Entrants in the 2017 Australian Legal History Essay Competition are invited to address any question of their own choice on “Australian legal history”. Details of the competition categories and submission details as well as the sample questions are available on the following link:
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.
Scroll down the page for information concerning Membership, upcoming seminars and talks.
Forbes Lecture and Plunkett Lecture for 2017
We are delighted that Justice Margaret Beazley AO, President of the Court of Appeal, has agreed to present this year’s Forbes Lecture, on the history of the Court of Appeal. It will be held on 28 September 2017 in Banco Court. We will provide further details closer to the date.
We are also pleased to announce that the Attorney General has agreed to chair this year’s Plunkett Lecture, to be presented by Mark Tedeschi QC.
Venue: Bar Common Room. 9 November 2017. 5.15 pm
MEMBERSHIP 2017 / 2018
Membership Information and forms for the 2017/2018 year are available in the Membership page above or click on the following links:
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
The Legal History seminars for 2017 are well under way.
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.
On Tuesday, 13 June 2017 the Hon John Bryson QC presented on The History of Property Law. Click on the following for a copy of the notes accompanying the seminar: Notes
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. Other Seminars included:
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
Following this were:
The History of Corporation Law by Justice Ashley Black: Tuesday, 2 May 2017
The History of Equity by the Hon Peter Young QC: Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Early Equity Cases in New South Wales LATEST ADDITION
“Supreme Court of Civil Jurisdiction Equity Cases 1817-1824”.
Many cases feature the controversial judge, Barron Field. A biography of this colourful character is available at
Judge Barron Field
The Hon John Hamilton QC has collected together 37 of the first Supreme Court Equity Cases in the Colony of New South Wales. The cases give a fascinating insight into the legal and social landscape of the time.
John Hamilton QC explains that: “In the State Archives there is a document entitled “Supreme Court of Civil Jurisdiction Equity Cases 1817-1824”. It lists 75 cases. There is a folder there for almost every case generally containing documents for the case. Mostly these are pleadings and interrogatories with their answers, but usually there are no reasons for judgment; the cases more often than not did not go to trial. In no instance is there any record of oral evidence. However, the pleadings contained an extensive account of the parties’ evidentiary cases. The documents in the cases have been essentially copied and these versions are presented in this database. The cases are arranged in chronological order by the dates of their commencement. Click on the following for an outline of the cases to be presented chronological list of equity cases Click on the following for 14 of these early cases Early Equity Cases in New South Wales
Further cases will be uploaded directly.
Note: John Hamilton QC’s book, Adjudication on the Gold Fields was launched by Bathurst CJ, in the Banco Court, on 8 March 2016 at 5:30 pm. Details of the book, based on John’s PhD thesis are available at: Launch of Adjudication on the Gold Fields
John is a former judge of the Supreme Court of NSW and a much valued active member of both the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History and the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society.
ALSO on the History of Equity
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: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhg7RxMYx8V1ZrK7zjeHHUsI57T05-pHY. 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 (email@example.com) 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.
An exhibition and publication, In Freedom’s Cause, pays tribute to Queensland’s lawyers (and lawyers-in-training) who served in World War I. The publication was launched by the Chief Justice of Queensland, Catherine Holmes, in the Banco Court, Queensland Supreme Court on 18 February 2016. Further details concerning the project are available through the following link: publication or by downloading the order form: In Freedom’s Cause Order Form
Mark Tedeschi QC, Senior Crown Prosecutor, has built on his previous success with the book Eugenia and continued writing about some significant trials in Australian Legal History with the publication of Kidnapped, the story of the Graeme Thorne kidnapping and death in July 1960. It’s a fascinating story and a landmark case. Further details are available at: ‘Kidnapped’ by Mark Tedeschi QC
The Newsletter of the Francis Forbes Society
The Forbes Flyer is designed to be an informative reference source for members of the Forbes Society. It contains information about events of historical significance, articles about legal research and details of future lectures and other activities the Forbes Society.
The latest edition, No.32 (Spring/Summer 2016), is available here . No 32 Spring Summer 2015-2016
- The Forbes Flyer Issue No 32 features:· History reports itself
· The 2015 Forbes Lecture in Sydney
· Results of the 2015-2016 Australian Legal History Essay Competition
· The Holt Prize
· The Civil Procedure legislation 10 years on
· Constitution patriotism in Adelaide
· The Block and the land of coincidence
· New books
· Spring & Summer Quarters