Australian Centre for Private Law
Private Law in the 21st Century

Private law in the 21st Century was a conference hosted by the Centre on 14 -15 December 2015 featuring keynote speakers renowned in the private law field: 

  • Professor Andrew Burrows, University of Oxford
  • Professor Hugh Collins, University of Oxford
  • Professor Hanoch Dagan, University of Tel Aviv
  • Justice James Edelman, Federal Court of Australia
  • Professor Ken Oliphant, University of Bristol
  • Professor Henry Smith, Harvard University

Download the conference programme.

Conference Aims and Themes

The purpose of this conference was to provide a forum for the identification and debate of the key questions and challenges that private law is likely to face, nationally and internationally in the 21st century, setting a clear agenda for legal practitioners, the legal academy and policy-makers within the field.

The challenges face by the law are procedural, ethical, substantive, doctrinal, and theoretical. Practitioners are faced with increased complexity, overlap, statutory intervention, and the proliferation of information and accessible case precedents. At the same time, the litigation system must grapple with priorities of economy, de-formalisation and access to justice, and with new demands and interests, both public and private. Some of the challenges are ones about the co-ordination of complex rules and diverse sources of law. Other, more fundamental questions relate to the proper nature and scope of private law entitlements in the changed conditions of the twenty-first century. Personal autonomy in the form of rights, freedoms and protected interests is regarded as more important than ever in liberal societies, but often runs up against new social and economic pressures. The relationship between private law, insurance systems and systems of public regulation is also in a renewed state of flux. What are the priorities for private law in the current environment and who (judges, legislators?) should best engage with them?

Private law challenges explored

  • Contemporary Challenges for Litigation Practice, Ethics and Access to Justice
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution – the benefits and risks
  • Complex interactions between Private Law, Regulatory and Insurance Systems
  • New Interests and Technologies – bitcoin, privacy protection and new forms of property
  • Law Reform - the relationship between the common law, statutes, codes and Restatements
  • Challenges in Contract, Commercial and Consumer Law
  • The Management of Trusts and Money in the C21st
  • Private Law and “Fundamental Rights”
  • Damages

Continuing Professional Development

Practitioner delegates are eligible to claim CPD points. The usual rate for a programme of this type is 1 CPD point per hour of conference attendance, within the substantive law category