Reflections on the Legacy of Sir Gerard Brennan to Australian Public Law

Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE made an enormous contribution to Australian public law. As the first President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, he was a pioneer in Australian administrative law. As Justice and later Chief Justice of the High Court, his decisions shaped many areas of law so as to uphold the most important values underling the Australian legal system: justice, the dignity of the individual, and equality before the law.

2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the High Court’s judgment in Mabo v Queensland. Justice Brennan’s lead judgment, which rejected finally the notion of terra nullius and recognised the common law doctrine of native title, is one of his most important and enduring contributions to Australian law.

The CCCS community was deeply saddened by the passing of Sir Gerard Brennan in June 2022. In this seminar we are honoured to have been joined by His Honour Justice Stephen Gageler AC of the High Court, Mr Christopher Horan QC and chair Professor Kristen Rundle to reflect on Sir Gerard Brennan’s outstanding contributions to Australian public law and the principles and values that he demonstrated throughout his legal career.

About the panel

The Hon Stephen Gageler AC was appointed a Justice of the High Court in October 2012. At the time of his appointment he was Solicitor-General of Australia. He is a graduate of the Australian National University and has post-graduate qualifications from Harvard University. He was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1989 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2000. Before his appointment as Solicitor-General in 2008, he practised as a barrister extensively throughout Australia principally in constitutional law, administrative law and commercial law.

Christopher Horan QC is a member of the Victorian Bar with a broad public and commercial law practice with a particular interest in constitutional and administrative law. Before coming to the Bar, Chris worked for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, in the office of General Counsel and later as Counsel Assisting the Solicitor-General. Chris was an Associate in the High Court of Australia to Justice Brennan in 1993.

Kristen Rundle is a professor of law at Melbourne Law School, where she teaches and researches in the fields of legal theory and administrative law. She was co-Director of the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies from 2016-2020 and is the co-author of Principles of Administrative Law and Cases for Principles of Administrative Law (Oxford University Press: 3rd edition 2018; 4th edition forthcoming). Her book, Forms Liberate: Reclaiming the Jurisprudence of Lon L Fuller (Hart Publishing, 2012) was awarded the University of Melbourne Woodward Medal in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

View the webinar recording