'Living on in the Law: Naming Laws after Homicide Victims'
Presented by Professor Arlie Loughnan
The 2023 Peter Brett Memorial Lecture
In recent decades, in Australia, a number of laws have been named after victims of crime. This practice, which Professor Arlie Loughnan calls eponymous law, now encompasses the creation of numerous new laws or legal amendments. In this lecture, Professor Arlie Loughnan points to this practice as a fascinating aspect of the making of criminal law. She will focus on two dimensions of the practice of naming laws after homicide victims.
First, this practice is a way in which the families of the crime victims give meaning to their loss through crime. An examination of publicly reported statements by victims’ families reveals a wide range of motives, from honouring the victim to helping to ensure other families do not go through the same trauma. Professor Loughnan asks if this practice reflects the rise of popular punitivism in the current era.
Second, eponymous law represents a distinct aspect of the changing relationship between criminal law and victims of crime. This becomes apparent through the contextualisation of this practice as emerging against a background set by the rise of the victims’ rights movement in Australia from the 1970s, the massive growth of criminal legislation since this time, and an apparent increase in the political popularity of victim-oriented law reform. What does this mean for the place of criminal law in contemporary Australian society?
Prof. Arlie Loughnan
Dr. Loughnan is a Professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Law Theory at the University of Sydney. She is the immediate past Director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology and a former editor of the Sydney Law Review and Current Interests in Criminal Justice. Arlie works at the intersection of criminal law, legal theory, and legal history. She is the author of two monographs, Self, Others and the State: Relations of Criminal Responsibility (CUP 2020), and Manifest Madness: Mental Incapacity in Criminal Law (OUP 2012) as well as numerous articles, chapters, and other works. Arlie holds degrees from the University of Sydney, New York University, and the London School of Economics.
Peter Brett Memorial Lecture
Peter Brett (1918-1975), appointed Senior Lecturer at the Law School in 1955, Reader in 1961, Hearn Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne from 1963 to 1964, and Professor of Jurisprudence from 1964 until his death, was distinguished by both his scholarship in criminal law and legal philosophy, and his determination to contest injustice in the courts. He was one of the group of lawyers who stopped the hanging of Paul Tait in 1962, creating a landmark in the history of capital punishment in Australia.