In an interview with Professor Ian Ramsay, Professor Harold Ford provided insights into the early teaching of corporate law at the University of Melbourne
"I should first explain how Company Law came into the LLB course at the University of Melbourne. Company Law became a subject in its own right in 1948. The first lecturer was a barrister, Douglas Menzies (later Sir Douglas, and a judge of the High Court). He had been co-author of Victorian Company Law and Practice, an annotation for practitioners. The other author was Bernard O'Dowd, Victorian Parliamentary Draftsman and a radical poet.
Before 1948 there were a few lectures as part of Equity, a large three-lectures-per-week subject dealing with the miscellany of matters which had been within the jurisdiction of courts of Equity. Introduction to the LLB curriculum in 1948 of Company Law together with Taxation, Domestic Relations and Industrial Law as separate subjects resulted from a successful campaign by some members of the Law Institute to persuade the Faculty of Law to make the LLB course more relevant to the needs of practising solicitors. Earlier, members of the Faculty, including some senior barristers, resisted that because they considered that the LLB course should concentrate on legal principle as developed in case law. Quite apart from the Faculty's lack of resources to do more, it was thought that only study of legal principles would supply the intellectual challenge required at University level. The view was taken that Law graduates with a firm grasp of fundamental principles could master companies legislation by themselves. The controversy is well described in John Waugh's history of the Law School. By the late 1940s growing complexity in commercial dealings and developments in other law schools made it imperative that the law course should include company law.
I first lectured in Company Law in 1961 at the Australian National University. Upon my return from the Australian National University to the University of Melbourne in 1962 to take up appointment as Professor of Commercial Law in succession to Professor FP Donovan, it so happened that the part-time lecturer in Company Law, John Young, wished to retire and the Dean, Professor Zelman Cowen, asked me to lecture in the subject. The Melbourne school, under the guidance of Professor Cowen, was then changing its character. Many subjects that had been lectured in by part-time lecturers were gradually becoming the responsibility of a growing number of full-time teachers."
The following is information about some of the early teachers of corporate law at the University of Melbourne
Sir Douglas Menzies (1907 – 1974)
Douglas Menzies was the first teacher of company law (as it was then known) when the subject was first taught in 1948. He was later a Judge of the High Court of Australia.
Information about Sir Douglas Menzies is available in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
Sir Keith Aickin (1916-1982)
Keith Aickin was the Independent Lecturer in Company Law from 1951 to 1956. Like Sir Douglas Menzies, he was later a Judge of the High Court of Australia.
Information about Sir Keith Aickin is available in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
Sir John McIntosh Young (1919 – 2008)
John Young was the Independent Lecturer in Company Law from 1957 to 1962. He was later the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria. He was also the co-author of Sir Gordon Wallace and John McIntosh Young, Australian Company Law and Practice (Law Book Co., 1965).
The following articles provide further information about Sir John Young:
'Traditionalist faithful to spirit of the law', The Age (online), 10 October 2008
'Obituary: Sir John Young AC KCMG', Herald Sun (online), 11 November 2008
'Judge who nabbed Rudolf Hess', Sydney Morning Herald (online), 16 October 2008
Professor Harold Ford (1920 – 2012)
Professor Harold Ford taught at the University of Melbourne from 1949 to 1984, apart from two years when he was Foundation Dean and Robert Garran Professor of Law at the Australian National University.
The following articles provide further information about Professor Ford:
Ian Ramsay, 'Professor Harold Ford and the Development of Australian Corporate Law' (2011) 29 Company and Securities Law Journal 30 – 40
Justice Julie Dodds-Streeton, '"Wrote the book" on commercial law", The Age (online), 2 November 2012
Allen Afterman (1941 – 1992)
Allen Afterman was a corporate law academic at the University of Melbourne and later a poet. He is known for his 1970 book, Company Directors and Controllers, which was one of the earliest Australian books on the duties of company directors, for his 1972 book with Robert Baxt, Cases and Materials on Corporations and Associations, and for his influential 1969 article published in the Virginia Law Review titled 'Statutory Protection for Oppressed Minority Shareholders: A Model for Reform'.