AGM for the Society was held on Thursday, 23 November 2023. The following Annual Report was tabled:
2023 HISTORY COMPETITION – It’s time to get writing!!!
Competition Details are at: 2023 Essay Conditions and Guidelines – Final
We remind members, school and universities of the annual Australian Legal History Essay Competition. Please remind students in your networks of this competition as well. For further information please contact Simon Chapple SC on firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to Recent Conference
There will be a number of commemorative events to mark the Bicentenary of the establishment of the New South Wales Legislative Council and the Supreme Court
New South Wales Parliament coordinated a recent conference titled: New South Wales Act 1823 – the spark that ignited 200 years of Parliament and the Supreme Court in NSW.
The various presentations are available at: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/about/Pages/The-Spark-Conference.aspx
Bicentenary Conference 2023: The Spark
Current and former judges, eminent historians, experts and authors explored the history, politics and society of early colonial NSW that laid the foundations for 200 years of evolving parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.
Included was a special panel discussion from Chief Justice of the Supreme Court the Hon Andrew Bell, former Justice of the High Court and Supreme Court Virginia Bell and former President of the NSW Court of Appeal Keith Mason AC KC.
The Society has been very pleased with the high quality of the recent Legal History Tutorials and other events, supported by very capable presenters and made possible by the generous permission of the the Chief Justice of New South Wales Andrew Bell to use the Supreme Court as a venue.
Our most recent presentation was: 1 November 2023
Dr Jessica Lake (ACU Melbourne) ‘The Slander of Women’
Dr Jessica Lake will present a tutorial The Slander of Women: Australia and the gendered reform of defamation in the 19thcentury common law world in Court 13A, Level 13 Law Courts Building, 184 Phillip Street Sydney on 1 November 2023,
In the nineteenth century, a gendered reform movement known as the Slander of Women Acts swept through the common law world, making it easier for women to sue for defamatory allegations of sexual immorality. Under these changes, first initiated in New Jersey in 1790, a woman called a ‘whore’ or ‘unchaste’ could bring a civil action for slander without the burden of proving ‘special damage’. These reforms, while technical in language, reflected important shifts in understanding about gender, social status and speech and carried significant social and cultural implications. At one level, they enabled individual women to vindicate their reputations, obtain financial compensation and silence vituperative attacks. More broadly, the Slander of Women laws overturned centuries of English precedent – structured around class hierarchies, shaped to address men’s injuries, and premised on distinctions between common law and ecclesiastical courts. In the USA, these reforms connected with revolutionary sentiments, an emphasis on ‘character’ and a paternalistic desire to ‘protect’ the purity of republican wives and daughters. But what spurred the Australian colonies – New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria in particular – to break with England on this issue? How did new significance of respectability, ideas of civilisation, and conditions of commerce influence the direction and development of defamation laws in these far-flung colonies? Drawing upon archival research funded in part by the Francis Forbes Society, this presentation will examine Australia’s place within this global reform movement
Jessica is a Senior Research and ARC DECRA Fellow in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. Her first book, The Face that Launched a Thousand Lawsuits: The American Women Who Forged a Right to Privacy, was published with Yale University Press in 2016. Her second book on the transnational and gendered history of defamation law is forthcoming with Stanford University Press.
Forthcoming Plunkett Lecture to be held in February 2024
We are honoured that the Hon Andrew Bell, Chief Justice of New South Wales, has agreed to present the Plunkett Lecture. Due to so many activities at this time it has been decided to schedule this lecture on 13 February 2024 in Banco Court – further details later.
Recent Forbes Lecture
The 2023 Forbes Lecture presented by the Governor was well attended in Banco Court. The Governor has accepted an invitation to publish the paper in the Australian Bar Review. Courtesy of Geoff Lindsay, we presented to Her Excellency a copy of the first Bicentenary publication: Cases for Opinion – A Bicentennial Miscellany Dr J M Bennett AO & Dr John K McLaughlin AM (eds).
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC
The Forbes Society, and the annual Forbes Lecture sponsored by the Society, are named for Francis Forbes (1784-1841), the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, 1824-1837.
The Following Annual Report was presented at the Francis Forbes AGM 2022 on Tuesday 29 November 2022. ANNUAL REPORT 2022 (25.11.22)
Our new Membership Application and Renewal Form is now available at: FFS Membership application and renewal 23-24 (v1)
Have you considered donating to the Society?
The Society welcomes donations to support research activities, such as that outlined in the Current Research Page of this Website. Anyone wishing to donate should download the following form: Fund Donation Form 2023 (v1)