The Honorable Chief Justice Anthony Roy Gubbay was born in Manchester, England, on April 26, 1932, but has made Zimbabwe his home for most of his life. He earned his BA degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and his M.A. and his L.L.M. degrees from Cambridge University. He was admitted to practice law June 6, 1957. Two years later, he was one of a team of advocates that challenged the detentions without trial of 100 members of the former African National Congress.
He served as president of the Matabeleland and Midlands Valuations Boards, as national president of the Special Court for Income Tax Appeals, the Fiscal Court and Patents Tribunal and the vice-chairman of the Bar Association.
In 1977, he was sworn in as a judge of the High Court where he established a reputation for fairness and wisdom, and served as acting Chief Justice five times before being appointed to that prestigious position in 1990.
Under his direction, the Supreme Court struck down a substantial body of legislation and administrative action the justices considered to be in violation of fundamental protections and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In an influential paper entitled “Independence of the Judiciary and Judicial Accountability: The Latimer House Guidelines” Justice Gubbay declared: “What is required of a judicial officer is the rendering of an honest and balanced opinion based on the law and facts. This task is far from simple. It demands wisdom as well as knowledge, conscience as well as insight, sense of balance and proportion, and if not absolute freedom from bias and prejudice, at least the ability to detect and discount such feelings so that they do not becloud the fairness of the judgment. Clearly these necessary qualities will be endangered substantially unless Judges are protected from political, economic and other influences.
Further, he said judges must protect and enforce the rule of law and “resist any encroachment by governments and political parties against their independence.”
The Chief Justice persisted in doing just that despite tremendous political pressure and even threats of bodily harm.
The recipient of many honors, Justice Gubbay is an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, United Kingdom, Patron of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges Association, and a member of the Permanent Court Of Arbitration, of the International Law Association Committee on Human Rights Law and Practice and of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute.
He has been married since 1958 to Wilma Sanger, and they have two sons.