Good Process and Quality Control on Economic Regulation: The Case of Competition Policy

(2 December 2014)

Speaker: Professor William Kovacic, George Washington University

Financial Regulation in Asia - Conference

(1 December 2014)

Speakers included: Professor Kevin Davis, Professor Andrew Walter, Andrew Godwin, Professor Ian Ramsay, Professor Douglas Arner, Dr Michael Taylor.

Conference program

Diagnostic of a Successful Business Human Rights Campaign

(25 November 2014)

Speaker: Chris Jochnick, Oxfam America

Description: Two years ago, Oxfam launched Behind the Brands targeting the 10 most powerful food and beverage companies on a range of human rights issues. Through a range of tactics – shareholder action, social media, consumer pressure, public stunts – the campaign has succeeded in wresting major commitments from global brands. This talk will take you inside the campaign and discuss what implications it has for future work in the field of business and human rights.

Presentation slides

Book Launch: Directors' Duties: Principles and Application by Dr Rosemary Langford

(5 November 2014)

Speaker: Justice Marcia Neave AO, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria

The Role of Statute in Commercial Law

(23 October 2014)

Speakers: Professor Elise Bant, Associate Professor Jeannie Paterson and Dr Rosemary Langford, Melbourne Law School

The Supreme Court of Victoria Commercial Law Conference: Current Issues in Commercial Law

(9 October 2014)

Speakers: Neil Young QC; The Hon Associate Justice Mark Derham; The Hon Justice John Digby; Jon Webster, Partner, Allens Linklaters; Professor Ian Ramsay; Paul Anastassiou QC; Professor Elise Bant; Philip Crutchfield QC; The Hon Justice James Elliott.

Harold Ford Memorial Lecture: Directors' Duties and a Company's Creditors

(19 August 2014)

Speaker: Justice Kenneth Hayne, High Court of Australia

Private Equity and Hedge Funds after the Global Financial Crisis

Melbourne (17 July 2014) Sydney (22 July 2014)

Speaker: Mr Timothy Spangler, University of California, Los Angeles

Description: As the recession stutters onwards systemic and structural causes for the financial crash continue to dominate international news and debate. Never has there been such an appetite and desire to understand the financial institutions that govern us. Despite growing public interests, alternative investment vehicles such as private equity and hedge funds remain elusive. Both have always had a unique position in the market, designed as they are to function outside the rules that govern other financial organisations. But what is it that they do and - significantly - how is it that they have prospered since the 2008 financial meltdown despite the introduction of new regulatory regimes?

Repeat Bankruptcies and Recent Developments in Canadian Consumer Bankruptcy Law

(14 July 2014)

Speaker: Associate Professor Thomas G W Telfer, Faculty of Law, Western University, Canada

Description: One of the often-cited purposes of bankruptcy law is to permit the rehabilitation of the debtor as a citizen unfettered by past debts. The bankruptcy regime thus allows an honest but unfortunate debtor to obtain a fresh start through the discharge. However, Canadian bankruptcy law has long taken the position that a repeat bankruptcy will preclude an order of an absolute discharge. The different treatment of repeat bankrupts suggests that there are other policy objectives at play beyond rehabilitation. While the court must consider the interests of the debtor and creditors in a contested discharge hearing an equally important consideration is the protection of the integrity of the bankruptcy system. Where there are repeat bankruptcies the court’s focus shifts from rehabilitation of the debtor to the integrity of the bankruptcy regime, the protection of creditors and the public. These traditional considerations have been altered by recent amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). The presentation will examine repeat bankruptcies and consider other recent developments in Canadian consumer bankruptcy law.

Presentation slides

Research paper

Re-evaluating Intellectual Property Rights in the World Trade Organisation

(4 June 2014)

Speaker: Professor Bryan Mercurio, Chinese University of Hong Kong

DescriptionThis seminar will focus on whether there is need to re-evaluate intellectual property rights and protection (in particular patent rights) as part of a post-Doha agenda for the World Trade Organization (WTO). The seminar will discuss the link between The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and innovation, question the link between strong intellectual property rights and increased innovation (particularly in the software/technology industry) and seek alternatives to the present system.

Shadow Banking: Challenges and Approaches

(23 May 2014)

Speaker: Professor Douglas Arner, University of Hong Kong

Description: Shadow banking - credit intermediation outside the traditional banking system - has arisen as a major global issue in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis. This presentation will consider the global context of and international regulatory responses to shadow banking and their implications for finance. At the same time, in East Asia, shadow banking typically takes different forms and raises different issues, requiring different responses. The presentation will thus also consider possible regional approaches in addition to those at the global level.

Presentation slides

Stored-Value Cards - Innovations in Payment Markets

(29 April 2014)

Speaker: Dr Liran Haim, University of Haifa and Bar-llan University

Stored-Value Cards (which include gift cards, payroll cards and the like) are the latest innovation in the payment card field. They possess enormous potential to solve some of the payment market’s most embarrassing failures. They also receive constant criticism by consumer policy makers and media outlets around the world. What is it that sets stored-value cards apart from credit and debit cards that so many of us customarily use? What is their place in today’s payment market?

Dr Liran Haim will discuss the rapidly growing market role of stored-value cards, their social benefits, the legal framework which governs their use and their place in the Australian payment market.

Are Nudges Legitimate Regulatory Policy Instruments?

(24 April 2014)

Speaker: Professor Karen Yeung, King's College London

Description: ‘Nudge’ is one of the latest regulatory policy innovations that is currently fashionable in both the UK and the USA. This widely publicised, albeit controversial idea, originates from the 2008 best-selling book by economist Richard Thaler and legal scholar Cass Sunstein. They build upon the findings of behavioural scientists concerned with understanding human decision-making that demonstrate how individuals systematically fail to make rational welfare-optimising decisions. Instead, human decision-making is prone to a range of ‘cognitive biases’ prompting us routinely to make decisions that fail to promote our best interests.

On this basis, Sunstein and Thaler call on public authorities and other regulators to ‘nudge’ people to make decisions that serve their own long-term interests without removing their right to choose. Nudges involve purposefully re-designing the ‘choice architecture’ in which individual decision-making takes place to alter people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.

For example, Britain’s nudge unit has employed nudges to improve tax compliance. Although Australian policy-makers have not yet embraced nudge techniques with the same degree of enthusiasm or fanfare as their British and American counterparts, this may be set to change.

What are we to make of these techniques? Do they offer, as Thaler and Sunstein suggest, a coherent regulatory philosophy that offers a middle way between advocates of strong and weak regulation?

In this seminar, Professor Yeung will explore the idea of nudges, explaining how they can be understood as one form of ‘design-based’ approaches to regulation, and critically examine the conditions under which they might (or might not) be regarded as a valuable and legitimate regulatory policy technique.

Presentation slides

Development Finance - A Facilitated Conversation

(18 March 2014)

Speaker: Jan Job de Vries Robbe, Dutch Development Bank FMO

Description: Development finance bridges the gap between private commercial finance and public development finance. Post GFC, its importance in developing markets has increased significantly, together with the range of financial services and products that it offers. What is it that sets development finance apart from conventional forms of finance? And does it provide a useful role in today’s financial markets?

Andrew Godwin (Transactional Law Group, Melbourne Law School) will facilitate a conversation with Mr de Vries Robbe on the following talking points:

  • What is development finance? Does it have a future post GFC?
  • Who are the actors?
  • How do development finance companies differentiate themselves from other lenders? What is their added value?
  • How can development finance be enhanced?

Consumer Bankruptcy Practice in the United States

(7 March 2014)

Speaker: Ms Sari Kurland

Description: This seminar will focus on US bankruptcy law including the life of a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. Topics include:

  • How bankruptcy helps homeowners and its limits;
  • Why a mortgage loan modification or short sale may be more desirable as well as recent trends;
  • The fight over the refusal of Congress to grant power to bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages;
  • The structure of the US Trustee program and the role of the standing Chapter 13 Trustee and the panel trustees appointed in Chapter 7 cases;
  • How the typical case has minimal court involvement, the sheer volume of cases filed in the US and how that is managed; and
  • How bankruptcy has been utilized to help homeowners since the financial crisis in 2008.