers&lr= (cited 5 December 2008).
7. D H Borchardt, Checklist of Royal Commissions Select Committees of Parliament and Boards of Inquiry, Part IV New South Wales 1855-1960, Bundoora, La Trobe University Library, 1975, p.309; 'Archives Investigator Agency Detail Agency 5136', http://investigator.records.nsw.gov.au/Entity.aspx?Path=\Agency\5136 (cited 10 December 2008).
8. D H Borchardt, op.cit., p.315; State Records NSW, 'Archives Investigator Agency Detail Agency 5098', http://investigator.records.nsw.gov.au/Entity.aspx?Path=\Agency\5098 (cited 10 December 2008).
9. D H Borchardt, op.cit., pp.321-2; State Records NSW, 'Archives Investigator Agency Detail Agency 5198', http://investigator.records.nsw.gov.au/Entity.aspx?Path=\Agency\5198 (cited 10 December 2008).
10. Paul Hasluck, The Government and The People, 1939-1941, Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Series 4: Civil, Vol.1, Canberra, Australian War Memorial, 1952 (1965 reprint), pp.614-5, http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/histories/30/chapters/23.pdf (cited 5 December 2008); National Archives of Australia - Agency notes for Agency CA 7531', http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/AgencyDetail.asp?M=3&B=CA+7531 (cited 8 May 2008); 'Papers of William Morris Hughes - MS1538', National Library of Australia, http://nla.gov.au/nla.ms-ms1538 (cited 13 December 2007).
11. Who's Who in Australia, op.cit; Newington College, Black and White [newsletter], 12 February 2003, p.2, op.cit.
12. It's an honour website http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au (cited 23 January 2008); Newington College, Black and White [newsletter], 12 February 2003, p.2, op.cit.
13. JM Bennett, op.cit.; Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.