Director's Report

Asian Law Centre's 30th Anniversary Pip Nicholson

The second half of 2015 saw the ALC celebrate its 30th anniversary. Joining us to debate ‘Tolerance and Rights in Asia’ were Antony Dapiran (Partner, David Polk & Wardell, Hong Kong) and Professor Jiunn-rong Yeh (National Taiwan University). Our guests addressed the catalysts for rights protests in each site and how these rights protests manifest. The speakers noted an emerging network of student groups between Hong Kong and Taiwan and the implications of these protests for China’s relationship with each of these unique sites. To conclude the discussion, I launched Professor Sarah Biddulph’s The Stability Imperative, a study of the Chinese Party-state ‘management’ of human rights issues in China.

Inaugural ALC YouTube video

Broader reflection on the ALC's 30th anniversary

Death Penalty Seminars and Briefing Papers

Together with CILIS, we hosted a keynote address on ‘Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Death Penalty’ by Professor, Dr Jimly Asshiddiqie, former founding Chief Justice of the Indonesian Constitutional Court and current Professor of Law at the University of Indonesia. Professor Asshiddiqie argued there is an inevitable tension between the death penalty and the right to life in Islam, as with all religions. He argued that Muslim majority states, like Indonesia, are reconsidering the death penalty, suggesting that a suspended death penalty may be a crucial first step to abolition. Professor Asshiddiqie’s address has been published as CILIS / ALC Briefing Paper No 5. It is also available on YouTube.

We also welcomed analysis of the death penalty in Indonesia from lead Indonesian counsel defending Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Professor Todung Lubis. CILIS / ALC Briefing Paper No 4 sets out Professor Lubis’ detailed analysis of how and why Indonesia might introduce a suspended death penalty. It is also available on YouTube.

I noted earlier this year that Andrew Godwin taught in the MLS, NUS, Oxford Universities China and the Common Law Program at four-leading Chinese universities. The lectures from this program have been published by the Tsinghua China Law Review.

CHAFTA Event and Briefing Paper

Andrew Godwin worked with King & Wood Mallesons to host an event focussing on the Australia - China Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA). Speakers included Dene Yeaman, Director, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and lead negotiator of the CHAFTA along with Andrew Godwin, Arjuna Nadaraja and Molina Asthana. ALC Briefing Paper No 3, The  ‘Australia - China Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA): Legal Services and the Regional Context’, an analysis of CHAFTA, was launched at this event. Bryan Mercurio also spoke to trade issues when he outlined the position of ASEAN on trade in services at a seminar in July.

Recent Events and Visitors

As always, there have been a range of insights about law and practice from guests to the Centre spanning: Japanese Bankruptcy Law (Dr Shinjiro Takagi); Access to Justice in Japan (Professor Kota Fukui);  a Conversation with a Japanese High Court Judge (Judge Takashi Sonoo); Refugee Protection in China (Dr Lili Song); Constitutional Review in China (Professor Wang Weiming); Constitutional Change in Myanmar (Dr Melissa Crouch); Legal Issues in Mongolian Mining Law (Judge Tsogt Tsend); and the challenges for Australian lawyers practising in the region (Dr Hop Dang).

Interns in Delhi

We are delighted our first 11 interns spent a month in Delhi in July, returning to share insights on law and legal practice in India. We are indebted to the following for hosting the interns: Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co; Phoenix Legal; S & R Associates, Human Rights Law Network; Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; and leading counsel Rajshekar Rao.

Visitors from Vietnam

Together with Law School colleagues Wendy Larcombe and Alison Duxbury, we hosted a delegation from the Faculty of Law at Ho Chi Minh City University, Vietnam where law student selection, law assessment practices and the teaching of human rights were all on the agenda.

In October, a delegation of 15 officials of the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice visited the ALC.  The Ministry of Justice sees this course as a key part of the 5-year training program that the Ministry of Justice now offers its new interns.

Conference on Socialist Legal Systems

In October, Sarah Biddulph, Will Partlett and I joined colleagues from around the world to debate the Soviet Legal Legacy in Socialist Asia. This conference, which was jointly convened by the Asian Law Centre, Monash University’s Department of Business Law and Taxation, Hong Kong University and the China University of Hong Kong, brought together experts on Soviet law and the Chinese and Vietnamese legal systems. We were joined by MLS doctoral students, Pham Lan Phuong and Hai Do Ha, who gave excellent papers on socialism and its legacies in Vietnam. We look forward to working on the resulting book with our collaborators.

As always, the ALC is indebted to its staff, colleagues, friends and students for their support.

We wish you all a safe and happy festive season and a spectacular start to the year of the monkey with the coming New Year.


Professor Pip Nicholson
Asian Law Centre