Obiter Dicta

December 2019


Launch of the Dean's Circle

As the oldest Law School in Western Australia we are privileged to have so many remarkable alumni and are immensely proud of their many and varied achievements and contributions in a wide range of areas. The Dean's Circle, which was launched in November, seeks to create a long-term partnership between the UWA Law School and its alumni to ensure the future success of the School and its students.

The UWA Law School owes special thanks to patron The Honourable Dr Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC, and our foundation donors for their leadership and generosity.

By joining the Dean's Circle, alumni can support a range of philanthropic initiatives.  Examples of high-priority projects include the Law School Strategic Fund, student scholarships, mooting and the Student Emergency Fund.

Founding members

  • The Bedant Family
  • Liz Bedford-Brown
  • Sarah Beshar
  • Anna Ciffolilli
  • Nicoletta Ciffolilli
  • Rick Crabb
  • Brett Davies
  • Evi Ferrier
  • Bruno Fiannaca
  • Graham Laitt
  • Joe Longo and Mary-Eileen Scanlan
  • Malcolm McCusker (patron)
  • David Newby
  • Mladen Ninkov
  • Stephen and Wendy Powles
  • David Vaux
  • Melvin Yeo



The Honourable Justice Antony Siopis
The Honourable Justice Antony Siopis

Judge in Residence 2020

The Law School welcomes The Honourable Justice Antony Siopis as Judge in Residence from 1 January to 30 June 2020. Tony is interested in the extent to which the common law provides remedies for infringements of human dignity and he will be undertaking research into that topic. The Judge in Residence program encourages and fosters engagement between the judiciary and the Law School staff and students, and it supports sitting and retired judges to engage in academic activities, including writing and developing research topics and projects.

New Criminology major

The Law School has introduced a new Criminology major which will be available from 2020. The major, coordinated by Dr Joe Clare, is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on knowledge and perspectives from a range of areas, including law, psychology, history, anthropology and geography.

It will challenge students to apply criminological theory to analyse contemporary challenges relating to crime, victimisation, crime prevention and the criminal justice system.


Left to right: Professor Richard Bartlett, The Honourable Robert French AC, Mrs Loma Toohey, The Honourable Michelle Gordon AC, Professor Natalie Skead.
Left to right: Professor Richard Bartlett,
The Honourable Robert French AC,
Mrs Loma Toohey,
The Honourable Michelle Gordon AC,
Professor Natalie Skead.

Toohey Oration

The 2019 John Toohey Oration, titled ‘The Development of Native Title: Opening Our Eyes to Shared History’ was delivered by Justice Michelle Gordon at the Perth Town Hall on 2 October 2019.  The John Toohey Oration honours the career and contribution to public life of a distinguished graduate of The University of Western Australia, Justice John Leslie Toohey.

Antony Buti and his book
Member for Armadale, Dr Antonio Buti

Book launch

Member for Armadale Dr Antonio Buti’s latest book A Stolen Life: The Bruce Trevorrow Case published by Fremantle Press (2019) was launched at UWA on Thursday, 20 June at an event hosted by the Dean, Professor Natalie Skead. MC Peter Kennedy led the proceedings at which the book was launched by The Honourable Ben Wyatt MLA.

Student achievements

Mooting success

Our JD students continued to excel in mooting this semester.

Our Animal Moot and AAT Moot teams both reached the semi-finals in their competitions. Special mention to the UWA1 Animal moot team comprising Andrew McDade and Genevieve Rose which won the competition and to Gatwiri M'mbijiwe from the UWA2 team who was awarded Best Mooter 2019.

Our 2019 Sir Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law Moot team, Olivia Everett, Alexander Gibson and Bridget Rumball, was ranked first out of 22 teams at the end of the general round and progressed to the quarter-finals where they were narrowly defeated by Melbourne University, which went on to win the Grand Final. Special congratulations to Olivia Everett who won the award for Best Mooter in the general rounds.


QEII Scholarship Student Exchange 

Rachel Bannerman and Paris Buti standing in front of Winthrop Hall and Reflection Pond

Two students from the University of Toronto visited UWA during July – October to undertake research projects with Law School supervisors. Rachel Bannerman was supervised by Professor Harry Blagg and Dr Tamara Tullich, and Jonah Toth was supervised by Dr Dylan Lino.  

Outgoing UWA JD student Paris Buti is currently on exchange at the University of Toronto as recipient of a QEII Scholarship where he is researching the effect of constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples in the Canadian context.


Blackstone news

Congratulations to Blackstone, named Best Faculty Society for 2019. The Society's new President for 2020 is Andrew McDade.


2019 Law Student Hackathon

Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Hackathon, UWA JD students Samuel Dulyba and Lucy Burns from Team Pragma Lawyers. Sam and Lucy will compete against the winners from the other states in the national Disrupting Law Hackathon. Students worked in teams on developing innovative legal solutions to real-world problems, supported by Law School Director of Disruption, Kate Offer, The Legal Forecast  and sponsors Clayton Utz, King & Wood Mallesons, Pragma Lawyers, Gilbert and Tobin, Jackson McDonald, HBA Legal and LAWCPD.


Legal APPtitude

Legal APPtitude is a JD unit sponsored by Corrs Chambers Westgarth. It involves students teaming up with lawyers from Corrs’ Perth office and not-for-profit clients to develop AI applications to address real-world legal problems.

Staff updates

Teaching excellence

UWA Excellence in Teaching Awards

School academic Assistant Professor Kate Offer was nominated for an Australian Teaching Excellence Award for her outstanding contribution to student learning at the UWA Awards ceremony on 13 August 2019.


Blackstone Teacher of the Year

Associate Professor Ian Murray is the 2019 recipient of the Blackstone Teacher of the Year Award which recognises a staff member “who has gone above and beyond in ensuring that students in the UWA Law School have a positive educational experience”. 


Research excellence

Book award

Food Loss and Food Waste. Causes and Remedies by Michael Blakeney, Cheltenham UK, Edward Elgar was awarded the 2019 Bruce Chandler book prize by the Australia Institute of Food Science and Technology.


Research reports launch

Transforming legal understandings of intimate partner violence

Transforming legal understandings of intimate partner violence, by Associate Professor Stella Tarrant, Julia Tolmie, and George Giudice (2019) (Research report 03/2019), Sydney, NSW: Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), was launched on Thursday, 27 June from 5.30–7pm at the Old Supreme Court House Law Museum. Coinciding with the launch, an exhibition by Chamari Liyanage was held in the Beasley Law Library during July titled ‘Uncertainty II’. The exhibition of paintings was curated by the UWA Law School and ANROWS.

Co-designing Benefits Management Structures: A Summary Overview

UWA research team Associate Professor Ian Murray, Joe Fardin and James O’Hara, (as advised by Donella Raye) launched their findings from a three-year research project into key issues faced by Indigenous communities and other stakeholders in the design and operation of Benefits Management Structures. The launch on 8 August 2019 included a panel discussion from key stakeholders, organised by the Forum for Directors of Indigenous Organisations. Read the full report: Co-designing Benefits Management Structures: A Summary Overview.

Ian Murray and colleagues standing next to a banner

L-R: Colin Johnson (Manager, Corporate Affairs, BHP), Associate Professor Ian Murray, Professor John Chandler.


Banking Royal Commission Seminar in the CBD

The UWA Law School, UWA Business School and Quayside Chambers held a seminar on Directors’ Duties and the Defence of Informed Consent in the Post-Banking Commission World on Tuesday, 17 September 2019, at Quayside Chambers. Dr Felicity Maher curated this informative and well-attended seminar.


Modern Slavery Symposium

Dr Fiona McGaughey and Adjunct Professor Holly Cullen, members of the UWA Modern Slavery Cluster, co-organised a symposium at UWA on Perspectives on Modern Slavery. The symposium on 16 September brought together practitioners and academics from the UWA Modern Slavery Research Cluster. Rebecca Faugno from Law was among presenters from a range of disciplines from the UK, India and across Australia.


Academic promotions

Congratulations to the following staff on their promotions this semester:


Staff departures


Staff retirements

2019 marks the end of an era for some of our treasured and long serving academic staff. We wish them a long, happy and healthy retirement.


Award of Emeritus Professorship

The UWA Academic Board conferred an award the title of Emeritus Professor to two highly distinguished members of the Law School on 20 November 2019. The Law School congratulates:


Appointment to WA Law Reform Commission


The University of Western Australia Law Review: Latest Issue

The University of Western Australia Law Review (UWA Law Review) is Australia's oldest University Law Journal, first published in 1948. It is published quarterly and is edited by a Student Editorial Board, under the supervision of a senior member of academic staff. Read Issue 1 of Volume 46 (2019).

Law School spotlight

Professor Elise Bant, Professor of Private Law and Commercial Regulation

Headshot of Professor Elise Bant smiling to camera

Tell us about what you will be teaching in the Law School?

In February 2020 I will be teaching the JD intensive elective, Unjust Enrichment and Restitution, with long-time friend and colleague Dr Eric Heenan. This is an exciting subject to have on the curriculum, as it is critical to commercial legal practice yet is one of the least understood of the major branches of private law. It is also undergoing significant development both here and overseas, so is best navigated with the benefit of a specialist understanding!

What are your research interests and priorities?

Beyond unjust enrichment (which is always a key research area), I hold an ARC Discovery Grant Project DP180100932 with Professor Paterson at Melbourne Law School on ‘Developing a Rational Law of Misleading Conduct’. As the title suggests, this examines the regulation of misleading conduct across common law, equity and statute with a view to significant law reform, taking in areas as diverse as deceit, breach of fiduciary duty and of course a swathe of statutory prohibitions across dozens of statutes.  I am also embarking on a new research project in 2020, to examine how we ascertain corporate ‘states of mind’  and whether we need to adopt more objective strategies to combat corporate fraud and predatory conduct.

What are your aspirations for the Law School in taking up this appointment?

As Professor of Private Law and Commercial Regulation, I aim to work very closely with Law School colleagues both individually and through collaborative bodies such as the Obligations Hub and the UWA Public Policy Institute. My work also demands that I engage with the legal profession, courts, law reform bodies such as the ALRC, consumer groups and regulators such as ASIC and ACCC. And, of course, UWA students will sit at the heart of my research agenda, both as students who subject my ideas to the most rigorous testing and as research assistants. So it promises to be a busy and rewarding transition for me.
Rachel Chan, 2019 Valedictorian

Rachael Chan

Rachel delivered the Valedictorian address at the 2020 December Law Graduation. We interviewed her in anticipation of this special occasion.

You will graduate as Juris Doctor on 10 December. Congratulations! How would you describe your time at the Law School?

The JD was a challenging three years but throughout the degree I felt that I was part of a supportive, encouraging community of teachers and fellow students. For this I am very grateful.

What advice would you give to prospective JD students?

First, embrace and enjoy all that law school has to offer — including the fact that the JD is a challenging degree. Second, spare time is a misnomer. If you do not actively put time aside for things outside study and work, spare time can be very hard to come by. I did not fully appreciate this until later in my degree when I finally decided to take up the hobbies that I always wanted to do but thought I never had the time for.

What are your career plans from here?

Next year, I will undertake an associateship at the Supreme Court of Western Australia. The year after next, I will start as a graduate at a commercial law firm. I am very excited for these opportunities.

Alumni news

Professional award recipients
  • Alumnus Daniel Estrin’s firm Estrin Saul Lawyers, took out the Boutique Law Firm of the Year award at the Annual Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards in Sydney in August, recognising the firm’s excellence in the field of immigration law.
  • Liam Elphick and Tegan Harrington were recipients of Out for Australia 30 under 30 awards.
Law Society of WA's President for 2020

Nicholas van Hattem was elected President of the Law Society of WA in October. Jocelyne Boujos (BJuris '76, LLB '90) was elected Senior Vice President and Rebecca Lee (BSc, LLB '93; LLM '00) was elected Junior Vice President and Treasurer.

Class of 1989 reunion

Meredith Blake with colleagues

L-R Andrew Monisse, Meredith Blake, Cameron Belyea

A 30-year 1989 reunion organised by Alumni Stephen Hicks, Libby Wilkes and Alex Groves was held at the University Club in September. The event was well attended by alumni including Law School staff member Meredith Blake, who reports that it was a great night.