Faculty Research Seminar Series


Melbourne Law School's Faculty Research Seminar Series is a place to present and discuss work-in-progress, promising arguments and early drafts to interested staff, graduate researchers and visitors


In 2017, semester 1 seminars were organised and hosted by Glenn Patmore. Semester 2 seminars will be organised and hosted by Adrienne Stone, Julian Sempill and Cait Storr.

The seminars are held every week during semester from 1.10pm -2.00pm.

Semester 1 seminars will be held in the Level 10 Boardroom – Melbourne Law School
Semester 2 seminars will be held in Room 920, Level 9 – Melbourne Law School.

A light refreshment will be provided from 1:00pm.

The presenter will speak for about 30 minutes, followed by time for questions.

  • 6 March 2017 - Professor Elise Bant

    Title - Unjust Enrichment and Restitution Law in the Kiefel High Court

    Abstract - A succession of important cases over the last thirty years has provided repeated opportunities for the High Court to exert a considerably degree of ‘top-down’ influence on the evolution of the Australian law of unjust enrichment and restitution, to a degree not necessarily found in other jurisdictions. The particular ‘character’ of successive Courts has been an important part of that story. The Mason court saw Mason and Deane JJ in particular repeatedly engage with unjust enrichment analysis as part of a much broader attempt to synthesize principles across the breadth of the private law (also seen, for example, in the Waltons and Verwayen decisions concerning estoppel). Justice Gummow’s scholarship played a marked role in subsequent Courts’ efforts to halt, if not reject entirely, this process of integration and to treat unjust enrichment analysis with corresponding caution. Later decisions in the French court have revealed a fresh state of flux in the field (as marked by Equuscorp, AFSL and most recently Lavin). With the recent appointment of Edelman J comes widespread speculation that there may be again be a changing in the tide within the High Court in favour of the recognition of the value of unjust enrichment analysis. But other recent appointments such as Nettle J and Gordon J are potentially also part of that evolving story, with Kiefel CJ’s own influence and considerable interest in the field also yet to be fully mapped. This paper reflects upon the patterns of influence, decisions and scholarly writings of successive members of the High Court Australia from the Mason court to the present, concluding with some observations on the future of the law of unjust enrichment and restitution in Australia.

  • 20 March 2017 - Professor Robert Glicksman
    (The George Washington University)

    Title - Reorganizing Government: The Functions and Dimensions of Regulatory Authority

    Abstract - Longstanding notions of how regulatory institutions relate and interact are being challenged.  To date, however, a comprehensive framework for characterizing the allocation of government authority, for comprehending the relationships among governmental institutions, and for assessing the tradeoffs of different potential allocations is lacking.

    This presentation is based on a forthcoming book that seeks to revise conventional understandings of institutional relationships, and offers a pioneering model for assessing government organization.  It will explain how past approaches have failed to appreciate the full diversity of alternatives for organizing governmental authority to help address human problems.  The presentation will focus on the relationships and tradeoffs among three different dimensions of government regulatory authority:  the extent to which it should be centralized or decentralized, overlapping or distinct, and coordinated or independent.  It will also highlight the value of assessing whether allocations should differ depending on the governmental function—such as funding, planning, permitting, enforcement—being exercised.  Past failures by policymakers to consider these attributes of institutional relationships have contributed to reorganization efforts that have proven ill-suited to achieving policymakers’ goals due to mismatches between the perceived defects of existing structures and the allocations of authority chosen to replace them.

  • 27 March 2017 - Dr Wendy Ng

    Title - Broadening the lens of international competition law: China's potential impact

    Abstract - Competition law is increasingly international in its scope and application. Today, over 120 jurisdictions have adopted a competition law, and an international consensus on the norms, standards, and best practices for competition law has been created and fostered. However, this paper argues that this consensus is no longer truly representative of the international competition law community. Developing countries now constitute a majority of competition law jurisdictions, yet the international competition norms that are being developed may be inadequate to address their goals, needs, and concerns. The dynamics of the institutions and means through which international competition law is forged has resulted in norms that reflect the perspectives and approaches of the United States, Europe, and developed countries. With the recent emergence of China as the third pillar of international competition law, alongside the United States and European Union, a question that arises is whether and how China’s competition law and enforcement might lead to an international competition law that better accommodates the perspectives of developing countries, especially in relation to development-related issues. This paper begins to consider this question.

  • 3 April 2017 - Dr John Waugh

    Title - A queer history of Melbourne Law School

    Abstract - Queer history is well established in histories of gender, sexuality and intimacy, but it has been slower to make its way into institutional history. This paper considers some of the ways in which queer perspectives can inform the history of the Melbourne Law School. It takes queer history in two senses, both as a catch-all term for histories of LGBTI people, and as a theoretical approach that encourages alternative interpretations of established histories. The people of the law school provide rich material for both approaches, from the cases fought by the early barrister–lecturers, through the first women graduates, to the Gay Liberation and law-reform movements of the 1970s.

  • 10 April 2017 - Professor Christine Parker,
    Associate Professor Suzanne Le Mire
    (University of Adelaide), and
    Dr Anita Mackay (Latrobe University)

    Title - Lawyers, confidentiality and whistleblowing: lessons from the McCabe tobacco litigation

    Abstract - In 2006 Christopher Dale leaked information about Clayton Utz’s internal investigation into the events surrounding the destruction of documents that would have been relevant and damaging to their client, British American Tobacco in the 2002 McCabe litigation. This paper uses this case study to examine whether lawyers can and should act as whistleblowers against colleagues and clients who abuse the administration of justice. We argue that although lawyers must have strong obligations of confidentiality to clients and others, their role as gatekeepers of justice also demands that they be allowed to blow the whistle when where they have information about clients or other lawyers using legal services to subvert the administration of justice, and be protected when they do so. The paper evaluates the circumstances in which such whistleblowing is appropriate and makes suggestions about how the law should be reformed by reference to three touchstones: the nature of the relationship between the lawyer and the wrongdoer; the nature of the wrongdoing itself; and, the process used to disclose the wrongdoing.

  • 24 April 2017 - Dr Olivia Barr

    Title - Legal Footprints

    Abstract - Outside Yulara, tourists increasingly refrain from walking on Uluru in respect of Anangu Tjukurpa (i.e. Anangu law). Likewise, visitors to Aboriginal lands in Western Australia and the Northern Territory often seek permission before entering, another sign of respect for Aboriginal laws. Yet in Australian cities, apart from occasional acknowledgements of Country in institutional settings, we do not tend to seek permission before entering another’s Country, when we cross, for instance, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We do not seek permission to walk city streets. Why not?

    As legal and anthropological research has long shown, Aboriginal law is a form of law that is different from Australian law, and continues to be practiced, not just out bush, but in the cities too. Taking this seriously, what might it mean to walk in a city where the land is another form of law? And how might public artists focus our legal attention? In this seminar, working with the ‘40,000 Years’ mural in Redfern as an example, I explore my basic proposition that when we walk in the city, we do so as legal subjects of a state-based law, while also walking on land that is another form of law. In other words, each footprint is a legal relation.

  • 1 May 2017 - Associate Professor Margaret Young

    Title - Energy Transitions, Fossil Fuel Subsidies and International Law

    Abstract - Climate scientists have argued that oil, gas and coal reserves must remain unexploited to limit global warming increases to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Yet governments are continuing to provide financial support for the increased production and consumption of such reserves; annual fossil fuel subsidies are estimated to be $650 billion globally. This presentation traverses the trade regime’s disciplines on subsidies, the climate regime’s concept of territorially-bounded emissions and customary international law notions of due diligence. It compares the position of energy exporting states (such as Australia) in each of these governance frameworks, drawing wider implications for an equitable, effective and legitimate transition to a low carbon economy. This work in progress will be further developed as part of Young’s visit to the European University Institute (EUI) and Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin in semester 2.

  • 8 May 2017 - Brad Jessup

    Title - The Sustainability Business Clinic – A model for Australian clinical legal education for a ‘new environmentalism’ and integrative environmental law

    Abstract - Australia is observing a ‘new environmentalism’ – with a wave of community representatives and groups shifting their attention away from government action towards enterprise collaboration and localised community organisation as a means of achieving environmental protection. Meanwhile, legal scholars have started to write about a ‘fourth generation’ of environmental laws that see environmental law as being ‘integrated’ – more connected with other sub-disciplines of the law and as an instrument to accommodate a plurality of values about the environment. This paper situates the MLS Sustainability Business Clinic within this context, and presents the clinic as successful in positioning environmental problems across multiple subject areas within and beyond law.

  • 15 May 2017 - Professor Carolyn Evans

    Title - Law, Religion and Women’s Rights

    Abstract Using two cases as focal points (one from Europe and one from Malaysia) this talk will examine the ways in which women’s rights are both hindered and enhanced by religion and law. In the Dahlab case, the European Court uses the law to restrict women’s choices around religious clothing in the name of gender equality and tolerance. In Lina Joy the Malaysian Court defers to religious norms and allows them to undermine constitutional rights. In both cases, the law fails religious minority women.

    Challenging much of the modern discourse about religion being inherently oppressive and women needing to be rescued from it by secular legal systems, the talk argues that both law and religion can play liberating and oppressive roles in women’s live. Women use the tools available to them to work towards outcomes that they see as valuable.