By Alan Gregory
21 August 2022
The Honourable Robert Clive Tadgell AO, 15 March 1934 – 14 July 2022.
The death of Clive Tadgell at age 88 has brought universal sorrow. The Honourable Robert Clive Tadgell AO – Justice of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court, Chancellor of the Diocese of Melbourne, was simply Clive Tadgell at St George’s Malvern, a regular and much loved parishioner.
Clive’s contribution to the law, the church and the community has been extraordinary. A man of the highest standards he brought these qualities to everything he did.
Born in 1934, he was educated first at Brighton Grammar school then Wesley College where his grandfather and father had been. It was a time when he enjoyed the headmastership of Wilfred Frederick, and teachers of the quality of AW Mitchell and Tosh Phillips who instilled in him a love of the English language, for which he was ever grateful. He left school in fifth form (now year 11), but only after being persuaded to spend an extra year. He subsequently completed his matriculation at Taylors College and did well enough to gain a Menzies Commonwealth Scholarship. He studied law at the University of Melbourne. In his own words, “Miraculously, a study of the law and I harmonised”. He did well and completed his degree with honours. He gained the Robert Craig Exhibition in Company Law and the Jenks Exhibition in Private International Law. He also became a resident in Trinity College. As a debater he won the President’s Medal for Oratory.
Alan Archibald QC writes of Clive’s legal career:
“Clive developed an outstanding practice at the Victorian Bar, particularly in corporate law and equity. He was much in demand for his incisive advocacy and sage opinions. He became Queen’s Counsel in 1974 and was elevated to the Victorian Supreme Court in 1980. He became an inaugural member of the Court of Appeal when it was established in 1995. He was regarded as having one of the best legal minds on that strong court, and made a major contribution to its work until his retirement in 2001.”
He brought his legal talents to the church serving five archbishops as Chancellor of the Diocese of Melbourne from 1982 to 2007, chairman of the Archbishop of Melbourne’s Constitution Commission from 2002 to 2005 and vice-president and president of the Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia, deciding some difficult matters.
He was also active in his support for Trinity College being elected a Fellow in 2013, was involved in the Medico-Legal Society (president 1990-1991), served on the Council of Monash University from 1981 to 1995, and on the councils of Melbourne Grammar and Geelong Grammar schools. He was also an enthusiastic member of the Prayer Book Society.
He was also Visiting Scholar to Oriel College Oxford in 2001 to 2002.
Clive was awarded the Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 2005 for services to the judiciary and law, and to the community through contributions to the Anglican Church and higher education.
In a tribute to his father he published the book Saluting the Amaryllis in 2016 which is an excellent read.
Clive was always great company. He had a sharp mind, he was rigorous in argument and had a great sense of humour.
A great family man, he enjoyed a wonderful family life with Christina – they shared so much together – and two magnificent sons in Hamish and Malcolm, who have inherited his sense of service. He greatly enjoyed too his three grandchildren.
Clive is remembered at St George’s, Malvern as a man of faith, a worker for the church and a man of great wisdom. His personal motto was “Aim high, think ahead and never give up”.
To Clive, to aim high meant “If you expect to achieve excellence you will tend not to be satisfied with less”.
To aim high you must think ahead. He said: “Time and again in the courts I saw academically bright and otherwise capable lawyers caught flat-footed because they failed to exercise the common sense to think ahead”.
To aim high and think ahead you also need to be able to communicate. Here to Clive was the importance of good language.