Topic: PhD confirmation seminar - Criminal negligence and child neglect

Presenter: Ms Ruth Walker - PhD Candidate, TC Beirne School of Law

Drawing on George Fletcher's theory of patterns of liability in criminal law, this thesis explores the role of criminal prosecution in fatal child neglect cases. The main focus of this research is the legislation and legal processes that apply following a fatality.

This paper considers apparent anomalies in the application of law in such cases in terms of criminal responsibility. It discusses general inherent difficulties in the definition, interpretation and application of 'neglect'. It will then consider the same issues in Australian law relevant to cases of child neglect and child fatality, across child protection, civil or tort law, and criminal law. It will then analyse Fletcher's patterns of liability in an effort to better understand the law of neglect in Australia, and will propose a fourth pattern of liability which, it will be argued, while not completely resolving the question, may go some way to the more consistent application of the law relating to neglect. 
The ultimate aim of this study is to identify deficiencies in legislation and legal processes which may be amended to better promote consistency in application.

All welcome, please register by emailing Beth Williams.

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

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