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By Law Institute Journal

Continuing Legal Education 


Essays in Honour of Chief Justice French

Henry Jackson (ed), 2019, The Federation Press, hb $135

The editor of this volume describes it as a festschrift, that is, a collection of writings published in honour of a scholar. In a general sense, this is accurate, as the book is comprised of essays honouring former High Court Chief Justice Robert French’s contribution to Australian legal thought. Yet French is not just a scholar, he is what we might call a scholarly practitioner, someone who thinks deeply about the law while being engaged in the daily grind of its application. Fittingly, all of the contributors to this volume – including Justices Gordon and Edelman of the High Court – fall into the same category. The result is a book that brims with both theoretical and practical insights.

The eight essays in this book were each originally presented at a 2018 colloquium held to honour French’s legal career to date. Rather than a comprehensive summary of French’s personal jurisprudence, the book offers close analysis of six discrete topics: statutory interpretation; executive power; judicial power; science and the law; criminal appeals and native title. Each essay begins with French’s contribution to the field but then telescopes out to a wider discussion of recent developments. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable book that celebrates French’s achievements while also providing a useful survey of the current state of the law in each of the six areas under consideration. Given that the indefatigable French does not look to be slowing down since leaving the bench, we might expect an updated edition in the not too distant future.

Julian R Murphy, criminal appeals manager, North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency

Contemporary Human Rights Challenges 

C Festman, A Goldberg, T Gray, L Ison, R Nathan and M Newman (eds), 2019, hb $242

In 2018 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) celebrated its 70th anniversary. Born from the ruins of World War II, the visionary and aspirational text has been used as a driving force for the rise of the United Nations as well as a human rights measurement tool in regards to the 30 Articles contained therein. This book is a collection of essays that grew out of a memorial seminar on the UDHR celebrating the work of noted human rights scholar Clemens Nathan and the importance of the UDHR in contemporary society.

The book is divided into six sections with the essays written by various authors focusing on a particular aspect of an article of the UDHR, covering Articles 1 through to 30. Examples include George R Wilkes essay analysing religious-secular tensions in the rise of the contemporary state and former US president Jimmy Carter who laments the challenges for the human rights movement and sharply contrasts previous administrations’ approach to rights compared to that of the contemporary US and seemingly global approach. This book expertly showcases the complexity surrounding the relevance of the UDHR in modern society.

Samaya Borom, Monash University

Victorian Criminal Procedure: State and Federal Law

Richard Fox and Nadia Deltondo, 15th edn, 2019, Federation Press, pb $110

The increasing complexity of criminal procedure is reflected in the size of the editions of this work. This is the 15th edition and runs to 566 pages. The sixth edition contained 275 pages, while the fourth edition contained only 150 pages.

This edition deals with the procedures for prosecuting offenders against federal and state law involving criminal matters. It dilates upon the courts exercising criminal jurisdiction in Victoria – Magistrates’ Court, Children’s Court, County Court, Supreme Court and federal courts.

It also deals with questions of bail, committal proceedings, trial of indictable offences, sentencing and appeals. Fitness to stand trial, notices of alibi and prerogative writs are also covered.

This area has become an increasingly detailed and complex area of the criminal justice system over the last few decades, with technological developments such as audiovisual links for hearings.

More than 100 pages of the text deals with the trial of indictable offences, while sentencing matters occupy more than 150 pages. 

Those practitioners who handle criminal matters at all levels will find this a valuable resource.

Graham Fricke, retired County Court judge

Butt’s Land Law

Brendan Edgeworth,7th edn, Lawbook Co, Thomson Reuters, 2017

Seven years have passed since the publication of the sixth edition of this book formerly edited by Peter Butt. This edition, edited by Brendan Edgeworth, attempts to cover what he describes as the “avalanche” of case law and legislation over that time. Edgeworth has also adopted a new structure to Butt’s work, dividing the work into four parts – Foundation; Estates and Interests; Land Title Regimes and Non-Consensual Acquisition of Land.

Edgeworth has removed much of the previous edition’s material on the historical development of land law and the now, near-obsolete general law describing it “as a screen behind which it is not necessary to look”. This accommodates the new part on the non-consensual acquisition of land which includes matters such as adverse possession through to statutory schemes of acquisition. This is a welcome development.

While it remains an authoritative statement on Australian land law, its use for Victorian practitioners is limited by its NSW focus. One gets the sense that Edgeworth has this weakness in his sights, but for the time being its almost passing reference to Victorian statutes relegates the text to a check against a more nationally focused specialist text such as Bradbrooke and Neave’s Easements and Restrictive Covenants.

Matthew Townsend, barrister

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