Welcome to the April edition of the AUSPUBLAW Australian Public Law Events Roundup. The events in this roundup were compiled in late March. Due to the evolving nature of responses to COVID-19, some of the below events may have been cancelled, postponed or otherwise amended. Please consult the link for each event for notification of any changes.

As always, if you have an AUSPUBLAW opportunity, conference or significant public lecture that you would like included in this roundup, please contact us at auspublaw@unsw.edu.au. We are very happy to publicise online events, and if you have one coming up, please do let us know.

Before we get to the roundup, we would like to draw your attention to the following opportunity:

The Saunders Prize for Excellence In Scholarship in Constitutional Law: Call for Nominations
Australian Association for Constitutional Law
Deadline for Nominations: 30 April 2020

The Saunders Prize is named in honour of Laureate Professor Cheryl Saunders AO, in recognition of her exceptional eminence in constitutional law and her leadership in the creation of the AACL. The Prize will be awarded to the author of an article or note on a subject of constitutional law, published in an Australian legal journal in the preceding calendar year, which, in the opinion of the Panel, reflects the highest standards of research and scholarship. The Prize will be judged by a Panel consisting of three eminent constitutional law scholars or practitioners, appointed for each year by resolution of the Council of the AACL. At least one member of the Panel is a member of the Council of the AACL.

The AACL is pleased to announce that the winner of the Saunders Prize in 2020 will be awarded $500. 

The AACL is calling for nominations for the 2020 Saunders Prize which will be awarded to the author of an article or note on a subject of constitutional law published in an Australian legal journal in 2019.

The judging panel for the Award will be: the Hon Susan Crennan AC QC, Professor Michael Crommelin AO and the Hon William Gummow AC.

Nominations should take the following form:
– A nominated article should be sent by way of e-mail attachment to the AACL Council at secretariat@aacl.asn.au (with the subject line “Saunders Prize”)
– The article should be in the form in which it was published. Manuscripts in other forms will not be accepted.
– In addition, a covering letter should be included containing the details of the nominating party and (if different) the article’s author. The covering letter should also confirm that the article was published in an Australian legal journal in 2019. 
– An article may be nominated by an individual or by a law journal. However, each individual and each law journal is limited to one nomination.

The rules governing the Saunders Prize are available here.

39th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society: One Empire, Many Colonies, Similar or Different Histories?
Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society
Date: 9-12 December 2020 (abstracts due 15 July 2020)
Location: University of Auckland

Abstracts are invited from scholars bringing historical perspective on law who wish to gather at The University of Auckland and AUT University – there to listen to and discuss papers and panels on aspects of law in history. The 2020 theme invites a comparative lens on British imperial and colonial histories. Other papers with an historical perspective on law might include work that positions law in a specific temporal frame; deals with histories of law, lawmaking, and legal ideas; or has a focus on legal institutions and their personnel. Proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are welcome.

Individual paper proposals for a 20 minute presentation must include an abstract (no more than 300 words) and a biographical statement (no more than 100 words).

Panel proposals by 3 or 4 speakers should include the above, plus a panel title and brief rationale for the panel as a whole (no more than 300 words).

All abstracts must be submitted to Karen Fairweather: k.fairweather@auckland.ac.nz by 15th July 2020. Click here for more information, including to download a flyer with more details.

National Conference on Administrative Law
Australia Institute of Administrative Law
Date: 16 – 17 July 2020
Location: RACV City Club, 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC

The AIAL National Administrative Law Conference is Australia’s pre-eminent administrative law conference, having been held each year since 1991.

The aim of the Conference is to provide those involved or interested in Australian administrative law with the opportunity to discuss contemporary issues, share practical experiences and consider future developments. The 2020 Conference will be hosted by the Victorian Chapter of the Institute.

The theme for the Conference will be Administrative Law on the Edge.

At this conference we intend to explore the many-faceted ‘edges’ of administrative law. We particularly note the following relevant sub-themes:
– intersecting areas of law and other areas of knowledge, for example, the law of interpretation and constitutional law
– the nature of any ‘boundary lines’ of administrative law
– the metes and bounds of jurisdictional error
– the capacity of civil and administrative tribunals to deliver administrative justice, having regard to the original intent of providing fast, low cost efficient reviews
– the scope to challenge the exercise of non-statutory executive power
– whether the performance of government functions that are ‘outsourced’ is outside administrative law bounds
– the scope to challenge automated ‘decision-making’.

The Conference will provide a stimulating mixture of activities, combining practical sessions with reflective and thought-provoking presentations. The Conference will canvass administrative law in the Commonwealth, States and Territories.

For further information, and to register, click here.

Relighting a Lamp of the Constitution? Prorogation in the United Kingdom Courts and its Implications
University of Queensland School of Law, Supreme Court Library of Queensland
Date: 12 November 2020
Time: 5:00 – 6:45 pm
Location: Banco Court, Supreme Court of Queensland, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law Complex, 415 George Street, Brisbane QLD

The judgment of the UK Supreme Court in Miller (No 2) [2019] UKSC 41 that a prorogation of Parliament in September 2019 under the prerogative power was “unlawful, void and of no effect” is politically and legally controversial. It has led the newly elected government in the United Kingdom to announce a review of the constitutional relationships between the political and judicial branches of government. Eminent legal scholars have variously described the decision itself as either “wholly unjustified by law” or one that has “relit a lamp of the constitution”.  The paper examines such claims. 

The case is the latest in a line in which the courts in the United Kingdom have sought to explain the principles and values of the British constitution and the role of the courts in protecting them from legislative or executive encroachment. Such cases turn on assessments of what is “constitutional” or “fundamental” in statutes and in common law and are hostile to encroachment by the executive or legislative branches.  The reasoning of the courts has been criticised for applying the methods of modern administrative law to matters of high policy.  In Miller (No 2), as in the earlier Miller (No 1), the focus is the institutional architecture of the constitution, rather than the more familiar context for constitutional contest of individual freedom and rights.  There are differences of opinion as to whether judges in such cases are carrying out their inevitable responsibilities under the rule of law to maintain and explain the constitution or whether they tip over into illegitimate constitution-building. 

The changing scope of the political constitution of the United Kingdom post-Brexit and post-devolution and the incongruity of a constitution still based on the “efficient secret” of the near complete fusion of the executive and legislative powers of the state, may lead to a new constitutional settlement in the United Kingdom.  If so, Miller may come to be seen as a product of a set of circumstances that were “unique”, as the Court in is reasons suggested it was, and the march of common law constitutionalism may subside.  If not, Miller may point to further judicial development of the United Kingdom constitution. 

The paper examines whether Miller is properly to be seen as part of what Justice Gummow once described as “the continuing intellectual agonies attending British constitutionalism”, of little relevance to constitutionalism in Australia or other common law jurisdictions with their own unique constitutional histories.  It suggests that the reasoning employed by the United Kingdom Supreme Court has implications for the continuing tug in all jurisdictions between the political and the legal (and in particular the concepts of “justiciability” and “parliamentary sovereignty”). It also has implications for the role in constitutional law of substantive values, many derived from antecedent common law in our shared traditions.  It questions whether the High Court’s location of sovereignty in the Australian Constitution and the stricter separation of powers under the Constitution will accelerate divergence in constitutionalism from jurisdictions such as Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. 

For further information and to register, click here.

Twenty-Third Geoffrey Sawer Lecture
ANU College of Law, Centre for International and Public Law
Date:  7 December 2020
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: Australian National University, Canberra ACT

We are delighted to welcome back the inaugural director of the ANU Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL), Professor Philip Alston, NYU Law and United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, to deliver the annual Geoffrey Sawer Lecture at 6pm on 7 December 2020. Registration for this event will open in mid-2020.

Following this lecture, ANU Law will host a two-day conference on public law and inequality. This major public law conference will mark the 60th anniversary of ANU Law and the 30th anniversary of CIPL. 

For further information, click here.