The Hon Dennis Cowdroy AO KC

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Mr Cowdroy accepts appointments to act as mediator or arbitrator in a range of disputes throughout Australia and internationally.

Mr Cowdroy was a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia until he retired in 2014. At that time he also held Commissions as an additional Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, Presidential Member of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Judge-Advocate of the Australian Defence Force, and Member of Defence Force Disciplinary Appeals Tribunal.

Mr Cowdroy has decided numerous precedent cases, such as Roadshow Films v Iinet, and has had all of his appealed decisions upheld by the High Court. Mr Cowdroy’s career began as a solicitor in 1967, and he was called to the Bar in 1971. During his time as a barrister, Mr Cowdroy was briefed by private firms and numerous government agencies (both Commonwealth and State) to appear in a wide variety of matters including international arbitration. He appeared in numerous cases which set precedents such as Mudginberri Station v AMIEU (industrial), and Amann Aviation v the Commonwealth (consumer and trade practices law, contract law). In 1989 he was appointed Queens Counsel.

Mr Cowdroy’s judicial career commenced in 1996 when he was appointed an Acting Judge of the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Other appointments as an Acting Judge followed. On 1 July 1999, Mr Cowdroy was appointed a Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. On 13 March 2006, Mr Cowdroy was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia until his retirement from that Court on 14 March 2014.

As a result of his lengthy judicial career, Mr Cowdroy has experience in virtually every aspect of legal practice.

In 1995 Mr Cowdroy was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to Returned and Services League of Australia, the community and the practice of law.

In 2019 Mr Cowdroy was awarded Officer in the Order of Australia, General Division, for distinguished service to the law, and to the judiciary in the civilian and military spheres, through a range of senior roles.


  • Bachelor of Laws, University of Sydney
  • Master of Laws, Kings College, University of London
  • Diploma of Air and Space Law, London
  • Nationally Accredited Mediator
  • Grade 1 Arbitrator

Current appointments

  • Acting New South Wales District Court Judge
  • Chairman of the Australian Electoral Commission
  • Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Commonwealth)
  • Appellate Member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
  • Accredited Mediator (ACDC)
  • National Trustee, Returned and Services League of Australia
  • Member of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) Panel of Arbitrators

Past appointments

  • Judge of the Federal Court of Australia (2006 – 2014)
  • Additional/Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory (2006 – 2017)
  • Judge Advocate of the Australian Defence Force (2011 – 2017)
  • Section 154 Defence Force Discipline Act Reviewer (2011 – 2019)
  • Presidential Member, Administrative Appeals Tribunal (2012 – 2014)
  • Member, Defence Force Disciplinary Appeal Tribunal (2011 – 2014)
  • Judge of the Land & Environment Court of New South Wales (1998 – 2006)
  • Member, NSW ANZAC Advisory Council (2014 – 2018)


To enquire about briefing a member of 12 Wentworth Selborne, or for all other enquiries, please contact the Clerk