Caroline Kelly

PhD Candidate


Caroline is a PhD Candidate at the Melbourne Law School. She researches in labour law and administrative law. Her PhD examines the expression of administrative law doctrines in the regulation and control of employer discretion under Australian labour law.

Caroline holds an LLM with distinction from University College London and a BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne. Prior to joining Melbourne Law School, Caroline worked as a sessional academic at the University of Sydney, Researcher to the NSW Court of Appeal, and as Associate to The Hon Justice Richard Tracey AM RFD at the Federal Court of Australia. She also practised as a solicitor in commercial dispute resolution. Caroline has published in the Australian Journal of Labour Law and the Sydney Law Review. She recently co-edited and contributed to Democracy, Social Justice and the Role of Trade Unions: We the Working People, published in 2021 by Anthem Press.

Caroline is Associate Editor of the Australian Journal of Labour Law.

Thesis Title

The Influence of Public Law Principles in Australian Labour Law

Thesis Summary

The extent to, and manner in which, doctrines of administrative law find expression in labour law has been the subject of little scholarly interrogation in Australia. In particular, whilst it has been observed that certain features of Australian labour law bear similarity to, and appear to have been influenced by, doctrines of administrative law, these connections have not been investigated in any detail.

This thesis seeks to commence that inquiry by examining the way in which administrative law doctrines – such as procedural fairness, reasonableness and proportionality – are reflected in the regulation and control of employer discretion within the employment relationship. To this end, three case studies are examined: the creation of the employment relationship, the control and discipline of employees during employment and termination of employment. This thesis argues that administrative law doctrines find expression in labour law because the two fields share a common normative concern with the control and distribution of power and its abuse. It is submitted that administrative law doctrines do and should play an important role in shaping the nature and scope of employer power in the inherently uneven relationship of employment.


  • Employment Law
  • Labour Law
  • Administrative / Public Law