Barend Rudolph du Plessis was born in Pretoria on 11 March 1947. He married his wife, Maria, in 1971 and the couple has five adult daughters. The couple lives in Pretoria.
Du Plessis matriculated at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, Pretoria in 1964. He studied at the University of Pretoria from 1966 to 1970 and was awarded the LLB-degree at the beginning of 1971.
After serving as a candidate attorney, Du Plessis was in 1974 admitted as an attorney of the Transvaal Provincial Division of the High Court. He practiced as an attorney for two years and was then, in 1975, admitted as an advocate. He joined the Pretoria Bar where he practiced as junior counsel until 1987 when he took silk. He practiced as senior counsel until his appointment as a judge in 1989.
In 1987 and in 1988, Du Plessis held acting appointments as a judge for respectively two months and one month. On 1 December 1989 he was permanently appointed as a judge of the Transvaal Provincial Division of the High Court, stationed in Pretoria. He still holds that appointment.
Du Plessis held acting appointments in the Labour Appeal Court and in the Constitutional Court. He also held an acting appointment in the High Court of Namibia, ad hoc for a specific case.
- For several years, Du Plessis was a member of the governing body of the Nuwe Wending School for the Mentally Handicapped.
- He also served as the honorary legal advisor to the Eastern and Northern Transvaal regional synods of the Dutch Reformed Church.
- Du Plessis was an honorary secretary of the Pretoria Association of Advocates for three years. Thereafter he was elected as a member of the Bar Council and served as such for several years until his appointment to the bench.
- He was a delegate to several annual conferences of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa, and he was the chairperson of that body’s Laws and Administration Committee. He also represented the GCB on the Rules Board for Courts.
- Since his appointment to the bench, Du Plessis has participated in several training programmes for newly appointed judges. He also delivered papers on judgment writing to international conferences hosted by the Justice College and he took part in a training seminar for magistrates in Namibia.
- Du Plessis is the project leader of the South African Law Reform Commission’s project on assisted decision making.