Past Law Orations

Find out, listen and read past orations - be inspired.

Law Oration 2018

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania

Law Oration 2018 - Are Courts Soft on Crime? Lessons from the Victorian Jury Sentencing Study

Are Courts Soft on Crime? Lessons from the Victorian Jury Sentencing Study (paper)

Sentencing and related issues frequently make news headlines and can be politically controversial. In particular there is often a perception that some sentences handed down by judges are lenient and are not representative of community views.

The Victorian Jury Sentencing Study, led by Her Excellency the Honourable Professor Kate Warner AC, took a closer look at the differences between judges’ and juries’ sentences.

By surveying almost a thousand jurors from County Court trials, the study explored jurors’ views on a range of issues related to sentencing including severity, purposes, aggravating and mitigating factors and sentencing discretion.

Using jurors as a sub-category of public opinion, the study’s findings challenge the perception that the community is clamouring for harsher sentences across the board and provide interesting insights into sentencing issues from a lay perspective.

The 2018 Law Oration explored the results of this study and their implications for the criminal justice system.

Law Oration 2017

The Honourable Robert French AC, High Court of Australia

Rights Freedoms and the Rule of Law. (paper)

Rights Freedoms and the Rule of Law. (video)

On 9 February 2017, just days after retiring as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Honourable Robert French delivered the Victoria Law Foundation Law Oration. His paper shone a light on contemporary legal issues, including the role of the courts in upholding the Rule of Law.

Law Oration 2016

Justice Mark Weinberg, Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeal

'Of Mozart, modern drafting and the criminal lawyers' lament.' (paper)

'Of Mozart, modern drafting and the criminal lawyers' lament.' (video)

The Honourable Justice Mark Weinberg was admitted to practice in New South Wales in 1974, and in Victoria in 1975, and his name was entered on the roll of barristers and solicitors of the High Court in 1979.

In 1975 he joined the academic staff of the University of Melbourne, where he held various positions in the Faculty of Law, culminating in Dean of the Faculty from 1984 to 1985. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1986 and was Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions from 1988 to 1991.

Justice Weinberg was appointed to the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria, in July 2008. His Honour was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia from 1998 to 2008 and previously held the following appointments: Deputy President, Federal Police Disciplinary Tribunal; Non-resident Judge, Supreme Court of Fiji; Judge, Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory; and Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Norfolk Island.

Law Oration 2015

Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders AO

Australian federal democracy (paper)

Australian federal democracy (video)

Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders AO is the Director of Studies in Government Law and Co-Director of Studies in Public and International Law at the University of Melbourne.

An expert in Australian and comparative law, Professor Saunders is a President Emeritus of the International Association of Constitutional Law, a former President of the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies, a former President of the Administrative Review Council of Australia and a senior technical advisor to the Constitution Building program of International IDEA. She has a chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur of France.

Law Oration 2014

The Honourable Justice Susan Crennan AC

Magna Carta, common law values and the Constitution (paper)

Magna Carta, common law values and the Constitution (audio)

Justice Susan Crennan was appointed in November 2005 to the High Court of Australia, which is both the ultimate appeal court in Australia and the original jurisdiction under the Constitution. She had then served for almost two years as a judge on the Federal Court of Australia. In 2010, her Honour became an Inns of Court Fellow attached to the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University College, London.

Before appointment as a judge, Justice Crennan was a barrister for 24 years, 14 of them as Queen's Counsel. After being appointed as Queen's Counsel, Justice Crennan became Chair of the Victorian Bar Council, then President of the Australian Bar Association. She was the first woman to occupy each of those positions. Also, Justice Crennan was for some years a Commonwealth Commissioner for Human Rights.

Law Oration 2013

Victorian Attorney-General, The Honourable Robert Clark MP

Tradition and reform in the law

The Attorney-General is the Member for Box Hill and is also the Attorney-General, Minister for Finance and Minister for Industrial Relations in the Victorian Government. Before entering Parliament, he was a solicitor practising in commercial, financial and labour law.

Law Oration 2012

Robert Walker, Justice of The Supreme Court (UK)

Developing common law: how far is too far?

Lord Walker became one of the first Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in 2009. He sits as a non-permanent justice of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, and has sat in the Bahamas and Mauritius on occasional local sittings of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Over the past five decades, Lord Walker has lectured or conducted advocacy training in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and New Zealand, as well as in the United Kingdom.

In 2013, a modified version of this paper was published in 37(1) of the Melbourne University Law Review.

You can also watch this oration.

Law Week Oration 2011

Mr George Brouwer, Victorian Ombudsman

Achieving integrity: Do we judicialise too much?

At the time of presenting the oration, Mr Brouwer was the Victorian Ombudsman. He was appointed to the position in 2004. His term expired in March 2014.

Mr Brouwer has over thirty years experience working in the federal and state public service and statutory authorities in Australia and abroad, giving him experience in public policy, strategic development, and change management at senior executive and chief executive levels. Mr Brouwer has worked in the Commonwealth Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under Harold Holt, John McEwen, William McMahon, John Gorton, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser. At state level, Mr Brouwer has worked as Chief Executive in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet under John Cain and Joan Kirner, and in the Department of Business and Employment under Jeff Kennett.

Law Week Oration 2010

The Honourable Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC

Does judicial independence matter?

A Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria since 1998, and Chief Justice since 2003, the Hon Chief Justice Marilyn Warren was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2005. This honour recognised her service to the judiciary and the legal profession, her service to the community in areas affecting the social and economic conditions of women, and to forensic medicine internationally.

Law Week Oration 2009

Professor the Honourable Gareth Evans QC AO

The responsibility to protect: ending mass atrocity crimes once and for all

Professor the Honourable Gareth Evans AC QC FASSA has been Chancellor of the Australian National University since January 2010. He was a Cabinet Minister in the Hawke and Keating Labor Governments from 1983 to 1996, in the posts of Attorney-General, Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Transport and Communications and – from 1988 to 1996 – Foreign Minister. During his 21 years in Australian politics, he was Leader of the Government in the Senate (1993–96) and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (1996–98). From 2000 to 2009, he was President and CEO of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, the independent global conflict prevention and resolution organisation.

Law Week Oration 2008

The Honourable Chief Justice of the High Court, Murray Gleeson AC

The meaning of legislation: context, purpose and respect for fundamental rights

The Hon Murray Gleeson AC was the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australian between 1998 and 2008. Chief Justice Gleeson delivered the Law Oration just prior to his retirement. Prior to his appointment to the High Court, he was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales (1988–98). He was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in 1963 (QC 1974), was President of the New South Wales Bar Association (1984–85) and was Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales (1989–98).

Law Week Oration 2007

The Honourable Michael McHugh AC QC

Does Australia need a Bill of Rights?

The Honourable Michael McHugh was a Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1989 to 2005. Prior to his appointment, he was a Judge of Court of Appeal and Supreme Court NSW (1984–89), President of the NSW Bar Association (1981–83) and President of the Australian Bar Association (1983–84).

Law Week Oration 2006

Lex Lasry QC

Defending unpopular causes in a climate of fear

At the time of presenting the oration, Lex Lasry QC was a prominent Australian barrister; he has since been appointed a judge in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Lasry is the former Chair of the Victorian Criminal Bar Association. In August 2004, he was appointed as the independent observer representing the Law Council of Australia at the trial of Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks. He attended Military Commission hearings at Guantanamo Bay in August 2004 and March 2007.

Law Week Oration 2005

Professor Tim McCormack

60 years from Nuremberg: what progress for international criminal justice?

Tim McCormack is a Professor of Law at the Melbourne Law School and the Special Adviser on International Humanitarian Law to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Tim is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Tasmania Law School.

Tim was the Foundation Australian Red Cross Professor of International Humanitarian Law (1996–2010) at the Melbourne Law School and also the Foundation Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law (2001–2010) – a collaborative initiative, established in 2001, between the Melbourne Law School and The Australian Defence Force Legal Service.

This page was last updated on September 05, 2018