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In_Print

In_Print

By Law Institute Journal

Continuing Legal Education Opinions 

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This month’s books cover the Crown, maritime legacies, Sir Owen Dixon’s papers  and international business law in Australasia.

Maritime Legacies and the Law book coverMaritime Legacies and the Law

Craig Forrest, Edward Elgar, 2019, hb

I was asked to review this book noting my experience as a lawyer, author and legal officer in the Royal Australian Navy.

The book charts the history of naval conflict in great detail, discussing hostile engagements and the outcome of the sinking of civilian and military ships. Citing historical accounts, the author explores the intricacies of the law relating to salvage and the preservation of ship wrecks as historical, archaeological sites, memorials and maritime war graves.

The author’s skill in exploring the complexity of the law and international conventions on the law of the sea is precise. In his use of non-legalese, the author explores the law as it has developed and currently exists. He also provides persuasive arguments and solutions for improved governance and resolving issues such as the state ownership of naval wrecks, state immunity and the law relating to salvage.

The final chapter of the book invites the reader to consider world heritage issues, the development of international conventions to preserve wrecks, war graves and the circumstances in which it is permissible to interfere with a wreck.

The book’s standard of presentation, editing and binding is a credit to the author and publisher. The contents of chapters, tables, legislation, citation of cases and index is professional and easy to follow when referring to matters discussed in the various chapters. The citing of footnotes is accurate and detailed.

I commend the book to those with an interest in naval history.

James Unkles, lawyer

Jesting Pilate book cover

Jesting Pilate

Susan Crennan and William Gummow (eds), Papers and addresses by the Rt Hon Sir Owen Dixon, 3rd edn, 2019, The Federation Press, hb $120

This third edition of a collection of Sir Owen Dixon’s papers, which primarily comprises addresses delivered by Sir Owen throughout his illustrious career, has been edited by the Hon Susan Crennan and the Hon William Gummow, in light of the incredible contributions made by the late James Merralls QC. 

Ashamedly, prior to reading this book, this reader knew little of Sir Owen other than what is contained in the law reports, and of his reputation as one of Australia’s greatest jurists. 

This book further demonstrates Sir Owen’s mastery of law, the eloquent expressions of his intellect, and his staunch commitment to the Australian Constitution as the protector of personal liberty. But it also does much more. In addition to celebrating his accomplishments, the papers provide valuable insights to Sir Owen himself.

Sir Owen’s papers contain his opinions, ideals and perspectives on a wide range of issues, not just in law. From his passion for the Australian Constitution and the importance of the Constitution of the United States in its development; his noble ideals of the common law; his view of the role of science and medicine; his love of Aristotle and other classic philosophers; to his self-reflection, each of his addresses reveals a brilliant and discerning mind. Add the unique kaleidoscope of sociopolitical tension and turmoil that he lived through, from the great depression and world war, to the advancement of technology, the papers also provide a snapshot of history as experienced by a titan.

David Kim, barrister

The Crown book cover

The Crown

Martin Hinton and John M Williams (eds), Essays on its manifestation, power and accountability, 2018, University of Adelaide Press, pb $99

As Justice Stephen Gageler points out in his foreword to this informative and stimulating text, the Crown as a notion is not a product of the law and defies legal definition. In Sue v Hill, members of the High Court outlined its various manifestations in Australia. Clearly, it is not limited to the monarch, styled “Queen of Australia” since 1953. Modern interpretation also extends it beyond the seven vice-regal offices in Australia to “the government” in contradistinction to the legislative function bestowed on the state and federal parliaments.

The 17 chapters in this stimulating and readable text examine various aspects of the Crown. The contributors include esteemed judges, barristers and academics.

Given the terms of s61 of the Constitution, and the federal nature of the Australian polity, there is, not unexpectedly, a chapter focusing on the various vice regal offices.

Government is, or is collectively controlled by, a cabinet of ministers responsible for their disparate departments. However, chapters in this book which examine individual office holders within “government”, in its broadest sense, focus on the offices with legal functions for the Crown: the Attorneys-General, the Directors of Public Prosecutions and the Commonwealth Solicitor General. 

There are also thematic chapters devoted to considering the immunities of the Crown, the role of the Crown as prosecutor, the Crown as model litigant and the relationship between the Crown and Australian Indigenous peoples.

Interesting overall themes emerged from the book. First, the extent to which the Crown, in its broadest manifestation, is a distinctly Australian creation. Second, the identity of and relationship between the Crown in the right of the state and the Crown recognised in or created by the Australian Constitution. Third, the extent to which the exercise of non-statutory power by the Crown at federal and state levels is justiciable.

This book will be of interest not only to constitutional and administrative lawyers but also to those involved in criminal prosecutions and those who represent government or quasi-government agencies.

Cahal Fairfield, barrister

Law of International Business in Australasia book cover

Law of International Business in Australasia

Vivienne Bath and Gabriel Moens, 2nd edn, 2019, The Federation Press, pb $120

It has been 10 years since the first edition by New Zealander Robin Burnett and Australian Vivienne Bath. Bath has been joined for this edition by Gabriel Moens who brings extensive European and international expertise. Dr Luca Castorelli of UNCITRAL is also a contributor. 

The book covers the core topics of international business transactions and international commercial terms (Chapter 1), carriage of goods by sea and air (Chapter 2), financing of trade (Chapter 3), international and Australasian regimes in trade including services and intellectual property, and international efforts to combat corruption (Chapter 4). Chapter 5 covers bilateral and plurilateral trade and investment regimes and the corresponding domestic laws. Chapter 6 is a good practical guide to conducting international business and Chapter 7 covers international commercial dispute settlement. Digital currencies, data protection, electronic bills of lading and other new developments in international trade are well covered.

It is useful to have Australian and New Zealand perspectives as well as coverage of their own complex free trade agreement. Both also participate in many international trade bodies and arrangements. It is unfortunate that they are not able to combine forces in negotiating free trade agreements with third countries. 

Navigation of the trinomial system of chapters, sections and paragraphs could have been eased with headers or footers. A bibliography and further reading would also have been useful but the footnotes are excellent. The book will be useful for students, scholars, practitioners and business people. ■

Dr Matt Harvey, Victoria Law School


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