MLS researchers successful in ARC funding for 2018

New research projects to be conducted by Melbourne Law School academics have been awarded major funding in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) grants.

MLS academics achieved the best result in Law Australia-wide, with 5 out of 12 Discovery Projects, and two out of five Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards.

Discovery Projects 2018

Financial exclusion, poor insurer practices and consumer protection

Associate Professor Paul Ali and Professor Ian Ramsay

This project will conduct Australia’s first large-scale empirical study examining financial exclusion and lack of access to general insurance, as well as poor insurer practices in selling insurance and handling claims. The research will also evaluate the effectiveness of the legal protections for consumers of general insurance. The expected project outcomes include law and policy reform proposals to improve the effectiveness of these protections and maximise access to general insurance, particularly for socio-economically disadvantaged consumers. This should have benefits such as an increased uptake of general insurance and improved community resilience to natural disasters and other unforeseen events.

Developing a rational law of misleading conduct

Professor Elise Bant and Associate Professor Jeannie Paterson

This project aims to investigate and promote the reform of the current confused, conflicting and costly laws of misleading conduct. Such laws are critical to maintaining a fair and efficient market economy, yet have become a mess of disparate statutory and general law rules. This work should offer significant legal, economic and social benefits by promoting more just, effective and efficient regulation of misleading conduct.

The potential and limits of international adjudication

Professor Hilary Charlesworth and Associate Professor Margaret Young

This project aims to analyse the place of adjudication in international affairs, using a case study of Australia’s extensive engagement with the International Court of Justice. This timely project will not only document an historic set of engagements spanning 70 years, but also provide guidance on when international adjudication may be productive for Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and the international legal order.

The meaning of home for children after parental separation

Professor Belinda Fehlberg, Associate Professor Kristin Natalier (Flinders University) and Associate Professor Bruce Smyth (ANU)

This project aims to identify the meaning of home for children in separated families by interviewing children and parents about children’s experiences of home and homemaking. No prior research has done so. This is despite the personal and social significance of home, the reality that most children now traverse two households if parents separate, and increasing emphasis in policy, law and professional practice on listening to children regarding their post-separation living arrangements. The anticipated goal of the project is to provide a solid basis for shifting the prevailing focus on parents’ needs in application of the law towards more child-responsive parenting arrangements.

Indonesia’s refugee policies: responsibility, security and regionalism

Professor Susan Kneebone, Dr Antje Missbach (Monash University) and Dr Heru Susetyo (Universitas Indonesia)

This project aims to analyse the formulation and implementation of Indonesia’s laws and policy on refugees and asylum seekers, by utilising original empirical research, to understand better the ‘Indonesian state’, its perceptions and responses to these issues nationally, regionally, and under the bilateral relationship with Australia. Expected benefits are strengthened institutional collaboration with Indonesian academics and policy-makers and fresh thinking on responsible regional solutions for refugee protection.

Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards 2018

Work in franchises: searching for solutions at the regulatory frontier

Dr Tess Hardy

The recent underpayment scandals that have plagued 7-Eleven, Domino’s Pizza and other franchises have generated immense public debate and prompted significant law reform in Australia. As yet, there has been limited academic consideration of the effectiveness of regulatory frameworks and initiatives designed to enhance and ensure work-related rights and responsibilities of franchise workers, franchisees and franchisors. This project aims to address a critical gap in regulatory scholarship and provide fresh empirical and theoretical insights into the effective regulation of work in franchises in Australia and beyond.

Regulating cumulative environmental effects: designing global best practice

Dr Rebecca Nelson

Scientists know that the environmental effects of separate projects can accumulate to pose significant risks. Yet law often allows unintended environmental harms by ignoring cumulative effects, or using weak controls that fail to prevent harm in practice. This research aims to analyse and evaluate the theoretical bases, adoption and use of laws regulating cumulative environmental effects in the US, EU, Canada and Australia. This project seeks to build a framework of globally relevant best practice tools for regulating cumulative effects with the aim of increasing the capacity of regulators, industry, and the community to better manage environmental harms.

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2018

Foundations of the common law library

Associate Professor Ann Genovese, Associate Professor Philip Chung (UNSW) and others [administered by UNSW]

This project aims to build a comprehensive, historical, legal resource for the whole common law world, 1215-1914. The free access ‘Foundations of Common Law Library’ will include reported cases from superior courts, and selected others, in all common law jurisdictions. It will aim to include other key materials such as treatises, legislation, and treaties and case law extracted from newspaper reports. Citations for all documents added will expand greatly an automated international historical citator to the whole of the common law world, linking past and present.

Discovery Indigenous 2018

Indigenous leaders: lawful relations from encounter to treaty

Professor Mark McMillan (RMIT), Associate Professor Ann Genovese, Associate Professor Shaun McVeigh and others [administered by RMIT]

This multi-disciplinary project draws together history, law and the creative arts to recover, make visible and make accessible the continuous traditions of Indigenous people’s leadership in conducting lawful relations in Victoria. The project aims to develop innovative and creative methods of translating these encounters and their attendant insights, in order to inform the practical activities of conducting lawful relations in the present and the future. The intended outcomes should shape critical deliberations on the future of non-Indigenous Australia’s legal and social relationships with its First Peoples, particularly regarding treaty-making.

Melbourne Law School congratulates these staff on their success and acknowledges the hard work of all staff involved in putting forward applications for Australian Research Council funding.