There has been very little attempt to historicise Australian private law in as part of wider Australian history. Apart from the important efforts of scholars to consider the impact of the imported common law on Australia’s indigenous populations, the substantive content of that private law has, with some important exceptions, been largely neglected by both legal historians and historians more generally. To the extent that it has been considered the view has been taken that Australian courts and legislatures simply followed the English common law. It was only when Australia broke free from its imperial shackles could genuine contributions to common law development be made. In this seminar, I argue that this is a simplistic view that fails to recognise the intellectual and cultural milieu in which Australian legal practitioners operated. By reading back into legal history a bifurcated view of Australian nationalism we risk missing the genuine innovation made to the common law of tort by generations of Australian lawyers.

Mark Lunney is a Professor in the School of Law at the University of New England, Armidale, Australia, and a Visiting Professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London. He trained as a solicitor in Brisbane before obtaining an LLM from the University of Cambridge. Between 1991-2003 he was Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader at the School of Law, King’s College London. He was an Associate Professor in the School of Law at the University of New England between 2003-2011 and from 2011-2012 he was Professor and Director of Research in the ANU College of Law.

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 (see, for example, Barker, Cane, Lunney & Trindade, The Law of Torts in Australia(5th edn, 2012) and Lunney & Oliphant, Tort Law: Text and Materials (5th edn, 2013). He is also a contributing editor to the practitioners’ reference work Tort Law (3rd edn, 2015, Butterworths Common Law Series).

He is the inaugural Australian member, and a member of the Executive Committee, of the World Tort Law Society, and is a Council member of the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History. His monograph, A History of Australian Tort Law 1901-1945: England’s Obedient Servant?’ was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018.

Date: Thursday 24 May 2018

Time: 12noon – 1pm

Venue: Lismore Campus; Gold Coast Campus (Zoom link with Lismore); or Zoom.