John Pascoe

John Henry Pascoe is a former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and Deputy Chancellor of the University of New South Wales.

Background and career

Pascoe was raised in and, the only child of a grazier and a mother with interests in the mining industry. He studied Asian languages and philosophy at the Australian National University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1969 and Bachelor of Laws in 1971.
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Pascoe was the Chairman and CEO of George Weston Foods, Chairman of Centrelink, Deputy Chairman of Aristocrat Leisure Limited and managing director of the Insurance and Risk Management Division of Phillips Fox. He has also held positions on several other corporate boards, such as Qantas. Pascoe was a member of the board of directors of the International Award Foundation and in 2016 he was awarded a Gold Distinguished Service Medal. Previously he has held positions on the boards of the Cancer Council of New South Wales, the Sydney Opera House Trust, and the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children.
Pascoe's appointment as Chief Judge has been widely applauded as a result of the significant management skills that he has brought to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, which continues to be the most rapidly expanding court in Australia. The Federal Circuit Court is the largest federal court in Australia. In December 2015, Pascoe was appointed as the Australian delegate to The Hague working group considering an international surrogacy convention.


John was appointed as National Chair of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award – Australia and as an International Trustee of the Award from 1998 to 2006.


In 2002 Pascoe was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to business and commerce, to children's health, particularly the needs and rights of patients and their families, to the Children's Hospital at Westmead, and to youth training, nationally and internationally, through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. Pascoe was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the 2010 New Year Honours for his services to the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award and in January 2016 was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the law and to the judiciary, through support for improved access to the justice system for Indigenous peoples, to legal administration and higher education, and as an advocate for the prevention of international trafficking of children.