The Society aims to bring together scholars, lawyers and the general public interested in Legal History. It sponsors lectures, competitions, research projects and a variety of seminars and discussion groups.
Sir Francis Forbes was the first Chief Justice of New South Wales and worked hard to establish the legal framework for the new colony. Further details are in our Biography Section.
Painting of Sir Francis Forbes by an unknown artist.
Membership Information and forms for the 2016/2017 year are available in the Membership page above.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF RESULTS is in the Essay Competition section of this website. Congratulations to all who entered.
FORBES FLYER _ News For Members and friends of the Society.
The latest edition of the Forbes Flyer, No. 34, edited by David Ash, is now available at the following link: Autumn 2017. Forbes Flyer
The Flyer includes a report on: Mark Finnane’s 2016 Plunkett Lecture where the audience was treated to an informed and entertaining analysis of the criminal trial as a microcosm of society.
Also, we review Max Bonnell’s intriguing biography of that elusive colonial judge, John Walpole Willis. The book was published by Federation Press earlier this year and launched in March by the NSW chief justice. It is well worth reading! See http://www.federationpress.com.au/bookstore/book.asp?isbn=9781760020866).
John Walpole WIllis
The previous Forbes Flyer is available by clicking on: forbes-flyer-33-autumn-2016
Details of the first Legal History seminars for 2017 have been finalised.
All tutorials will be presented in the beautifully appointed Banco Court (on Level 13 of the Law Courts Building in Queen’s Square, Sydney). We are grateful to NSW Chief Justice Bathurst for his permission to use such an elegant and significant venue again this year. Each tutorial will commence at 5.15pm and conclude at 6.15pm.
The first seminar on Tuesday 11 April was an engaging and fascinating talk on the importance of legal history and the work of the English Academic/ Lawyer from the 18th Century, William Blackstone, by his biographer Emeritus Professor Wilf Prest (University of Adelaide). Blackstone’s Commentaries are a landmark in the history of the law. Professor Prest brought the man and his influence alive for the audience. Click on the following link for the handout: Prof Prest Handout Forbes Tutorial 11 April 17 .
Note: Oxford University Press is offering Forbes members a discount on the Oxford Edition of Blackstone: Commentaries on the Laws of England: Books I, II, III, and IV edited by Wilfrid Prest – see the attached flyer. blackstone_oxfordeditionofblackstone
The next Seminar is :
The History of Corporation Law by Justice Ashley Black: Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Following Justice Black is:
- The History of Equity by the Hon Peter Young QC: Tuesday, 23 May 2017
- The History of Property Law by the Hon John Bryson QC: Tuesday, 13 June 2017
These tutorials are well worth while for experienced practitioners as well as those starting out on a legal career. Any member of the general public who wants to know more about how our legal system operates is welcome to take advantage of these free presentations by some of the leading legal and academic professionals in the country.
Applications are invited for a scholarship leading to the degree of PhD in the School of Law, University of Adelaide
The scholarship is supported by the Australian Research Council under Discovery Project DP160100265: ‘A New History of Law in Post-Revolutionary England, 1689 1760′ (Chief Investigators: Em. Prof Wilfrid Prest and Prof David Lemmings, University of Adelaide, and Dr Mike Macnair, University of Oxford).
The successful candidate will pursue research leading to a PhD on some aspect of the English legal order, c.1689-1760. Prof. Prest is particularly interested in supervising research on case notes and law reporting or another aspect of legal literature during the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. However candidates are encouraged to outline (in no more than 250 words) any proposal they may have for a thesis topic related to the overall field of study.
The scholarship will be for three years full-time study, with a stipend of $31,288 per annum. It is likely to be tax exempt, subject to Taxation Office approval.
Enquiries: Prof. Em. Wilfrid Prest, Adelaide Law School Tel +61 (08) 8313 5883
Email: email@example.com or Dr. Helen Payne for further details
Joe Campbell QC, formerly a judge of the Supreme Court of NSW and now an Adjunct Professor at Sydney Law School, has prepared a series of podcasts on the History of Equity.
They can be accessed if you cut and paste the following link:
These are an instructive introduction to the history of the Equity jurisdiction.
The Society is dedicated to studying and documenting the history of Australian law and encourages its members to participate actively in its affairs, including in developing any projects that the Society might support. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Secretary of the Society (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have a project that you wish to bring to the attention of the Society.
The Forbes Lecture
The Annual Forbes Lecture is an important event in the Forbes Society calendar. The 2016 lecture was delivered by Professor Jane Stapleton on 14 July 2016 at 5.15pm in the NSW Bar Association Common Room.
The Hon Justice Virginia Bell AC chaired the lecture.
Professor Stapleton is a Professor at the Australian National University and the University of Texas, School of Law. She is the Master of Christ’s College, University of Cambridge.
The title of Professor Stapleton’s lecture was “Lady Margaret Beaufort and the Law”. Lady Margaret Beaufort was the mother of King Henry VII and, among many other things, established Christ’s College, Cambridge in the 1500s. Professor Stapleton’s well attended lecture provided a fascinating insight into this remarkable woman and her relationship with the law.
The 2016 Australian Legal History Essay Competition
Entrants in the 2016 Australian Legal History Essay Competition are invited to address any question of their own choice on “Australian legal history” or to address one of four sample questions proposed by the Society.
Details of the competition categories and submission details as well as the sample questions are available on the following link: 2016 Essay Conditions and Guidelines
Essays submitted by email should be sent to email@example.com
Essays submitted by post should be addressed to: The Secretary, The Francis Society for Australian Legal History, C/- NSW Bar Association, Lower Ground Floor, Selborne Chambers, 174 Phillip Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000. Essays submitted by hand should be delivered to that address.