This resource aims to foster greater engagement between the judiciary, the academy, and the legal profession by enabling a shared experience of the latest pieces of doctrinal research in significant and emerging areas of the law. 

Many of the articles on this page are freely available and are easily accessed by using the links. Articles that require a subscription will take you to the Law Library of Victoria website. Law Library account holders will be able to view the articles via the links on the Law Library page.

If you require assistance to access the articles, please email the Law Library. You can email the College with any feedback on this resource. To receive regular updates on all College resources, you can subscribe to the College mailing list.

View the editorial guidelines for this resource.

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    Introduction to Scholarship for the Legal Community

    In this video, practitioners, judicial officers, academics and librarians discuss the Scholarship for the Legal Community resource, including how it may be used by counsel and the Courts.
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Re-Examining the Relationship between Mutual Promises in Contract Law  
Nuwan Dias, (2022) 46(1) Melbourne University Law Review (advance). 

This article attempts to systematise the jurisprudence of mutual promises, known as the Dependency Doctrine, and demonstrate the continuing practical relevance of the doctrine. The article argues that – despite the perception that the doctrine has been usurped by the modern doctrine of termination – the doctrine persists, and serves a purpose which aligns with the values of modern contract law, including freedom of contract, the utility in providing security to transacting parties, advancing relational contracting norms, and constraining opportunism. 

Compensatory damages and the role of ‘loss’ in actions for tort and breach of contract (Law Library login required)
Cameron J Charnley, (2022) 51 Australian Bar Review 320

This article considers the High Court case of Lewis and the Victorian Supreme Court case of Leeda Projects to compare the award of compensatory damages in tort and breach of contract. The decisions illustrate the differing approaches to compensation for loss where the innocent party would, in all likelihood, have suffered the same detriment or incurred the same expense regardless of the wrongdoing. In tort, a fact-based counterfactual analysis can help to avoid awarding substantial compensatory damages for loss that is merely theoretical. In contract law, a contract has terms both express and implied, which allows for a just award of compensatory damages where a breach has deprived the offended party of an expected benefit, regardless of the inevitable expense needed to obtain it.

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    Detailed brief: Charnley, Compensatory damages and the role of ‘loss’ in actions for tort and breach of contract

    This article discusses the role of 'loss' in claims for compensatory damages by comparing two appellate decisions involving the question of damages-Lewisv Australian Capital Territory (2020) 94 ALJR 740 ('Lewis') on tort, and Leeda Projects Pty Ltd v Zeng (2020) 61 VR 384 ('Leeda Projects') on breach of contract -which engage with a plaintiff's loss differently, particularly in circumstances where a plaintiff seeks compensation for a wrong which has made no material difference.
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An Analysis of the Use of Stepping Stones Liability Against Company Directors and Officers (Law Library login required)

Ian Ramsay and Miranda Webster (2021), 50 Australian Bar Review 168

This article considers the operation of the stepping stones approach to directors’ liability and identifies controversies and concerns about the boundaries of this form of liability.  Key findings from a review of recent cases include: 1) ASIC was the plaintiff in all but one case and has had a very high success rate. 2) Stepping stones liability claims were made in relation to more private than public companies. 3) The most commonly used provision as a ‘first stepping stone’ is s 1041H of the Corporations Act on misleading or deceptive conduct. 4) Stepping stones liability arguments are most commonly used against people in executive positions — but stepping stones liability extends to any individual responsible for particular activities of the company, where a failure to provide the appropriate standard of care and diligence in exercising that responsibility leads to the company contravening the Corporations Act.

When is a sentence manifestly excessive? (NEW)
Paul McGorrery and Matthew Weatherson, (2022) 47(4) Alternative Law Journal 261–265.

This article examines 100 successful sentence appeals in Victoria between 2014 and 2020 to better understand when a sentence is manifestly excessive. The article aims to identify how much a sentence must stray from the permissible range in order to attract the classification of manifestly excessive. 

The analysis suggests that, generally, a sentence would need to receive as little as a 10% reduction to be classified as manifestly excessive and requiring rectification, rather than one where any change would amount to ‘tinkering’. This suggests that the window of a judge’s sentencing discretion is quite narrow, possibly as low as 10%. 

A Rational Approach to Victim Vulnerability in Sentencing (Law Library login required)
Mirko Bagaric, (2022) 96 Australian Law Journal 237. 

This article examines how victim vulnerability as an aggravating factor in sentencing is poorly defined and applied by courts in a perfunctory, common-sense manner. It argues that victim vulnerability overlaps with another aggravating factor – significant harm caused by an offence – and the application of both factors in sentencing can pose a risk of excessive punishment. The article suggests an alternative approach which includes a more restrictive definition of 'vulnerable victim', with only a relatively minor residual role for victim vulnerability to operate as a stand-alone aggravating consideration once significant harm is properly incorporated into the sentencing calculus.

Indigenous over-incarceration and individualised justice in light of Bugmy v The Queen (Law Library login required)
Guy C Charlton (2021), 50 Australian Bar Review 427

This article criticises the emphasis in Bugmy on individualised factors that seek to address indigeneity in sentencing in preference to a broader approach that takes judicial notice of systemic factors that may impact the determination of an appropriate sentence – as occurs in NZ and Canada.

This article argues that the requirement of formal equality in the sentencing process does not preclude taking judicial notice of systemic deprivation and how (if at all) that may have contributed to the offending. It contends that a consideration of all material factors ought necessarily to include evidence of systemic factors which provide the necessary context for understanding and evaluating the individualised information presented by counsel. 

Myths, Misconceptions and Mixed Messages: An Early Look at the New Tendency and Coincidence Evidence Provisions (Law Library login required)
David Hamer (2021), 45 Criminal Law Journal 232.

This article comments on the model provisions reforming the UEL tendency and coincidence provisions. The reforms proposed would relax the exclusionary rules so that the prosecution can more readily rely on tendency evidence in child sexual offence cases. The reforms purport to address various misconceptions, especially those which drive ‘distinctive similarity’ requirements. The article argues that the reforms are unnecessarily complex and restrictive and are more likely to increase confusion and waste time and costs than to improve understanding of the inferential value of other misconduct evidence.

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    Detailed brief: D Hamer, Myths, Misconceptions and Mixed Messages

    Hamer's article argues that while the reforms are likely to facilitate the prosecution of child sexual offences (‘CSO’), the design and drafting of the reforms are flawed in several respects.
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Injustice Arising from the Unnoticed Power of Priming: How Lawyers and Even Judges can be Misled by Unreliable Transcripts of Indistinct Forensic Audio (Law Library login required)
Helen Fraser and Yuko Kinoshita (2021), 45(3) Criminal Law Journal 142

This article argues that there is an urgent need to change legal procedures for admission of police transcripts of indistinct forensic audio in criminal trials because legal safeguards intended to mitigate any risk that an inaccurate transcript might mislead the jury are inadequate. The article describes an experiment showing that personal confidence is a poor indicator of perceptual accuracy, since listeners can be easily and unwittingly "primed" to hear words suggested by an inaccurate transcript. The article suggests that an evidence-based process should be adopted to ensure all indistinct forensic audio used in court is accompanied by a reliable transcript.

A common law vindicatio? Property rights as an independent basis for restitution
Rachael Short, (2022) 51(2) Australian Bar Review 264 
(NEW) (Law Library login required)

An increasing number of Australian cases recognise that a victim of theft has a right at common law to personal restitutionary remedy against an innocent ‘volunteer’ recipient of stolen money. This article explores the two leading justifications for the victim’s claim against an innocent volunteer: unjust enrichment and vindication of a pre-existing property right. This article concludes that the second justification is more compelling. The proprietary basis of the claim explains why a defendant is only required to make restitution for retained profits and establishes the legitimacy of the plaintiff’s claim to the increased value of traceable proceeds of their property.

Fiduciary Duties of Representative Parties: Conflicting Case Law and Conflicting Interests (Law Library login required)
Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz, (2022) 96 Australian Law Journal 185.

There is conflicting authority in Australia as to the whether a representative plaintiff in class actions owes fiduciary duties to group members. This article attempts to resolve the conflict by reference to the underpinning principles, the nature and history of representative litigation, and a comparative analysis with United States jurisprudence. The article concludes that there is a strong argument that fiduciary duties are indeed owed by a representative plaintiff, and gives some practical examples of the content of such duties.

Private Law, Conscience and Moral Reasoning: The Role of the Judge 
Justice Chris Maxwell and Matthew Harding, (2022) 46(1) Melbourne University Law Review (advance). 

This article considers private law doctrines that invoke conscience to set standards for citizens in their dealings with each other. It argues that these doctrines provide guidance to parties to minimise the risk of unconscionable conduct arising in transactions, and that this is achieved by provoking the parties’ moral reasoning. The article suggests that when judges apply these doctrines to evaluate parties’ past conduct, they should explain their decisions in terms that expose their own moral reasoning, as this will clarify the need for moral engagement on the part of transacting parties.

Rebutting the presumption of intentional revocation of a Will by destruction: An examination of electronically signed and remotely witnessed Wills (Law Library login required)
Christie Gardiner and Lee Aitken, (2022) 51 Australian Bar Review 70 

This article discusses whether and how the introduction of electronic execution and remote witnessing and attestation of Wills in response to COVID-19 disrupts the common law presumption of intentional revocation of a Will by destruction when the original Will is last traced to the testator’s possession but cannot be found on their death.  

This article argues that the nature of electronic Wills can both pose challenges for rebutting the presumption of destruction, and provide a level of assurance that can overcome some of these challenges. These challenges include poor access to digital records, uncertainty as to which record is the original file and which the copy, and the risks associated with ambiguous document storage practices.  

Richardson v Oracle more than half a decade on: Did the ‘ground break’ for victim compensation? (Law Library login required)
Joshua Taylor, (2022) 47(1) Alternative Law Journal 36. 

This article examines whether the decision in Richardson v Oracle Corp (Australia) Pty Ltd (2014) 223 FCR 334 to increase compensation awards for victims of sexual harassment and discrimination led to an opening of floodgates for the quantum awarded in these cases. It concludes that, although damages have increased, they have increased less dramatically than anticipated, particularly where the claim is for discrimination rather than sexual harassment and where the claimant cannot demonstrate a recognisable psychiatric injury. The article concludes that further reform is required to ensure that the harms of discrimination are not minimised or undervalued.

Unconscionable conduct under the Australian Consumer Law: Clarification and Contention (Law Library login required)
Philip H Clarke (2021), 49 Australian Business Law Review 180

This article examines the Full Federal Court's decisions in ACCC v Quantum Housing Group Pty Ltd (No 2) [2021] FCAFC 40 and Good Living Co Pty Ltd v Kingsmede Pty Ltd [2021] FCAFC 33, which leave unanswered the question of whether s 21 can be invoked by a third party to obtain a remedy when the conduct is unconscionable towards others and if so, in what circumstances. 

This article argues that third parties can invoke s 21 on the basis that the wording of the provision does not require the target of impugned conduct to be the other party to the transaction/ The wording is a deliberate choice not to restrict the scope of the provision and the matters listed in s 22 on unconscionability are not exhaustive or restrictive and suggest no basis for interpreting s 21 narrowly. The legislative purpose tends to favour a broad interpretation to enable s 21 to be relied upon by third-party victims.

Causation in Misuse of Market Power Claims under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (Law Library login required)
Katharine Kemp (2022), 49(4) Australian Business Law Review 208

Following amendment of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) s 46, in 2017, a finding of misuse of market power no longer depends on proof of a causal link between a firm's substantial market power and the impugned conduct. The focus now is on the causal link between its conduct and the alleged actual or likely substantial lessening of competition. This article addresses the challenge of analysing cause and effects under the amended s 46. It proposes approaches to causation in challenging cases, namely those involving multiple causes; monopoly leveraging claims; and the special dynamics of multi-sided platforms.

Te Ao Mārama – a vision for the District Court of New Zealand (Law Library login required)
Judge Heemi Taumaunu (2022), 96 Australian Law Journal 94 

The Te Ao Mārama model addresses challenges including that Māori are disproportionately over-represented in a monocultural and monolingual justice system that fails to incorporate Indigenous culture and language, or to tap into support and knowledge held in Indigenous communities. 

The proposed changes, which include infusing Indigenous language and culture into the system, increasing community involvement to improve information available to judges, toning down formalities, and a focus on addressing underlying causes of offending, are Court-led and judge-led initiatives which do not require any legislative change.

An Institutional Justification for the Principle of Legality 
Lisa Burton Crawford, (2022) 45(2) Melbourne University Law Review (advance)

This article argues that the presumption of statutory interpretation known as the 'principle of legality' cannot be justified as a tool for ascertaining parliamentary intention, nor is it a democracy-enhancing device. This article proposes an alternative justification for the principle of legality through which the courts are permitted to treat the common law as a relevant part of the context that informs statutory meaning, by reason of the courts constitutional function and the institutional setting in which statutory interpretation occurs.

Recurring Issues in Civil Appeals – Part 2 (Law Library login required)
Thomas Prince, (2022) 96 Australian Law Journal 273

This article discusses the review of factual findings on appeal – noting that the ultimate question for an appellate court remains whether the finding in issue was incorrect, and considers the raising of points for the first time on appeal. This includes a ‘new trial point’ ( a successful argument would result in a new trial being ordered) and a ‘verdict point’ (a successful argument would result in, or lead to, a verdict or judgment in favour of the party raising it). The article argues that much intermediate appellate authority is inconsistent with both High Court authority and general principle on the issue of when a new point can be raised on appeal.

Engaging with the Survivors' Reality of Domestic Violence: A Discourse Analysis of Judicial Understanding in Survivor-Perpetrated Homicides (NEW)
Patricia Easteal and Emma Roff, (2021) 47(1) Monash University Law Review 252–273.

This preliminary empirical study found that the family violence evidence provisions introduced into the Crimes Act 1958 and Jury Directions Act 2015 have played a role in shaping how Victorian judges understand the reality of domestic violence and its role in survivor-perpetrated homicide cases. Victorian judges have a “moderately better” understanding compared to their NSW counterparts, where there are no equivalent evidentiary changes. The researchers analysed judicial language in a sample of survivor-perpetrated homicide cases in Victoria and NSW over the past decade. This demonstrates that judicial understanding of the social context of coercive control is essential to the application of legal tests on liability and sentence in survivor-perpetrated homicide cases.

Judges and Academics, and the Endless Road to Unattainable Perfection (NEW)
Lord Burrows (Lionel Cohen Lecture, Law Faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 25 October 2021).

This speech suggests that legal academics’ and judges’ respect and appreciation of each other’s work benefits the understanding and development of the law. However, the speech argues that the complementary role that academics and judges play is threatened by a trend in legal scholarship away from doctrinal legal scholarship towards one more concerned with ‘deep theory’ and with reasoning from disciplines other than law.

What is the Role of a legal academic? a Response to Lord Burrows (NEW)
Geoffrey Samuel, (2022) 2(3)(2) Amicus Curiae 305.

This article challenges some of the assumptions in Lord Burrows’ Lionel Cohen Lecture. It interrogates the perspective that a legal academic’s role necessarily bears a duty to aid the legal profession and the courts, given expectations about what amounts to good research. It also challenges the distinction between practical legal scholarship and ‘deep theory’. The article argues that a greater understanding both of the nature of disciplines and of some of the epistemic problems in law as a discipline would assist the complementary relationship between judges and academics more than a retreat from ‘deep theory’.

The Academy and The Courts: What Do They Mean To Each Other Today? (NEW)
Kiefel CJ, (Speech, Australian Academy of Law Patrons, Brisbane, 31 October 2019).

This speech acknowledges that legal academic writing directed to judges is a valuable resource for judges given shared concerns with the correct and coherent development of the law. It argues that academic lawyers are well placed to provide commentary both in terms of their focus on particular topics and the time available to them. Judges are under special constraints and therefore appreciate academic literature which is on point and useful. This speech argues that the utility of such writings depends largely upon the understanding of an academic author of the role of a judge and how judge-made law is developed.

Taking Judging and Judges Seriously: Facts, Framework and Function in Australian Constitutional Law (NEW)
Justice Gordon (Lucinda Lecture, Monash University, Melbourne, 2 August 2022)

This speech explores the roles judges, legal practitioners and the academy each have in influencing and shaping the development of Australian constitutional law. Relevantly, it argues that the principles and standards applied by judges in determining constitutional cases ought to be informed by and developed in light of the work of practitioners and the academy to avoid rigidity in judicial thinking and stagnation in the law. The speech argues that the utility of academic work in shaping the law depends on the work being ‘reflexive scholarship’ or a ‘two-way conversation’ between judges and the academy, rather than being addressed to other academics.