UCL Faculty of Laws


Online | From Parker to the Australia Acts

04 February 2021, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

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A Current Legal Problems Lecture to be delivered by Professor Mark Lunney (King's College London)

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UCL Laws

From Parker to the Australia Acts: Sir Victor Windeyer and the short-lived triumph of the independent Australian Britons

Speaker: Professor Mark Lunney (King's College London)
Chair: His Excellency The Honourable George Brandis QC (High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Australian Government)

About the Lecture

Conventional accounts of the emergence of Australian legal independence see a direct connection between the decision of the High Court of Australia in Parker v R in 1963 to the passing of the Australia Acts in 1986. On this account the end point of the Australia Acts was the inevitable conclusion of a process that began in 1963.

Drawing on the historiography of British race patriotism in Australia, and the judgments, writings and correspondence of Sir Victor Windeyer, this lecture challenges this linear connection. British race patriotism remained an important cultural dynamic for the period under review and the manner in which Australian courts, particularly the High Court, exercised its new-found freedom was mediated through a complex mix of sentiment, legality and pragmatism.

For a period in the late 1960s it seemed that the High Court might be at the centre of a new Commonwealth 'corpus iuris', a model that might retain much of what was thought good about the common law that was a component of British race patriotism. The failure of the Privy Council and the House of Lords in two key cases, one in the late 1960s one in early 1970s, to adopt the 'corpus iuris' model as fully as they might have forced the British race patriots to resort to a more abstract notion of the shared common law tradition. Combined with the increasing need to populate the Australian 'new nationalism' of the 1960s and 70s with some content, the adoption of the Australia Acts affirmed a distinctly Australian commitment to common law values within a much looser framework of a Commonwealth 'corpus iuris' than Windeyer's generation may have hoped.

About the Speaker

Mark Lunney is a Professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. He is also a Professor in the School of Law at the University of New England, Armidale, Australia, and a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Laws, University College London. His research interests are the law of tort, and the history of the common law and legal profession. He has published extensively on the law of torts in both Australia and the United Kingdom. He is the inaugural Australian member, and a member of the Executive Committee, of the World Tort Law Society, Junior Vice-President and Council member of the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History, a Fellow of the Australian Centre for Private Law at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland, a member of the European Centre for Tort and Insurance Law in Vienna, and an Adjunct Research Fellow of the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture. His monograph, A History of Australian Tort Law 1901-1945: England’s Obedient Servant?’ was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. In September 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.

Watch the video directly on our YouTube Channel or view it below

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBBaufpR1mI&feature=youtu.be


Professor Mark Lunney's paper will appear in the forthcoming Current Legal Problems volume at the end of this Academic year. Read more about Current Legal Problems and to view previous volumes.

About Current Legal Problems

The Current Legal Problems (CLP) lecture series and annual volume was established over fifty five years ago at the Faculty of Laws, University College London and is recognised as a major reference point for legal scholarship.