Obiter Dicta

December 2023

Message from the Dean

It is with some sadness but an enormous dose of gratitude that I write my last Message from the Dean for the Obiter Dicta. After seven years in the role, I have made the decision to step down as Dean and Head of School of the UWA Law School at the end of 2023.

It has been immensely rewarding to lead the Law School over the past seven years, several of which were fraught with significant external and internal challenges. Throughout my tenure our students have remained curious, enthusiastic, (mostly) very hardworking, and some quite brilliant. I am especially grateful to my outstanding colleagues who inspire me daily in their relentless pursuit of the highest academic standards and upholding the Law School’s proud legacy of excellence in legal education, research, and engagement. Thank you, too, to the broader UWA Law School community for your sustained and invaluable support. 

I look forward to my continued association with the Law School and to welcoming and working with our new Dean and Head of School as we look towards our centenary and beyond. My heartfelt thanks and best wishes to all.



From left to right: Jill Toohey, Loma Toohey, Virginia Bell, Robert French, Steph Toohey and Natalie Skead

2023 John Toohey Oration 

On Wednesday 6 September 2023, the Law School held the biannual John Toohey Oration at the Supreme Court of Western Australia. The Hon. Virginia Bell AC, former Justice of the High Court of Australia, gave the Oration entitled The Work of the High Court in the Administration of Criminal Justice. The John Toohey Oration honours the career and contribution to public life of a distinguished and extraordinary graduate of the Law School, the Hon. John Leslie Toohey AC KC. A copy of Ms Bell’s thought provoking paper is available here.

Frank Beasley Medal Awards

On Friday 17 November 2023, the Law School awarded two Frank Beasley Medals in the Beasley Law Library. The Frank Beasley Medal is an award given biannually to distinguished UWA Law School alumni and scholars who have made an outstanding and sustained contribution to the law and the advancement of justice in Western Australia and to legal education at UWA. In 2023, the Medal was awarded to barrister and former Law School lecturer John Fiocco (LLB ‘72) and UWA Emeritus Professor Peter Handford. John Fiocco taught at UWA Law School for over 35 years, mostly in Procedure.  He is a life member of the Law Society of WA, was Lawyer of the Year in 2015 and has remained actively involved with UWA Law School. Since 2017, John has been a barrister at Fourth Floor Chambers.

Peter Handford taught at the Law School between 1977 and 2016 and was involved with the WA Law Reform Commission from 1983 to 1998. Peter was heavily involved in planning the transition from the LLB to the JD. He retired in July 2016 but still researches at UWA as a Senior Honorary Research Fellow. Peter is currently writing a book on the 100-year history of the Law School to be finished for the Centenary. Read more about the Frank Beasley Medal

Peter Handford (left) and John Fiocco (right)     




New Judge in Residence 

We are delighted that the Honourable Andrew Beech (LLB ‘85), former Judge of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, will commence as our Judge in Residence at the Law School in 2024. Mr Beech succeeds the Honourable David Newnes (LLB ’78) who was our Judge in Residence for 2022/2023. The Judge in Residence program fosters engagement between retired members of the judiciary and Law School staff and students. Our sincere thanks to David for the substantial contribution he made to teaching in the JD, as well as for his participation in external engagement activities. David will continue his association with the Law School as an Adjunct Professor. 

Panel on Voice to Parliament

UWA Law School, the UWA Public Policy Institute and the Australian Association of Constitutional Law co-hosted a panel discussion on ‘The Voice to Parliament: Constitutional and Legal Implications for Australians’ on Wednesday 30 August 2023 in the Wesfarmers Lecture Theatre at UWA Business School. The panel consisted of the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, the Hon Robert French AC (LLB ’71), Law School lecturer Aurora Milroy, and Kim Farmer (LLB ’02), Principal Lawyer at Farmer Legal. Law School Associate Professor Murray Wesson chaired the panel. 

From left to right: Robert French, Kim Farmer, Aurora Milroy, Ken Wyatt and Murray Wesson

New Members Dean's Circle

We are delighted that in 2023 we welcomed two new members of the Dean’s Circle: Dr Christine Scholes (LLB ‘93) and the Jaye Radisich Foundation. Members of the Dean’s Circle contribute to the Law School through scholarship endowments, teaching spaces, research projects or strategic funding. Learn more about joining the Dean's Circle.
The Law School has also established the philanthropic Dean’s Foundation, which is for organisations. For more information, go to Dean’s Foundation website.

Staff Awards

Law School Winthrop Professor Michael Blakeney was presented with the Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) for a collection of independent and original research that constitutes a substantial and distinguished contribution to knowledge and understanding in International Intellectual Property Law. Professor Blakeney has produced over a period of more than 30 years a remarkable body of substantial, pioneering, and original research work ranging across five fields of scholarship relating to Intellectual Property. He is the first recipient of an LLD at UWA.

Professor Ian Murray has been awarded the Virginia A Hodgkinson Research Book Prize by the Association for Research on Non-profit Organisations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) for his book Charity Law and Accumulation: An Intergenerational Balance. ARNOVA is a peak global body, with a north American focus, for research in the non-profit area. 

Associate Professor Melanie O’Brien was awarded a Visiting Professorship at the Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, USA for the US 2023-24 academic year. As well, Associate Professor O’Brien’s book From Discrimination to Death: Genocide Process through a Human Rights Lens was shortlisted for the 2023 Australian Legal Research Awards (book category).

Ian Murray accepting his award

Staff Grants in technology, health and crime

UWA Tech & Policy Lab Directors Julia Powles and Jacqueline Alderson, together with IT for Change, have been awarded $494,200 under the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership for their project, Effective Ethical Frameworks for the State as an Enabler of Innovation. This is the third-largest grant in the scheme’s history and the first to WA. Two excellent Research Associates, Tom Loss and Charlie Caruso, have been appointed to the project team. Read more here

Associate Professor Meredith Blake is an Associate Investigator on a multi-university team for a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) scheme grant. The $2.5 million grant is for the Deakin University CRE in ‘Food Retail Environments for Health: Next Generation’. Professor Hilde Tubex has been awarded a Western Australian Office of Crime Statistics and Research (WACSAR) Criminal Justice Research Grant for ‘Mind the gap: A study on the reintegration needs of returning prisoners’ for $32,139.

Election of the 2023 Blackstone Society President 

Congratulations and best wishes to Juris Doctor student Maya Simpson on her election as the President of the Blackstone Society for 2024. Many thanks to outgoing President Claudia Monterosso for all her hard work.


From left to right: Melanie Fraser, Tiffany Chisholm Gardner and Yi-Yun Loei

Sir Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law Moot

The UWA Law School team of Melanie Fraser, Tiffany Chisholm Gardner and Yi-Yun Loei participated in the prestigious Sir Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law Moot in Melbourne from 7-9 October 2023. The team performed extremely well, making the Grand Final where they were runners-up to Melbourne Law School. Tiffany Chisholm Gardner won the award for best speaker in the preliminary rounds and shared the best speaker award for the Grand Final.

Upcoming Events

Private and Commercial law Conference, 14-15 December 2023
The Law School will host the annual Private and Commercial Law Conference at UWA on 14–15 December 2023. The 2023 conference program includes papers by leading and emerging private law scholars from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and New Zealand. Panels will cover a wide range of issues such as contract, equity, trusts, torts, and unjust enrichment. CPD points are available for in person attendance. Registration is essential.
Unravelling Corporate Fraud Conference, 22 February 2024
UWA Law School and law firm HWF are sponsoring the 2024 Unravelling Corporate Fraud Conference, to be held on 22 February 2024. The conference presents and debates the research findings and recommendations of Professor Elise Bant's Australian Research Council grant project into corporate responsibility. You can access Conference details and registration here
George Winterton Memorial Lecture, 2024
The annual George Winterton Memorial Lecture will be held in Perth on Thursday 11 April 2024. This lecture commemorates the outstanding and lasting contribution of Professor George Winterton to constitutional law scholarship and teaching. The lecture is usually hosted by The University of Sydney Law School, but every three years it is hosted by UWA Law School in recognition of Professor Winterton as an esteemed alumnus. For further information and registration visit:

Congratulations to our Alumni

Recent graduate awarded Monash Scholarship

Our warm congratulations to recent Law School graduate Tristan Taylor (JD ’22) for being awarded a 2024 John Monash Scholarship to study overseas. John Monash Scholars are chosen based on their exceptional capacity for leadership and commitment to issues of national importance.


Alumnus appointed to the Bench 

Congratulations to Matthew Howard SC (LLB ’88) for being appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia in July 2023.

To all alumni, are your details up to date? 

If you would like to update your details for our UWA records, you may do so via this website.