Current Legal Issues Seminars 2023

Bar Association of Queensland


The University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law


Supreme Court Library Queensland


2023 Seminar Series

The seminar series seeks to bring together leading scholars, practitioners and members of the judiciary in Queensland and from abroad to discuss key issues of contemporary significance.

  1. Subjective Intention in the Law of Contract - its Role and Limits
  2. Social Media and Defamation Law 
  3. Wrongful Convictions – Kinds, Causes and Solutions 
  4. From Lenah Game Meats to Farm Transparency: Cultures of Privacy and Surveillance in Australia 

Seminar 1: Subjective Intention in the Law of Contract – its Role and Limits 

DateThursday 1st June 2023
SpeakerThe Hon Justice Mark Leeming, New South Wales Court of Appeal 
CommentatorProfessor David McLauchlan, Victoria University of Wellington 
ChairThe Hon Patrick Keane AC 
AbstractLord Diplock was doubtless correct to say that words are imprecise instruments for communicating thoughts, and Felix Frankfurther equally correct to say that words are clumsy tools. When and why does law ask "What did the parties mean to say?" rather than "What is the meaning of what the parties have said?"? This paper will address that question both in point of principle and from a practical perspective.
PapersDownload The Hon Justice Mark Leeming's paper (PDF, 178.7 KB)
Download Professor David McLauchlan's commentary (PDF, 184.2 KB)

Seminar 2: Social Media and Defamation Law 

DateThursday 17th August 2023
SpeakerThe Hon Justice Peter Applegarth AM, Supreme Court of Queensland 
CommentatorProfessor Barbara McDonald, The University of Sydney 
ChairThe Hon Justice James Edelman, High Court of Australia 
AbstractAny individual with a smart phone is a potential global publisher. But they rely on social media platforms to reach mass audiences. Who is a publisher in this new environment? Should social media giants be legally liable like the publisher of a letter to the editor of a newspaper for hosting third-party content? Should there be new defences? How do courts cope with the surge in time-consuming cases over social media posts? Should public interest defences designed for responsible journalists be available to careless “citizen journalists”? Are new takedown remedies needed to protect individuals from malicious keyboard warriors? This paper will consider these and other challenges presented to defamation laws by modern social media platforms and their associated technologies. 
PapersDownload The Hon Justice Peter Applegarth's paper 

Seminar 3: Wrongful Convictions – Kinds, Causes and Solutions 

DateThursday 19th October 2023
SpeakerProfessor David Hamer, The University of Sydney 
CommentatorRuth O'Gorman KC, Higgins Chamber 
ChairThe Hon Justice Soraya Ryan, Supreme Court of Queensland

This paper provides an overview of wrongful convictions in Australia, how they are treated by current law and the prospects for reform. It outlines different kinds of wrongful convictions, distinguishing in the process between the notion of legal innocence and factual innocence. It provides an overview of known wrongful convictions and offers reflections on the far larger number of others that remain hidden. Taking account of the limitations on our knowledge, it also explores the causes of the various kinds of wrongful convictions. Finally, it suggests a number of reforms that may usefully assist in both the avoidance and correction of wrongful convictions. In particular, it considers whether Australia should adopt a Criminal Cases Review Commission, following England (1997), Scotland (1999), New Zealand (2020), and (in the near future) Canada.

In terms of detail, the paper examines the regular conviction appeal process, the new subsequent appeal legislation (SA, Tas, Vic) and post-appeal reviews (eg, ACT, NSW). It also touches on a number of recent high-profile cases, including Pell (2020) 268 CLR 123, Neill-Fraser [2021] TASCCA 12, Roberts [2020] VSCA 277, Van Beelen (2017) 262 CLR 565, and Folbigg (2nd inquiry, 2022-23).

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Seminar 4: From Lenah Game Meats to Farm Transparency: Cultures of Privacy and Surveillance in Australia 

DateThursday 9th November 2023
SpeakerProfessor Megan Richardson, University of Melbourne 
CommentatorThe Hon Margaret A Wilson KC
ChairMr Paxton Booth, Queensland Privacy Commissioner, Office of the Information Commissioner
AbstractThis paper offers an Australian take on James Whitman's article, 'The Two Western Cultures of Privacy: Dignity Versus Liberty' in the 2004 Yale Law Journal, where comparative lawyer Whitman argues that the American culture of privacy is essentially a libertarian idea centred in the home and against the state, while the European culture of privacy is more generally centred on an idea of human dignity. Based on a review of recent Australian High Court decisions on 'privacy' including Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd (2001) and Farm Transparency International Ltd v New South Wales (2022) (along with the earlier case of Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor (1937)), the paper speculates that the Australian culture of privacy is still undeveloped, but appears to be closely imbricated with a deeply conflicted culture of surveillance viewed as something that is both socially benign and socially malign. If this is right, the paper argues, it may help to explain the currently moribund state and limited reform (to date) of our privacy and surveillance devices laws.
PapersDownload Professor Richardson's paper (PDF, 471 KB)
Download The Hon Justice Margaret Wilson's commentary (PDF, 347.2 KB)