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Selden Society Lecture Series 2016 Print E-mail

article_seldon-lectures-2016_340w.jpgThe 2016 Selden Society Lecture Series features a number of interesting topics presented by distinguished speakers. Below is a brief synopsis of the lectures presented so far this year along with links to the papers and video footage. Details of the future lectures are also included below.

For further information about future Selden Society lectures please visit http://legalheritage.sclqld.org.au/selden-society.

Lecture one

Justices of the High Court of Australia — Sir Harry Gibbs CJ was presented by David Jackson AM QC on 17 March 2016.

Sir Harry Talbot Gibbs GCMC AC KBE QC (1917–2005) served as a Justice of the High Court of Australia for more than 16 years (1970–87), rising to the office of Chief Justice from 1981 to 1987—one of the most tumultuous periods in Australian constitutional history.

As his associate while he was a Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland, David Jackson AM QC , offers a special perspective on the life and work of Sir Harry Gibbs.

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Lecture two

Notable Trials — The Dobell Case: Attorney-General v Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW (1944) 62 WN (NSW) 212 was presented by Thomas Bradley QC on 21 April 2016.

One of the world’s leading art prizes, The Archibald Prize, has been the battleground for debates and disputes about the definition of portraiture since its inception in 1921. The legal case brought against the 1943 Archibald Prize winner, William Dobell (then a relatively unknown artist), forms part of a long history of art-world litigation built around questions of taste and changing definitions of art itself.

The resulting court case, brought by two disaffected Archibald Prize entrants against Dobell and the Gallery’s trustees, saw two of the greatest advocates of the day—Garfield Barwick KC (for the plaintiffs) and Frank Kitto KC (for the Art Gallery of NSW)—contest the differences between caricature and portraiture over a four-day trial. In the result, the decision of the trustees was upheld: Attorney-General v Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW (1944) 62 WN (NSW) 212. However, the case took its toll on Dobell and the other participants in this extraordinary dispute.

Vice-Patron and committee member of the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art Foundation, Thomas Bradley QC , examines this fascinating historic case: an intersection of art, law and public opinion.

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Lecture three

Legal writers — Sir William Blackstone was presented by Emeritus Professor Wilfrid Prest on 19 May 2016.

Sir William Blackstone (1723–80) wrote the most famous and influential treatise on Anglo-American-Australian common law—the four volume Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–69)—but he was also a major figure in 18th century public, academic and cultural life.

Blackstone’s biographer, Emeritus Professor Wilfrid Prest , investigates this influential legal writer in his diverse roles as academic, bibliophile, architect, historian, reformer, critic, poet and politician through the lens of 18th century political, legal and cultural life.

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Future Selden Society lectures

Lecture four

Leading Cases of the Common Law —Mabo v State of Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1 will be presented by The Hon Margaret White AO on 22 September 2016.

Mabo v Queensland (No. 2) is one of the most important judgments ever delivered by the High Court. It concerned an issue arising from events some 200 years earlier, when the Australian continent was first colonised. The issue was whether the effect of colonisation, under the common law, was to vest full ownership of all Australian land in the Crown—or whether the common law recognised land titles rising under pre-existing Indigenous laws and customs.

The Hon Margaret White AO acted as junior counsel for the Queensland Government for the ten years of litigation. She brings a unique and valuable perspective to this landmark constitutional case.

The lecture brochure can be accessed here.

Lecture five

Justices of the US Supreme Court —Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be presented by The Hon Justice Margaret McMurdo AC on 27 October 2016.

Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to be appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Throughout her long and distinguished legal career she has borne witness to changing attitudes and opportunities for women in the law.

As the first woman appointed as presiding judge of an Australian appellate court, the Hon Justice Margaret McMurdo AC explores Sandra Day O’Connor’s influence on generations of women lawyers and judicial officers, in the United States and Australia.

The lecture brochure can be accessed here.

Lecture six

Legal History of Queensland—Supreme Court Fire of 1968 will be presented by The Hon Richard Chesterman AO RDF QC on 24 November 2016.

In the early hours of 1 September 1968, as the building’s caretaker was doing his rounds, an unemployed alcoholic named David Brooks, slipped through the doors of Queensland’s historic law courts, designed by colonial architect F D G Stanley in the 1870s. Resentful of the police and the justice system for his habitual arrests, Brooks made his way to the judges’ chambers, drove a knife into an associate’s desk and scribbled the note ‘judge not lest you be judged, sinner.’ He then set the building alight.

The Hon Richard Chesterman AO RFD QC was a final year law student and associate to Justice Wanstall (later Chief Justice) when news of the fire broke and brings his personal reminiscences to this lecture.

The lecture brochure can be accessed here.


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