Historical Foundations of Australian Law

21 August 2013

From left to right: Ruth Higgins, Commonwealth Solicitor-General, Justin T. Gleeson, SC,Chief Justice of Australia, The Hon. Justice Robert French, AC, James Waton and Professor Elisabeth Peden

Sydney Law School staff and alumni have contributed significantly to a new history of the Australian legal system.

Historical Foundations of Australian Law - Volume I & Volume II contains 31 essays by distinguished judges and practitioners and academics and provides an analysis of how Australian law has reached its present state.

It was launched at special function recently by the Chief Justice of Australia, The Hon. Justice Robert French, AC.

Both volumes are edited by Professor Elisabeth Peden (BA 1992, LLB 1994), the Commonwealth Solicitor-General, Justin T. Gleeson, SC (BA 1982, LLB 1984) and Barrister, James Watson a currently enrolled PhD candidate who also teaches Legal History at Sydney Law School.

The first volume, Institutions, Concepts and Personalities, contains incisive assessments of key figures such as Sir Owen Dixon and Justice Joseph Story (by Justices Hayne and Allsop respectively), and of key developments such as the establishment of an Australian land law, the reception of the common law, the growth to nationhood, the changing role of precedent and the separation of powers.

There are essays on the very early influences on Australian law from the leading early texts (Glanvill and Bracton), from early English statutes and from Roman law.

There are essays on the growth of equity, and even a modern dialogue on the Judicature legislation. And there are accounts of legal procedure, which is ultimately the source of much substantive law, and of the jurisprudential figures who have sought to analyse law.

The second volume, Commercial Common Law, complements the first: distinguished judges, practitioners and academics write on many aspects of commercial practice, often viewed through more than one prism.

Thereare chapters on money and bills of exchange, and cheques and banking, and on the actions often associated with them (notably debt and conversion), and on Lord Mansfield's contribution to commercial law.

There are chapters on how the basic elements of the law of torts and contract came into existence, from a variety of perspectives.

There are analyses of privilege, defamation, assignment and implied terms.

There are chapters on corporations, agency and insolvency, and a notable one on restitution (by Ian Jackman SC) that poses a challenge to thinking which has become orthodox outside Australia.

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 5702013e6630185c005c3448443a39061c3456212f414a2e3413443805