Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

Maladministration: the Particular Jurisdiction of the Ombudsman

Author(s): Greg Weeks

The office of the ombudsman is much misunderstood. Is it better viewed as part of the executive or the judiciary? Is it a fragile institution, unprotected with security of tenure? Is it a ‘toothless tiger’? The one constant in the face of such inquiries is that ombudsmen don’t seem to care, or at least carry on with great effectiveness as though they don’t. I would argue in any case that such queries are beside the point and that the one thing that must be understood about the ombudsman is that it is an office with a particular purpose.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Judicial Review’s Exclusion by Privative Clauses: Dead or Just Resting?

Author(s): Greg Weeks

The privative clause is dead – or so we are told. Nonetheless, it remains a topic of conversation and judicial attention in both Australia and England, albeit for somewhat different reasons. The Australian approach to privative clauses is substantially coloured by the relevance attached to the concept of jurisdictional error and is therefore distinctly constitutional in its outlook. The English courts have long ago dismissed the role of jurisdictional error and, although they continue to rely on the precedent of Anisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission [1969] 2 AC 147, do so while rejecting the reasoning which informs the use of that case in Australia. This article considers the approaches taken in both jurisdictions and attempts to set out the continuing relevance of the privative clause in Australia.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Government Liability: Principles and Remedies

Government Liability: Principles and Remedies

Author(s): Greg Weeks, Dr Janina Boughey, Dr Ellen Rock

Given the degree of power wielded by Australian government officials and entities, it is unsurprising that government decisions and conduct frequently impact on individuals. To find the most appropriate way to resolve a particular case, practitioners must be able to work across the traditional legal ‘silos’, drawing on public and private law principles as well as the important, and often under-valued, roles of non-legal accountability mechanisms. This book familiarises readers with some of the complexities underpinning this area and covers public law remedies, private law remedies, and statutory remedies.

Purchase your copy online

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

The Creation of Australian Administrative Law: The Constitution and Its Judicial Gate-Keepers

Author(s): Greg Weeks

For a long time judicial review in Australia was little more than a carbon copy of its English equivalent. In the period before the various Australian states became part of a unified federal nation, judicial review occurred within the inherent supervisory jurisdiction of the various Supreme Courts of those individual colonies and proceeded in a manner similar to that of English courts exercising inherent supervisory jurisdiction. The Australian Constitution is now the defining feature and dominant force of our judicial review doctrine. The key feature of the Australian Constitution that has enabled the recognition and entrenchment of judicial review of administrative action is the express creation and entrenchment of the courts. The express recognition and protection of a selection of the judicial remedies has proved equally important because the constitutional mention of some of the traditional remedies of judicial review has provided the foundation for the courts to entrench by implication that which necessarily precedes the issue of those remedies. While these and other important elements of the Australian Constitution have enabled the development of constitutionally protected avenues of supervisory review, this same constitutional foundation has also provided the source of judicial review principles that increasingly differ from their early English heritage. Many parallels between English and Australian principles remain and the one we discuss about natural justice suggests that, as happens within so many families, Australian judicial review can unwittingly replicate the mistakes of its English parent.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Monetary Awards for Public Law Wrongs: Australia's Resistant Legal Landscape

Author(s): Greg Weeks

The idea of introducing a monetary remedy for harm arising out of the misdirected exercise of public power has waxed and waned in popularity in Australia over the years. Though few would dispute the intuitive appeal of the sentiment that ‘wrongs should not go unremedied’, the question of why this is so and how harm arising from maladministration could, or should, be repaired remains unresolved. This article canvasses a number of the potential justifications for the creation of such a remedy, before noting the various avenues the Australian courts have considered, and closed down, which might otherwise have led in that direction. These rejected opportunities have included the expansion of existing tort actions (eg misfeasance in public office and breach of statutory duty), the creation of new causes of action in tort (eg the Beaudesert tort and constitutional torts), and the interpretation of statutory remedial powers (eg the power to ‘do justice between the parties’ pursuant to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth)). Whatever the virtue of a remedy on this front, it is clear that it will need to be a matter of legislative, rather than judicial, intervention.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Monetary Awards for Public Law Wrongs: Australia's Resistant Legal Landscape

Author(s): Greg Weeks

The idea of introducing a monetary remedy for harm arising out of the misdirected exercise of public power has waxed and waned in popularity in Australia over the years. Though few would dispute the intuitive appeal of the sentiment that ‘wrongs should not go unremedied’, the question of why this is so and how harm arising from maladministration could, or should, be repaired remains unresolved. This article canvasses a number of the potential justifications for the creation of such a remedy, before noting the various avenues the Australian courts have considered, and closed down, which might otherwise have led in that direction. These rejected opportunities have included the expansion of existing tort actions (eg misfeasance in public office and breach of statutory duty), the creation of new causes of action in tort (eg the Beaudesert tort and constitutional torts), and the interpretation of statutory remedial powers (eg the power to ‘do justice between the parties’ pursuant to the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth)). Whatever the virtue of a remedy on this front, it is clear that it will need to be a matter of legislative, rather than judicial, intervention.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Soft Law and Public Liability: Beyond the Separation of Powers?

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Soft law refers to domestic, non-legislative instruments which are designed to influence, modify or otherwise affect conduct. It relies for this result on the fact that people generally assume that soft law requires them to act and has immediate legal effect. Where this assumption is mistaken, individuals have a limited capacity to obtain remedies where public authorities fail to adhere to the terms of their published soft law. This paper examines reliance on soft law and considers a selection of the diverse forms in which it appears. It considers which remedies are available where an individual suffers loss as a result of relying on soft law and asks whether and how the separation of powers doctrine can be updated to attach legal significance to the proliferation of soft law. Soft law is a topic about which little has been written. Given its importance as a regulatory tool, a fuller analysis of its place within the separation of powers model is both timely and original.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Soft Law and Public Liability: Beyond the Separation of Powers?

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Soft law refers to domestic, non-legislative instruments which are designed to influence, modify or otherwise affect conduct. It relies for this result on the fact that people generally assume that soft law requires them to act and has immediate legal effect. Where this assumption is mistaken, individuals have a limited capacity to obtain remedies where public authorities fail to adhere to the terms of their published soft law. This paper examines reliance on soft law and considers a selection of the diverse forms in which it appears. It considers which remedies are available where an individual suffers loss as a result of relying on soft law and asks whether and how the separation of powers doctrine can be updated to attach legal significance to the proliferation of soft law. Soft law is a topic about which little has been written. Given its importance as a regulatory tool, a fuller analysis of its place within the separation of powers model is both timely and original.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Government Accountability As a ‘Constitutional Value’

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Accountability is frequently described as one of the key ‘values’ or ‘ideals’ that administrative law is designed to uphold. Accountability’s greatest claim to hold the status of a value might be its ubiquity: it has been described as the ‘buzzword of modern governance’, the ‘über-concept of the 21st century’, and a ‘theme … central to all discussion of government’. Yet the modern meaning of accountability has developed very recently. The word ‘accountability’ can be found in Australian cases over the last century but most refer to the accountability of fiduciaries (such as liquidators and executors) in equity, of taxpayers, of tortfeasors, in electoral matters and of public companies, rather than of government bodies. The concept of the ‘accountability’ of government to those governed has become prominent only fairly recently.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Judicial Review of Administrative Action

Judicial Review of Administrative Action and Government Liability 6th Edition

Author(s): Greg Weeks, Matthew Groves, Mark Aronson

Judicial Review of Administrative Action and Government Liability Sixth Edition is one of Australia’s most respected legal texts. It became the first title in our prestigious Lawbook Library Series, because it represents definitive legal scholarship and publishing excellence in Australian law. For two decades, this work has both mapped and supported development of the law and practice of judicial review of administrative action throughout Australia. Repeatedly cited in the High Court of Australia, this landmark work remains the definitive scholarly work for judicial officers, practitioners and students alike.

The sixth edition includes an entirely new chapter on what is now a substantial body of special statutory and common law rules that apply to government liability in contract, tort, and restitution. Numerous decisions of the High Court and the Federal Court, in particular, are producing a discernible relaxation of the traditional grounds of review, and a more expansive approach to the interpretation of regulatory statutes. In addition, the Full Court of the Federal Court has announced a simplification of the criteria for appeals limited to questions of law, overturning literally dozens of earlier precedents.

In the Sixth Edition, Mark Aronson and Matthew Groves are joined by Greg Weeks formerly from the University of New South Wales, and now at the Australian National University. Their combined expertise ensures that this pre-eminent title continues to provide a fresh and authoritative treatment of judicial review of administrative actions in Australia, and an invaluable guide to the special problems relating to government liability in tort, contract and equity.

Purchase your copy online

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law, Regulatory Law and Policy

Planning and Soft Law

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Complex regulatory systems are particularly in need of regulation capable of maintaining both high standards and consistency in decision-making. Soft law is frequently the mechanism of choice to achieve these ends, since it can be made and altered with relative ease but is nonetheless treated as though it were hard and enforceable ‘law’. The law around environmental planning decisions, although subject to detailed legislative control, makes extensive and predominantly effective use of soft law. However, the use of soft law always carries some risk and this is generally imposed asymmetrically upon individuals rather than public bodies. This article will consider these issues, taking account of several relevant cases.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Government Accountability As a ‘Constitutional Value’

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Accountability is frequently described as one of the key ‘values’ or ‘ideals’ that administrative law is designed to uphold. Accountability’s greatest claim to hold the status of a value might be its ubiquity: it has been described as the ‘buzzword of modern governance’, the ‘über-concept of the 21st century’, and a ‘theme … central to all discussion of government’. Yet the modern meaning of accountability has developed very recently. The word ‘accountability’ can be found in Australian cases over the last century but most refer to the accountability of fiduciaries (such as liquidators and executors) in equity, of taxpayers, of tortfeasors, in electoral matters and of public companies, rather than of government bodies. The concept of the ‘accountability’ of government to those governed has become prominent only fairly recently.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

ADJR at 40: In its Prime or a Disappointment to its Parents?

Author(s): Greg Weeks

The commencement of the ADJR Act represented a significant moment in Australian administrative law. This paper will discuss the impact of the ADJR Act and its continuing relevance.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

What Can We Legitimately Expect from the State?

Author(s): Greg Weeks

The recognition and enforcement of legitimate expectations by courts has been a striking feature of English law since R v North and East Devon Health Authority; ex parte Coughlan [2001] 3 QB 213. Although the substantive form of legitimate expectation adopted in Coughlan was quickly accepted by English courts and received a generally favourable response from public law scholars, the doctrine of that case has largely been rejected in other common law jurisdictions. The central principles of Coughlan have been rejected by courts in common law jurisdictions outside the UK for a range of reasons, such as incompatibility with local constitutional doctrine, or because they mark an undesirable drift towards merits review. The skeptical and critical reception to Coughlan outside England is a striking contrast to the reception the case received within the UK. This issue warrants the detailed scholarly analysis that it receives in this forthcoming book to be published by Hart.

This chapter considers the promises public authorities make to individuals and how they are received. It examines both the capacity of government to create expectations and the legitimacy of people entertaining firm expectations of government and considers the substantive enforcement of legitimate expectations, when government might be estopped from resiling from its representations and in what circumstances government may be liable for making negligent misrepresentations.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

The Public Law of Restitution

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Restitution as the response to unjust enrichment has been available for a long time. As a body of law, it has mainly related to transactions between private entities. The decision of the House of Lords in Woolwich Equitable Building Society v Inland Revenue Commissioners [1993] AC 70 changed the law of restitution as it had developed in the UK up to that point. It did this by holding that an unlawful demand for a payment of tax which was not due was an unjust factor capable of making out unjust enrichment and enabling the claimant to obtain restitution of the money paid and interest. This government-only unjust factor operates in a fashion which is distinct from unjust factors which focus on the intention of the claimant to transfer wealth. Instead it asks whether the transfer of money was consequent on an unlawful demand. Woolwich has not as yet been adopted in Australia, but this article argues that it should be, albeit not as a direct constitutional claim. It further discusses the importance of Woolwich as a basis for restitution consequent on the use of soft law, which is a pervasive and highly effective means of regulation which otherwise results in almost no legal consequences.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

‘Officers of the Commonwealth’ in the Private Sector: Can the High Court Review Outsourced Exercises of Power

Author(s): Greg Weeks

This article analyses the options available to the High Court in defining the phrase 'officer of the Commonwealth' in the context of modern mixed administration. The various tests used in Australian administrative law are explored, with a focus on the "public function" test developed in Datafin. We argue that these administrative law tests are largely unhelpful and inappropriate for defining the scope of section 75(v) of the Constitution. Instead, we suggest that the High Court could find inspiration for the most appropriate and adapted solution from an unlikely place: Canadian human rights law. We argue that by adapting the 'control' used by Canadian courts to determine the scope of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Australian High Court could find an appropriate balance for reviewing the actions of private sector actors, while simultaneously achieving consistency with existing precedent.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

The Use of Soft Law by Australian Public Authorities: Issues and Remedies

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Soft law is a pervasive phenomenon which is highly effective as a means of regulation in Australia, as it is in many other jurisdictions. This paper will not focus on the regulatory aspects of soft law, but will examine the capacity of individuals to obtain remedies where public authorities fail to adhere to the terms of their published soft law. The available judicial remedies apply in very limited circumstances, both in private law actions (in tort or equity) and public law (judicial review) actions. Ultimately, the most effective ways to remedy breaches of soft law appear also to be ‘soft’, such as recommendations of the Ombudsman and discretionary schemes for ex gratia payments.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

The Use of Soft Law by Australian Public Authorities: Issues and Remedies

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Soft law is a pervasive phenomenon which is highly effective as a means of regulation in Australia, as it is in many other jurisdictions. This paper will not focus on the regulatory aspects of soft law, but will examine the capacity of individuals to obtain remedies where public authorities fail to adhere to the terms of their published soft law. The available judicial remedies apply in very limited circumstances, both in private law actions (in tort or equity) and public law (judicial review) actions. Ultimately, the most effective ways to remedy breaches of soft law appear also to be ‘soft’, such as recommendations of the Ombudsman and discretionary schemes for ex gratia payments.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Private Law Litigation Against the Government: Are Public Authorities and Private Actors Really 'the Same?'

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Historically, it was impossible at common law to undertake litigation against the Crown. In Australia, statutory provisions later provided that "in any suit to which the [government] is a party, the rights of parties shall as nearly as possible be the same … as in a suit between subject and subject." Litigation against government or other public authorities in relation to the exercise of functions analogous to those of private actors thus proceeds in essentially the same fashion as between two private individuals. However, the very wording of the statutory provision recognises that government and individuals can never be absolutely the same. Consequentially, there has been some debate as to the extent of government liability in tort in a number of High Court cases over the last 25 years, including Sutherland Shire Council v Heyman (1985) 157 CLR 424, Pyrenees Shire Council v Day (1998) 192 CLR 330, Crimmins v Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee (1999) 200 CLR 1 and Stuart v Kirkland-Veenstra (2009) 237 CLR 215. This article will examine the historical basis of the maxim ‘the King can do no wrong’, the misunderstanding which led to it being taken as conferring a common law immunity from suit on the government and the basis and effect of the statutory provisions which exposed government to liability in tort. It argues that government and private actors can never truly be "the same" and supports this conclusion with an analysis of the leading High Court authorities.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

A Marriage of Strangers: The Wednesbury Standard in Tort Law

Author(s): Greg Weeks

The recent process of legislative reform has seen the public law Wednesbury standard grafted onto the law of tort. Can these concepts operate together or are they fundamentally incongruous? Eminent jurists, most notably Brennan CJ and Lord Hoffmann, had previously proposed the Wednesbury standard as an appropriate measure of whether a public authority owed a duty of care in negligence. While this approach has never commanded the support of a High Court majority, tort law reforms have adopted the use of the Wednesbury standard as a means of restricting the liability of public authorities. This paper will analyse the interaction between Wednesbury and tort law both at common law (particularly in Brennan CJ’s judgment in Pyrenees Shire Council v Day (1998) 192 CLR 330) and under the Civil Liabilities Act 2002 (NSW), with particular reference to Firth v Latham [2007] NSWCA 40. I will argue that the fact that there are different purposes behind the public law Wednesbury standard and its application to tort law is productive of anomalies in the latter sphere. These anomalies are best addressed by greater legislative specificity.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

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