Consensus rose after new union commissoner Dyson Heydon left High Court: study

The consensus level among High Court judges rose after the Abbott government's new royal commissioner left , a study has found.

Dyson Heydon, known as a ''great dissenter'', retired from the bench last March and was appointed on Monday by the Abbott government to head an inquiry into financial irregularities in trade unions.

His departure from the court corresponded with a sharp rise in the proportion of cases decided unanimously, from 13 per cent in 2012 to 38 per cent last year. The proportion of cases in which a judge dissented from the view of the majority fell from 33 per cent to 25 per cent last year, according to annual statistics compiled by the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law.

The authors of the research, University of NSW law professors Andrew Lynch and George Williams, said Mr Heydon's retirement ''removed the sole source of persistent dissent from the court'' in recent years.

Michaela Whitbourn

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