9 August 2010

An Ode to (Public) Law

For my sins, I am one of a group of lecturers nominated for the Academic Idol competition being run at Vic by the student magazine, Salient.

The competition involves the candidates submitting a short response to a quirky question each week.  Each week, people vote and the lowest polling candidate gets voted off the island.

So far I've survived the first 3 rounds:

This week was a difficult task, but quite fun: "Write an acrostic poem using your name that explains why students should study your subject."

And I was pretty pleased with the result - despite my severe lack of poetry-writing skills.  I thought folk might be interested in reading it:


Daring adventures in the common law
Examining judgments for their every flaw
Abstract, though, the law is not
Ne’er the people should be forgot
King, Queen, and Guv’nor lead our realm
Nay, their ministers at the helm
In our names, they serve and reign
Good governance is our refrain
Hapu, family, plumber, and more
Tis people at the heart of law

[PS: To vote, text the name of your favourite lecturer to 027 CUSTARD (027 287 8273) or email editor@salient.org.nz.  Just saying.]

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Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"

This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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