Director's Report

New ALC Member and China ProgramPip Nicholson

We are simply delighted to welcome Dr Wendy Ng as the newest member of the Asian Law Centre. Dr Ng’s doctoral research will be published as The Political Economy of Competition Law in China (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Wendy’s thesis was awarded the Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence in the PhD Thesis and the Harold Luntz Graduate Research Prize for Best PhD Thesis. Before joining MLS, Wendy worked in commercial practice in Melbourne and New York and also consulted with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the delivery of competition law and policy capacity-building workshops in Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Wendy has most recently worked at the University of Adelaide. She is currently an editor of the China Competition Bulletin.

New ALC Advisory Board Members

We are delighted to welcome two new members to the Advisory Board, Ms Lynden Mullen and Mr Rick Wallace. Members of the Advisory Board are currently:

  • The Hon. Justice Susan Kenny, Federal Court of Australia (Chair)
  • Mr Nathan Butler, National Australia Bank Limited
  • Mr Peter Gray QC
  • Mr Cheng Lim, King & Wood Mallesons
  • Ms Lynden Mullen, Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • Mr Rick Wallace, The Australian

Recent Events

Chinese InsolvencyIn March, Andrew Godwin, Stacey Steele and visiting research scholar Associate Professor Jin Chun brought together a group of lawyers and academics to discuss Chinese Insolvency Law. The speakers discussed the latest developments in relation to the Chinese Enterprise Bankruptcy Law, including the role of insolvency professionals and the treatment of Secured Creditors under the law. The delegation met with insolvency professionals and toured the Supreme Court of Victoria and observed a hearing at the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

ThomsonIn April, we hosted Dr Stephen Thomson from the Chinese University of Hong Kong who gave a seminar on Chinese Conceptions of the Ombudsman: Convergence or Divergence? Dr Thomson compared the institutions that have a role similar to that of the ombudsman in each of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. He argued that the structures and powers are each very different. Of particular significance in shaping their basic mission and status within the structure of government is the legal and political historical context in which each agency was founded and the political environment in which they currently operate.

Indian Partnerships

Anup SurendranathThe first half of 2016 has seen the ALC host two superb Indian colleagues. Professor Anup Surendranath visited us from National Law University Delhi (NLUD) to teach in the LLM and JD programs and also develop collaborative comparative death penalty research with myself and Tim Lindsey. Professor Surendranath gave an outstanding lecture on death penalty litigation in India offering insights into the Indian court system, legal practice and outlining the challenges in completing the Death Penalty Research Project led by scholars and interns based at National Law University Delhi. We are delighted to welcome Professor Surendranath as an Associate of the ALC.  Two JD students will intern at NLUD this Indian summer, as part of the group of students going to work in Delhi for one month.

Professor Sudhir Krishnaswamy, one of India’s leading constitutional scholars, supported at MLS through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, spoke eloquently of the Indian Constitution in the 21st Century in April at two lectures held at MLS. In his lecture Constitutional Faith: The Indian Constitution in the 21st Century, Professor Krishnaswamy offered a vision of how the current BJP government in India was transforming the Indian Constitution. He argued that the government was working to recast the Constitution as a political document, a 'holy book', that codifies majoritarian nationalism and authorises the relentless pursuit of national pride.Sudhir Krishnaswamy

In his seminar The Basic Structure Doctrine in South Asia: Form and Function in Comparative Constitutional Law, Professor Krishnaswamy critically examined the historical development of basic structure doctrine and constitutional and political function of the basic structure doctrine in five South Asian jurisdictions. He argued that no meaningful comparison is possible without an approach that integrates legal and doctrinal form, as well as the constitutional and political function of the basic structure doctrine, as it travels across these jurisdictions.

Taking advantage of the visit to MLS of Dr Tarun Khaitan (University of Oxford), Dr Farrah Ahmed convened a round table on academic freedom in Indian universities, a real issue for universities at the current time. Please see Farrah’s summary of the roundtable included in this newsletter.

Vietnamese Research and Relationships

I visited Singapore in February 2016 to engage with young Vietnamese scholars debating the scope and possibilities for Vietnamese constitutional change. We look forward to welcoming lead Vietnamese constitutional scholar Dr Bui Ngoc Son back to Melbourne in August 2016, where Son will contribute to the joint CCCS/ALC 'Constitutional Transformation Network'. We will also launch his manuscript, Confucian Constitutionalism in East Asia (Routledge 2016).

Pip at HLUIn May, I spent time at both Hanoi Law University and the HCMC University of Law discussing both joint research (student ethics in Vietnam and comparatively across Asia, a joint research project with Hong Kong University) and death penalty debates.  There was great appetite from these State-nominated lead Vietnamese law schools for a range of joint engagements. Meeting with Graham Alliband of the Australia-Vietnam Young Leadership Dialogue brought home the extent of the AusAID cuts to Vietnamese student scholarships. Where there were 200 scholarships nationally, there will be only 50 offered in 2017, down from 80 offered in 2016.

The Vietnamese election on 22 May was proceeding as usual, with much greater attention focussed nationally on the large-scale devastation of the fishing industry in three central provinces allegedly caused by the release of toxic waste into the water system, provoking public protest in Ho Chi Minh City, among others.  The lack of a law allowing class actions now appears as a real issue in contemporary Vietnam.Pip at HLU_2

On behalf of Reprieve Australia, I interviewed prospective law firms to identify those well-placed to act for Australians facing serious drug charges in Vietnam.

Japanese Developments

In June, we farewell two of our Japanese guests, Professor Susumu Masuda and Judge Satoshi Matsumoto, both of whom have greatly contributed to the Law School and ALC programs. We look forward to closer cooperation with the Keio Law School as we explore co-teaching private international law issues with students in each country via digital technologies and greater student mobility also. We also look forward to welcoming our incoming Japanese Judge Yoshihiro Baba.

Latest Publication

Drugs Law in SE AsiaTim and I are delighted that Drugs Law and Legal Practice in Southeast Asia: ‎Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam (Hart 2016) is now available.

Further details


In the coming months we will welcome visiting scholars Professor Xie Chuanyu from the People's Public Security University of China and Professor Keiji Kawai from Japan’s Doshisha University. Dr Bui Ngoc Son will comment on Vietnamese constitutional developments; and Professor Denny Indrayana will speak on law reform within the context of Indonesia. In August, the ALC will co-host the Vietnamese law and legal institutions Doctoral Students Forum with Monash University. The ALC will also co-host a panel consisting of Jasper Kim, Fabienne Michaux, Jeremy King and Malcolm Garrow who will discuss the use of social impact bonds to fund projects, within the context of Australia, Asia and beyond.

Juris Doctor Recognised in Singapore

As reported in the press, the Juris Doctor qualifications of 10 Australian universities, including MLS, will now be recognised in Singapore.

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Professor Pip Nicholson
Asian Law Centre