Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books, book chapters, journal articles and working papers. The ANU College of Law also publishes a Research Paper Series on SSRN.

Protecting (Human) Rights

Protecting (Human) Rights

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This paper addresses the discourse of human rights in the Australian context. The resistance to human rights is apparent in the drafting of the Constitution and, subsequently, in attempts to enact a statutory bill of rights. The paper also considers the National Human Rights Consultation Report of 2009, noting how the political swing rightwards could damage the prospects of a federal Human Rights Act.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education

The New Racism in Employment Discrimination

The New Racism in Employment Discrimination: Tales from the Global Economy

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

Neoliberal employment strategies, immigration policies, economic globalisation and the events of 9/11 have created new environments for racism in Australia. In this article, the ramifications of the shifting political environment on race discrimination against ethnicised Others in employment since 1990 are examined, with particular regard to the post-9/11 period. Drawing on complaints made to anti-discrimination agencies and decisions of courts and tribunals, it is argued that there has been a contraction in the ambit of operation of the legislation through the application of exemptions and a heightened burden of proof for complainants which has had a chilling effect on the jurisdiction. Drawing on Goldberg’s thesis of the racial state, it is posited that in the contemporary political environment, the state is active in producing and sustaining racism.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education

Sexual Harassment Losing Sight of Sex Discrimination

Sexual Harassment Losing Sight of Sex Discrimination

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

In this article, the author argues that the separation of sexual harassment from sex discrimination within legal and popular discourses deflects attention from systemic discrimination. The article examines a range of conduct to support the view that the closer to heterosex the harassing conduct is, the more likely it is to be accepted as sexual harassment. This corporealised focus not only individualises the conduct and detracts from the idea of women as rational knowers in authoritative positions, it also legitimises other forms of harassing conduct in the workplace. The unremitting focus on the sexual in sexual harassment therefore serves a convenient political and ideological purpose within a neo liberal climate that privileges employer prerogative over workers’ rights.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education

A Marriage of Strangers

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

Electoral Malapportionment

Electoral Malapportionment: Partisanship, Rhetoric and Reform in the Shadow of the Agrarian Strong-Man

Author(s): Ron Levy

This article revisits the zonal malapportionment endemic in Queensland’s electoral system before the Fitzgerald Inquiry and examines how reform was won. The process is found to be one of liberalising but not ground-breaking catch-up. Viewing Queensland’s zonal system in the larger perspective of manipulation of electoral maps, this article compares Premier Bjelke-Petersen with populist strongmen in South Australia (Playford) and Québec (Duplessis), who employed similar rhetoric to entrench themselves. Ultimately, as others had, Queensland’s agrarian chauvinism proved long-running but brittle. The Queensland example is intriguing for the paradoxes it presented. An important rhetorical component of it was the signalling of anti-democratic values inherent in the zonal system. The electoral manipulations merged pretence with openness. The pointed rejection of democratic pluralism married with the projection of an image of leadership by right. Bjelke-Petersen was proud to govern over, rather than through, democracy.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Walking in Her Shoes

Walking in Her Shoes: Battered Women Who Kill in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland

Author(s): Anthony Hopkins

In the light of the common law doctrine of self-defence in Australia, this article considers legislative reforms in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland to determine the extent to which they require judges and jurors to walk in the shoes of battered women in pursuit of an evaluation of reasonableness. It will be argued that, with the exception of Queensland, which has emphasised the necessity to judge reasonableness from the perspective of the battered woman only in so far as this may enable a verdict of murder to be reduced to manslaughter, the reforms have clarified or extended the common law position.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Criminal Law, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Law and Gender, Law and Social Justice, Legal Education

Curriculum (Re)Development ‘On the Job’ in Higher Education

Curriculum (Re)Development ‘On the Job’ in Higher Education: Benefits of a Collaborative and Iterative Framework Supporting Educational Innovation

Author(s): Tony Foley

This paper concerns curriculum development for online learning in a commercial law course using a process of sustained action-research. We identify and discuss four main characteristics in this process: a need to respond to an external requirement for change (i.e. going online): one or two key guiding teaching and learning principles; an incremental, flexible timeline over three consecutive iterations; a collaborative, supportive partnership between educators and educational consultants . There were two levels of action: learning what was required for curriculum redevelopment and learning about the process of supporting educational development itself. Substantive outcomes included the: sustained adoption of the practices of active learning and curriculum alignment; conceptual development of discussion as a learning tool; acceptance of the fundamental value and practical role in developing purposeful reflection provided by a ‘critical friend.’

Read on SSRN

Centre:

Research theme: Criminal Law, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Legal Education

Curriculum (Re)Development ‘On the Job’ in Higher Education

Curriculum (Re)Development ‘On the Job’ in Higher Education: Benefits of a Collaborative and Iterative Framework Supporting Educational Innovation

Author(s): Tony Foley

This paper concerns curriculum development for online learning in a commercial law course using a process of sustained action-research. We identify and discuss four main characteristics in this process: a need to respond to an external requirement for change (i.e. going online): one or two key guiding teaching and learning principles; an incremental, flexible timeline over three consecutive iterations; a collaborative, supportive partnership between educators and educational consultants . There were two levels of action: learning what was required for curriculum redevelopment and learning about the process of supporting educational development itself. Substantive outcomes included the: sustained adoption of the practices of active learning and curriculum alignment; conceptual development of discussion as a learning tool; acceptance of the fundamental value and practical role in developing purposeful reflection provided by a ‘critical friend.’

Read on SSRN

Centre:

Research theme: Criminal Law, Indigenous Peoples and the Law, Legal Education

Judicial Patronage of Honor Killings in Pakistan

Judicial Patronage of ‘Honor Killings' in Pakistan: The Supreme Court's Persistent Adherence to the Doctrine of Grave and Sudden Provocation

Author(s): Moeen Cheema

Pakistan has earned considerable notoriety on the international stage because of its failure to curb violent crimes against women committed in the name of honor. Academic analyses of the state's failure to deter honor killings focus primarily on lacunae in statutory law (especially the Islamized provisions introduced by legislation), while assigning secondary blame to gaps in the criminal justice system, failings of the policing system, and the inherent defects in the workings of the informal tribal or community-based adjudicatory mechanisms. However, most of these studies fail to dissect the perplexing array of Pakistan's laws, especially the different punishment regimes and rules concerning pardon that apply to various categories of murder. As such, these studies miss the mark since the main culprit is neither the substantive legal provisions nor the frequently demonized Islamic law provisions, but rather, the superior judiciary of Pakistan which has historically patronized honor killing by consistently exercising all available discretion in sentencing to the benefit of those accused of such crimes. It is, therefore, important to appreciate the history of the judicial approach towards sentencing and the allegiance to the exculpatory doctrine of grave and sudden provocation in Pakistan, lately in the face of statutory intervention as well as Islamic law doctrines.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Law, Governance and Development, Legal Theory

Neoliberal Melancholia: The Case of Feminist Legal Scholarship

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

This paper arises out of a concern for the future of feminist legal scholarship in the academy. First, it considers the significance of the implosion of the category ‘woman’, suggesting that it should be understood in its particular epistemic context. Secondly, it considers the impact of the contemporary market paradigm on feminist legal scholarship and on feminist academics generally. As the prognosis is not optimistic, the paper poses the question as to whether the more appropriate site for feminist legal academics might be outside the academy.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education

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

Technocentrism in the Law School: Why the Gender and Colour of Law Remain the Same

Author(s): Margaret Thornton

Despite valiant endeavours by feminist, critical race, and Queer scholars to transform the legal culture, the transformative project has been limited because of the power of corporatism, a phenomenon deemed marginal to the currently fashionable micropolitical sites of critical scholarship. However, liberal, as well as postmodern scholarship, has largely preferred to ignore the ramifications of the “new economy,” which includes a marked political shift to the right, the contraction of the public sphere, the privatization of public goods, globalization, and a preoccupation with efficiency, economic rationalism, and profits. This paper argues that technical reasoning, or “technocentrism,” has enabled corporatism to evade scrutiny. It explores the meaning of “technocentrism,” with particular regard to legal education. Because corporate power does not operate from a unitary site, but is diffused, the paper shows how it impacts upon legal education from multiple sites, from outside as well as inside the legal academy in a concerted endeavour to maintain the status quo.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH

Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Gender, Legal Education

Estoppel and Public Authorities: Examining the Case for an Equitable Remedy

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Estoppels can be raised against public authorities but cannot be enforced where that would require the public authority to act ultra vires or fetter a statutory discretion. There have been attempts to create a public law doctrine of substantive legitimate expectations to address this remedial gap; indeed, such a doctrine is now well-established in the UK. However, it is not appropriate to the constitutional setting in Australia. This need not mean that no remedy is available where an individual relies to his or her detriment on a misrepresentation made by a public authority. This article argues that equity retains a capacity to provide compensation to remedy an estoppel, even where parties are not in a fiduciary relationship and in the absence of fraud.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Book Review: Reflections on Democracy and Deliberation in Australia – Australia The State of Democracy

Author(s): Ron Levy

A few years ago, the convenors of the Australian National University’s Democratic Audit asked scholars of politics and of law to report on democracy in this country. The result is Australia: The State of Democracy. Not an edited collection but an ‘audit’, the book’s three authors have synthesised contributors’ reports into a single volume in order to diagnose the ‘health’ of Australian political life. The result is a revealing fullbody scan of the body politic and the institutions sustaining it.

In this article's review of the book, the focus is on the quality of political deliberation in Australia.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, CMSL, DGAL

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law, Governance and Development

Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and the Public/Private Distinction in Australian Administrative Law

Author(s): Greg Weeks

This article considers the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) and the capacity of its decisions to be reviewed. While the constitutional position of the SCT is settled after the decision of the High Court in Attorney-General (Cth) v. Breckler (1999) 197 CLR 83, its categorisation as a private body remains open to question. This being the case, the susceptibility of decisions of the SCT to review is compared with the equitable standards upon which trustee decisions are reviewable. Challenges to decisions of the SCT may not be possible under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth) but the quasi-private character of the SCT – a private body with a public function – presents scope for courts to hold that the SCT owes an equitable duty to those within its jurisdiction.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

Litigating Questions of Quality

Author(s): Greg Weeks

There are some grounds of judicial review which inherently lead the court to consider questions of the quality of the decision-maker’s decision. The most prominent of these are review for Wednesbury unreasonableness and S20/2002 irrationality or illogicality. These grounds of review require careful application to avoid reviewing the merits of a case. The Australian Retailers case demonstrates another difficulty with quality review – that of what detail should be allowed in the evidence both supporting and rebutting the alleged error of law. This article provides a brief examination of the nature of quality review, followed by an examination of the approach used by Weinberg J in Australian Retailers. The article also suggests a method by which judicial review for issues of quality can serve its intended purpose – to catch rare and absurd decisions – without becoming unduly time-consuming or, worse, degenerating into merits review.

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

Estoppel and Public Authorities: Examining the Case for an Equitable Remedy

Author(s): Greg Weeks

Estoppels can be raised against public authorities but cannot be enforced where that would require the public authority to act ultra vires or fetter a statutory discretion. There have been attempts to create a public law doctrine of substantive legitimate expectations to address this remedial gap; indeed, such a doctrine is now well-established in the UK. However, it is not appropriate to the constitutional setting in Australia. This need not mean that no remedy is available where an individual relies to his or her detriment on a misrepresentation made by a public authority. This article argues that equity retains a capacity to provide compensation to remedy an estoppel, even where parties are not in a fiduciary relationship and in the absence of fraud.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

HLA Hart, Lon Fuller and the Ghosts of Legal Interpretation

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Henry James’ short novel The Turn of the Screw appeared in 1898. It is a ghost story, uncanny both in content and in form. It relates such uneventful events that the reader is left turning from interpretation to interpretation, trying to determine just what is going on. Yet like the ghosts themselves, wherever we look, there is nothing to see. Until the very last sentence of the book, which hits one like a fist, nothing happens, nothing is proved, and yet a palpable feeling of tension and anxiety builds. It is therefore not fanciful to suggest that the real power of the story lies not in its narrative but in its rhetoric. The book creates a mood of anxiety that infects the reader’s reading. This is what one might call the ‘performative’ dimension of the story. James’ tale constitutes a reader, alert but confused, who thereby experiences the feeling of being part of a ghost story rather than merely reading about one. Sixty years later, HLA Hart and Lon Fuller likewise do not merely describe two different approaches to legal interpretation: in their style, rhetoric and structure they perform these approaches. This essay similarly wishes to connect its argument with its form and for this reason I have chosen to devote considerable space to discussing a work of literature. The Turn of the Screw illuminates certain essential features of the Hart/Fuller debate. Both are tales about law, interpretation, and ghosts. Through James, this essay argues that the debate between Hart and Fuller epitomizes legal interpretation as haunted. Rhetorically, they present two largely incommensurable visions of law. Yet their efforts to exclude the other’s approach fails. But instead of choosing between Hart and Fuller we can gain a richer understanding of legal interpretation if we treat their performance as mutual and interactive. I do not mean that Hart and Fuller can in any way be reconciled through compromise or synthesis. I mean rather that each remains ‘haunted’, and therefore productively unsettled, by the perspective of the other. To be haunted is never to be comfortable with one’s judgment or knowledge, never at peace. This may be ‘a horror’ in a story, but necessary in a legal system.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

The Expanding Role of Process in Judicial Review

Author(s): Greg Weeks

This article examines the state of the law of procedural fairness and procedural error, demonstrating that inadequacy of process is now central to findings that decisions of the Executive are so lacking in quality as to manifest an error of law. The article argues that fairness of outcome and legitimacy of review need not be defined only in relation to the faultlessness of process.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

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