Extra-territoriality in empire: The foreign office, the colonial office and the 'Foreign Jurisdiction Act' 1843

Date & time

1–2pm Monday 12 November 2018


Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

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


Professor Shaunnagh Dorsett, University of Technology Sydney


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


ANU Law Marketing & Communications
Event image

This paper considers the parallel efforts of the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office to exert extra-territorial control over unruly British subjects on the frontiers of the Empire in the eighteen-thirties. In so doing it re-examines the history of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act 1843, widening the story of its development to include not just the history of the Foreign Office’s attempts to fashion a solution to the problem of extra-territorial jurisdiction but also those of the Colonial Office to similarly control British traders in areas beyond the ‘formal’ Empire which were controlled by ‘native sovereigns’.

While the paper traverses a number of jursdictions, it primarily tells this story through an examination of attempts to control British subjects in Aotearoa (later New Zealand) prior to the formal acquisition of sovereignty. The paper seeks, then, to broaden the conventional history of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act in order to reposition it as a wider Imperial concern of Empire.


  • Shaunnagh Dorsett »

    Shaunnagh Dorsett is Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney, where she is Director of the Faculty’s Area of Research Excellence in Law and History. She writes on jurisdiction, on Empire and on and Crown-Indigenous legal relations, particularly in colonial New Zealand. Her most recent book, Juridical Encounters: Māori and the Colonial Courts, 1840-1852 (AUP 2017), was jointly awarded the ARANZ Ian Wards Prize and was shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize. She is the co-author (with Shaun McVeigh) of Jurisdiction (Routledge 2012) and co-editor (with John McLaren) of Legal Histories of the British Empire: Laws, Engagements, and Legacies (Routledge 2014). She is a member of the Editorial Committees of The Journal of Legal History and law&history.

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team