Leading Indian origin Sydney barrister Hament Dhanji SC has been appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.

The information was shared by Australia's High Commissioner to India, Barry O'Farrell AO's on his official Twitter handle. Congratulating Dhanji on the achievement, he stated that starting legal practice in 1990, Dhanji has a legal experience of more than 30 years. 

Attorney General Mark Speakman said Mr Dhanji brings three decades of legal experience to the Supreme Court bench.

“I congratulate Mr Dhanji, whose ascension follows an accomplished career specialising in criminal law, appearing in various jurisdictions Australia wide,” Mr Speakman said.

Mr Dhanji will become the first Australian of Indian descent to serve on the NSW Supreme Court bench, having been admitted as a legal practitioner in 1990. He was called to the Bar in 1997 and took silk in 2010.

As a barrister in private practice at Forbes Chambers, he has appeared as lead counsel in a number of important cases in the High Court and has appeared in approximately 350 cases in the Court of Criminal Appeal. Mr Dhanji has also appeared regularly in criminal trials and sentence proceedings, including in complex corporate crime matters.

Mr Dhanji has conducted prosecutions on behalf of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, appeared as counsel assisting the coroner and represented clients before the Police Integrity Commission and the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

After completing his HSC at Meadowbank Boys High School, Mr Dhanji was awarded Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts degrees by the University of Sydney before beginning his career as a solicitor for Legal Aid NSW.

“Mr Dhanji has maintained a strong professional connection with Legal Aid NSW throughout his career by continuing to provide legal services to people who are socially and economically disadvantaged,” Mr Speakman said.

Mr Dhanji, who will begin the role on 20 September, replaces the Honourable Justice Robert Beech-Jones, who on 31 August was elevated to Chief Judge of the Common Law Division of the Supreme Court and a Judge of Appeal.

In his new role, the (soon to be Justice) Dhanji, who is of Gujarati background, will have opportunity to ensure that the diverse community will be increasingly represented at the highest levels of the industry. Even though the profession is improving in this respect, with the NSW Law Society championing important social justice issues more actively and the number of female professionals entering the industry continuing to rise, court cases continue to play out under only a small number of judges of colour. As Australian society sees a greater shift towards multiculturalism and more inclusive ways of thinking, the chance to see this reflected in our public legal system is something Mr. Dhanji responds to positively.