Perspectives on the High Court’s decision in Thorne v Kennedy

Date & time

6–7pm Wednesday 16 May 2018


Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Road, The Australian National University


Professor Pauline Ridge, ANU College of Law
Mr Dilan Thampapillai, ANU College of Law


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.


Nicole Harman
LLM Conversation Series
Event speakers

The High Court’s recent decision in Thorne v Kennedy raises difficult and troubling questions about the doctrine of unconscionable conduct. Thorne involved a dispute over a pre-nuptial agreement between a 67 year old multimillionaire and his much younger bride. Thorne is one of the few unconscionable conduct cases to feature a dispute between a member of the global elite and a member of the global poor.

The decision represents a significant shift in the direction of unconscionable conduct doctrine. Scholars such as Bigwood have characterised the High Court’s decision in Kakavas v Crown Melbourne Pty Ltd as limiting the doctrine to ‘nakedly exploitative’ conduct, but after Thorne it is now unclear as to whether the doctrine now applies to conduct that falls somewhat short of that standard. The doctrinal retreat that began with ACCC v CG Berbatis Pty Ltd appears to have ended. Yet, in its wake troubling questions have now emerged. Is the doctrine one that relies upon archetypes to justify its outcomes thereby distorting the true nature of the parties’ relationships? Should the doctrine make some accommodation for pre-existing substantive inequality? How can Thorne now be synthesized with recent cases like Wu v Ling or Mackintosh v Johnson?

This talk will be of interest to practising lawyers, academics and graduate law students.


  • Pauline Ridge »

    Pauline Ridge teaches LAWS8335 Modern Equity in the ANU LLM Program. Professor Ridge is an internationally recognised private law scholar and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She has been published on six occasions in one of the world’s leading journals, the Law Quarterly Review.

  • Dilan Thampapillai »

    Dilan Thampapillai teaches LAWS8218 Advanced Contracts in the ANU LLM Program. Mr Thampapillai is an expert on contract law. The second edition of his text on Contract Law was recently published with LexisNexis and the second edition of his Commercial Law text will be published with Cambridge University Press.

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