Topic: The common law principle of legality: Its content and application in the age of fights

Presenter: Dr Daniel Meagher - Senior Lecturer, Deakin University

In April 2010 the Australian Government released its Human Rights Framework ('HRF'). The HRF was its formal response to the report of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee Report chaired by Father Frank Brennan AO. Importantly, the HRF rejected the key recommendation of the Brennan Report: that the Australian Parliament ought to enact a statutory bill of rights. In doing so, the Australian Government rejected the increased judicial role in the protection of rights that inevitably attends the application of a bill of rights. 

So at least in the federal sphere the key tool to facilitate the judicial protection of rights remains what has become known as the principle of legality. However, notwithstanding its contemporary significance it remains a principle for which there is little meaningful judicial exegesis. Its content and application remain unclear. For example, what rights are fundamental at common law and how do they become so? And should the application of the principle of legality ever involve the kind of balancing that is central to proportionality analysis under a bill of rights? These are the key issues that will be explored in this seminar.

All welcome, no RSVP required.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

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