Secrecy, Law and Society

5 February 2014

Secrecy, Law and Society
Secrecy, Law and Society

This two-day workshop will examine how a 'culture of security' ushered in after 11 September 2001 has involved exceptional legal measures and increased recourse to secrecy on the basis of protecting public safety and national security.

However, secrecy is not confined to this development, and includes legacies of secrecy across a range of institutional and cultural settings.

With this in mind, this two day workshop will interrogate the legal as well as socio-legal dimensions of secrecy.

"In law, secrecy impacts upon the separation of powers, due process and the rule of law, raising fundamental concerns about open justice, procedural fairness and human rights," said Dr Greg Martin, from the Department of Sociology and Social Policy.

"More broadly, questions concerning secrecy involve the credibility of public and private institutions."

Workshop questions include:

  • Where is secrecy in the law and what justifies it? And how does the State keep its secrets in litigation?
  • What are the challenges posed to legal and constitutional principles, the rules of evidence, and 'traditional' mechanisms for dealing with sensitive information, such as public interest immunity? Might secrecy be remedied by human rights statutes and safeguards such as the use of special advocates?
  • What bearing does secrecy have on the media, press freedom and free speech?
    What, if any, relationship exists between secrecy, a right to privacy and breach of coincidence?
  • What might be some of the institutional effects of secrecy developments upon security and law enforcement agencies?
  • How might legal and socio-legal perspectives help make sense of cultural, historic and institutionalised forms of secrecy?

The workshop is a collaboration between the Sydney Institute of Criminology and Ross Parsons Centre for Commercial, Corporate and Securities Law at Sydney Law School and the Law & Society Research Network, at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Faculty Common Room (Level 4)
Sydney Law School
New Law Building (F10)
University of Sydney

Download the Conference Program

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 4c2b540f7e463b0a1b18233d2e025b020323130b271b0110215e57101c