This course introduces students to the history and operation of the contemporary Australian legal system, to the relationships between law and justice, and to the core legal skills necessary for successful study and practice. Common law reasoning and the elements of legal problem solving are introduced via a case study based on intentional torts, and the interpretation and application of statutes are developed throughout the course. The course emphasises the historical origins and dynamic nature of the Australian legal system as a settler colonial system, developing in the context of a changing Australian society. Through a consideration of the relationships between the principal institutions of government under Australian Constitutions – parliaments, the executive and the courts – it introduces students to key values and constructs underpinning the Australian legal system, including the significance, and limits, of conceptions of the ‘rule of law’. The course explores the nature of the common law and common law reasoning, with a particular emphasis on the circumstances of the adoption of the common law in the Australian states, the common law’s role in facilitating dispossession, and the ongoing impact of colonisation for Indigenous people in Australia. It also explores the processes by which cases are decided by judges, introducing some theoretical frameworks that have been used to analyse law and legal decision making. The roles of judges, practising lawyers and other personnel in the court system are also considered, with an emphasis on the need for the development of professional identities and resilience, as well as the role of lawyers in promoting just outcomes. Legal research methods and legal citation are taught via the Legal Research and Writing (Stage 1) tutorials attached to JURD7152.
Main Topics covered:
The Australian Legal System in Action
From Case Law to Common Law: Legal Reasoning, the Doctrine of Precedent and Legal Problem Solving
Introduction to Statutory Interpretation
The relationship between Law and Equity
Common Law Theory and Judicial Independence
Rule of Law, Colonial History, and the Separation of Powers
The Reception of English Law
The Impact of Dispossession on Indigenous People
Social Change and Judicial Decision Making
Reimagining Law and Justice
Resilience and Developing a Professional Identity
Introduction to Primary and Secondary Legal Research methods
Introduction to research for legal problem solving and policy scenarios
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