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Australian federal collective civil procedures permit claims by one representative party on behalf of those whose claims are similar, typically because there is a common question of law or fact and through claims which are connected through same, similar or related circumstances. At judgment or settlement, res judicata applies to all group members who have not opted out of the class action. The money sum thereby obtained is then distributed. This analysis focuses on settlement and examines the unjust enrichments which may arise in implementing settlement distributions. Specifically, it considers whether the unjust enrichments which might arise between class members inter se and the potential consequences for the exercise of the court’s discretion under s 33V of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) (court to approve the terms of settlement of any representative proceeding). This research forms part of the IMF Bentham Class Actions Research Initiative at UNSW Law.

Professor Degeling is Co-Director of the Private Law Policy & Research Group at UNSW, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and a fellow of the Australian Centre of Private Law. Her research is about private law and its internal structures and architecture. It is premised on the view that private law should be transparent and rational. Law should offer an acceptable degree of predictability of outcome and those who apply it should be accountable in part by the giving of defensible reasons. The development of a taxonomy by which we can understand private law assists in achieving and maintaining these objectives. It is therefore necessary to have a view of private law as an integrated whole rather than simply as a collection of discrete and sometimes merely contextual categories. Her particular expertise lies in the law of unjust enrichment, the law of equity and the law of remedies. Within unjust enrichment scholarship, she has done extensive work on policy-motivated unjust factors and the intersections between unjust enrichment and tort. She uses both doctrinal and theoretical approaches to inform her work.

Visit UNSW's website for a full biography.

About Australian Centre for Private Law Events

The mission of the ​Australian Centre for Private Law is to foster the development and understanding of the private law through advanced theoretical, doctrinal, empirical and historical research, and the dissemination of that research through education and professional outreach. By supporting the work of its Fellows, the ACPL seeks to promote research in all areas of private law and to establish itself as a research centre of national and international importance. The core initiatives of ACPL are:

Research: To advance a deeper understanding of the structure, principles and policies of the private law through advanced theoretical, comparative, and empirical analysis.

Education: To promote, facilitate and disseminate the results of that research for the benefit of Australia’s social and economic fabric.

Professional Outreach: To engage the judiciary and members of the legal profession in discussion about the values, goals and methods of private law and the respective roles of the judiciary, the legal profession and the academy in the interpretation and reform of private law.

The ACPL embraces all branches of private law, including the law of contract, torts, trusts, equity, property, unjust enrichment, including theoretical and jurisprudential dimensions and contextual applications thereof.


Forgan Smith Building (#1)
The University of Queensland, St Lucia

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