Obiter Dicta

June 2020


Vale The Honourable Stephen Thackray

Stephen Thackray
The Honourable Stephen Thackray

Stephen Thackray was one of the Law School’s most outstanding graduates. Stephen served as a legal practitioner and judicial officer for more than 40 years, devoting most of his time in the law to family law.

He was the Chief Judge of the Family Court of WA and a Justice of the Family Court of Australia until 6 January 2019. From March 2017 until his retirement from the Full Court in December 2018, Stephen was a Senior Judge of the Appeal Division of the Family Court of Australia. A close friend of the UWA Law School and Adjunct Professor, Stephen supported the School with enthusiasm, giving guest lectures and engaging with mediation training and other dispute resolution initiatives.

His Honour’s Family Court judgments throughout his judicial career are testament to his intellectual prowess and pre-eminence in family law. We were deeply saddened by the news of Stephen’s sudden and untimely death on Monday 30 March and extend our deepest sympathy to his family, colleagues and friends.  He will be sorely missed. 




Woman Lawyer of the Year Award

Congratulations to Kate Offer who received this award at the Women Lawyers of Western Australia award ceremony on 6 March.  The award recognises Kate’s tireless commitment to justice through providing exceptional, innovative and practice-focused legal education over a sustained period.


Law Access Virtual Walk for Justice

Law Access Walk

In a strong show of support for Law Access and pro-bono legal services in WA, the Law School Staff and Student Team raised $4,962, winning the Top Overall Team perpetual trophy.

Huge thanks to team leader Dr Marilyn Bromberg for coordinating and motivating the UWA team, sponsors and donors this year. Law Access raised a record total of $99,869 from this event, which will be invaluable support to continue their important work. 

Law Access advises that donations can be made online any time.



Indigenous legal education and the Juris Doctor

UWA Juris Doctor students at Matilda Bay listening to a Noongar guide


In 2018 the Law School and the School of Indigenous Studies at UWA embarked on a project to incorporate Indigenous knowledges, cultures and experiences throughout the UWA Juris Doctor (JD) degree.

The initial curriculum is now well underway and being implemented across first- and second-level core units, with work continuing on the remaining core subjects. Recently, project leader Dr Ambelin Kwaymullia published a free downloadable access article on the UWA Indigenisation Project.




Dean's Circle

In the previous issue of Obiter Dicta, we announced the Dean’s Circle, launched in November last year, which celebrates philanthropy and the individuals who have committed to making a vital contribution to the future of legal education at UWA. We welcome new Dean’s Circle Members the Hon. Justice Bruno Fiannaca, Joe Longo and Mary-Eileen Scanlan, and the McCusker Charitable Foundation.


JD international accreditation

The Legal Profession Qualifying Board of Malaysia has approved the recognition of the UWA JD. UWA JD graduates are now eligible to sit the Malaysian CLP examination. This adds to the existing recognition of the JD in Singapore and China.


Dual JD with the University of Denver

After three years of careful planning and negotiation, we have introduced a dual JD with the University of Denver in the United States. Under this program, a student who successfully undertakes two years of the JD at UWA and two years at Denver University receives a JD from both institutions and is eligible for admission to practise law in Australia and the US. The program is open in Semester 2, 2020.


Latest issue of the UWA Law Review

The latest edition of the Law Review features articles by authors including UWA Law School staff and alumni. The issue covers a range of fascinating topics including analysis of who publishes in the top Australian and global law journals, alternative dispute resolution, evidence and freedom of speech. Browse the issue online.


CPD event raised funds for Bushfire Appeal

A joint Law School and Law Society event on climate change, responding to the devastating bushfires in December and January this year, raised more than $7,000 for the Red Cross Bushfires Appeal.


Criminology conference

Conference attendees standing in UWA Law courtyard

Between 10 and 13 December 2019, the UWA Law School hosted the 32nd Australia and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher and the main ANZSOC Conference. The theme for the conference was 'Justice Re-imagined: the intersection between academia, government, industry and the community'. This theme explored how to address crime in a more holistic way through a collaboration between all parties involved.

More than 400 delegates from Australia, New Zealand and 12 countries around the world attended. UWA researchers Dr Jade Lindley, Dr Joe Clare, Associate Professor Hilde Tubex and Professor Harry Blagg were local members of the organising committee.



ALRC Seminar on Corporate Responsibility

Panel at a Corporate Responsibility seminar
Panellists from L to R: Paul D Evans, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Rebecca Faugno, UWA; Joe Longo, Senior Advisor, Herbert Smith Freehills; Professor Elise Bant, UWA; Justice Sarah Derrington SC, President of the ALRC; and Matt Corrigan, General Counsel at ALRC.

Professor Elise Bant convened a panel of experts to provide an update and to encourage feedback into the Australian Law Reform Commission’s enquiry into Corporate Criminal Responsibility at a seminar on Monday 24 February at the State Library. The panel discussion focused on the ALRC’s proposed model of corporate regulation, the attribution of criminal responsibility to corporations and individual liability for corporate fault, and other aspects of the proposals.

Student achievements

2019 prize winners and 2020 scholarship recipients 

Congratulations to our student award winners. Although we were unable to hold our annual Law Awards Ceremony this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can see the full list of our student award winners and a selection of video messages.


Jessup Moot

2020 UWA Jessup Moot team

The Philip C. Jessup International Moot team worked tirelessly over the summer. They performed exceptionally well in the National Championship held in Canberra in February, reaching the semi-finals where they lost to UQ by one point. Congratulations to the team: Thomas Coltrona, Alexander Gibson, Aleasha Sanchez-Lawson, Tayu Wilker and Benjamin Wong, and their dedicated coaches Ebony Back, Zac Molloy Mencshelyi and Andrew Hanna [absent]. Further congratulations to Alexander Gibson, who was awarded a speaking prize.

Many thanks to everyone who gave their time to judge practice moots: these greatly assisted in the team’s performance and learning.

If you would like to support the Jessup Moot team, contact the Law School.


2020 Ciara Glennon Memorial Scholarship

The 2020 Ciara Glennon Memorial Scholarship was awarded to second-year Juris Doctor student Isabel Philip. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were unable to hold the formal presentation at the usual time this year. We hope to do so later in the year.


McCusker Law Scholarship

We are delighted to announce the establishment of the McCusker Law Scholarship and the inaugural recipient, Megan Menon


Financial Times and Innovative Lawyers Global Legal Hackathon

Zoom screenshot of webinar presenters

The Law School fielded two teams in the Global Legal Hackathon recently. A team from Rio Tinto, UWA Law School, and Australian law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth created a digital legal toolkit to help company lawyers manage health, safety and environment incidents. The mobile phone app helps the user conduct an initial assessment and provides a range of guidance and communications functions. The second team worked on an Employer Information Broadcasting System to safely transition employee return to work through ongoing management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well done to Director of Disruption Kate Offer and students Roshni Kaila, Julia Symons, Lucy Burns, Sam Dulyba, Helena Trang, Edmumd Yoong, Pragya Srivistana, Esther Willmott and Steph O’Neill.

Staff updates

Australian Research Council Future Fellow

Professor Elise Bant was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to examine corporate liability for serious civil misconduct in February. Professor Bant has received funding of $919,150 over four years for her project, 'Unravelling Corporate Fraud: re-purposing ancient laws for modern times'. The intended outcome of her research is a road map for comprehensive judicial and legislative law reform to achieve more just, effective and efficient regulation of corporate fraud.


Law School researchers respond to COVID-19

A number of staff have contributed their research expertise to legal issues arising from COVID 19 including:

  • Camila Andersen in collaboration with Alternative Contracting, 'Social Contract for COVID' in response to the WHO’s call for info about the virus.
  • Meredith Blake,'UWA Expert Series - Allocation of scarce health care resources raises confronting ethical issues'
  • Michael Blakeney, 'Profiteering from the Pandemic: Counterfeiting and the COVID-19 Crisis' (2020), BioScience Law Review(forthcoming).
  • Michael Douglas and John Eldridge, ‘Coronavirus and the Law of Obligations’ (2020), UNSW Law Journal Forum (forthcoming).
  • Alex Jane, Jeannie Paterson, Elise Bant and Marco Rizzi, 'Coming clean on hand sanitisers', Pursuit (21 April 2020).
  • Rick Krever, ‘Tax Responses to a Pandemic: An Australian Case Study’ (2020) 1(1) Belt and Road Initiative Tax Journal 52-57.
  • Tamara Tulich, Marco Rizzi, Fiona McGaughey, 'Fighting COVID 19 – Legal Powers and Risks': Australia, VerfBlog, 2020/4/10.


Why don't students attend lectures?

Research by Law School academics throws light on reasons why student attendance at lectures has decreased: Natalie Skead, Fiona McGaughey, Liam Elphick, Murray Wesson & Kate Offer, 'If you record, they will not come – but does it really matter? Student attendance and lecture recording at an Australian law school' (2020) The Law Teacher.


Academic promotions

We warmly congratulate our staff on their promotions this year:

To Professor:
Dr Sarah Murray 

To Senior Lecturers:
Dr Dominic Dagbanja
Jacinta Dharmanada
Dr Sagi Peari


Staff departures

We bid farewell to Nicole Wilson-Rogers and Dr Brenda McGivern. Dr McGivern was formerly Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education and Senior Lecturer in the Law School, and since her appointment in December 2019 is a Member of the Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal. Dr McGivern has been appointed Adjunct Associate Professor at UWA.


New staff

We welcome new academic staff:

  • Claire Kaylock, Lecturer from February 2020. Claire returned to Perth from Melbourne where she was teaching and leading academic law programs at Melbourne Law School and Monash. Claire taught Contract at UWA in Semester 1.
  • Dr Nicholas Tiverios, Senior Lecturer from 1 July 2020. Nicholas completed his PhD as the inaugural Peter Birks Memorial Scholar at University College London in 2018.  Nicholas holds a Master of Laws (Dist.) from University College London (where he was ranked first in his year and studied on the Sir John Salmond Scholarship) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons I) from The University of Western Australia.  He joins us from UNSW where he has been researching and teaching primarily in Contract, Equity & Trusts and Unjust Enrichment & Restitution.

Law School spotlights

Dr Nicholas Tiverios

Nick Tiverios

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

A broad combination of private law subjects. In Semester 2, 2020, I will be teaching Remedies with Dr Felicity Maher. In Semester 1, 2021, I will be teaching Contract Law with Professor Robyn Carroll and Unjust Enrichment and Restitution with Professor Elise Bant.


What are your research interests and priorities?

I publish and teach in the areas of contract law, equity, remedies, unjust enrichment, legal history and jurisprudence. I recently published a monograph entitled Contractual Penalties in Australia and the United Kingdom – History, Theory and Practice (Federation Press 2019) (foreword by the Hon Justice James Edelman). I am also co-editing Justifying Private Rights (Hart, forthcoming), a collection of essays on contemporary private law theory. My current research priorities involve working on several papers with Professor Ben McFarlane, Chair of English Law at the University of Oxford. Our first paper addresses relief against forfeiture and penalties in England and Australia (to be published in the collected volume Punishment and Private Law [Hart, forthcoming]) and our second paper looks at the underlying nature of specific equitable doctrines and primary legal rules. I am also working on a project with Dr Michael Crawford (UNSW) that looks at the application of the principles of equitable property to novel circumstances (e.g. data trusts, intermediated securities and equitable assignments). 


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

First and foremost, there is something important to me about teaching students at a university that is near and dear to my heart. It is great to be back home. Although I left Perth on graduating from UWA Law School in 2011, the Law School always held a special place in my heart as the institution where I developed an infectious interest in the law. Second, I hope to contribute to making the study of private law at UWA as rigorous as possible, an aspiration made easier by the excellent private law scholars already at the University.

Ashleigh Pruitt

Ashleigh Pruitt

You graduated LLM International Law/International Relations Law at UWA in 2018. What benefits have you experienced from your coursework master's?

During my coursework master's I had the opportunity to learn a wide range of subjects that I was really interested in, particularly climate change law, human rights, and legal and political critical theories. I really valued being able to combine the two master's, which really went hand-in-hand with each other and gave me the confidence to undertake further research in international human rights law, particularly child rights, an area that I’m personally passionate about.


You commenced your PhD in the Law School in 2020. Tell us about the research you are undertaking.

My PhD is focused on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Australia and similar jurisdictions. It aims to better understand how child rights can be improved in Australia by learning from approaches undertaken in other jurisdictions.


Why did you choose to undertake your PhD at UWA?

After doing my master's at UWA, it felt only natural to continue with my PhD here as well, especially with staff and people in the Law School who were really supportive of me continuing my research in international law. I also love the campus.

Bre Hanahan

Bre Shanahan

You're a second-year JD student. How would you describe your time so far in the Law School?

I have really enjoyed my time in the Law School. I didn't quite expect to enjoy it as much as I have. I have been really inspired by the intelligent and strong women in the School. Heading into first year, I considered myself to be quite shy and not really cut out for advocacy. I would never have seen myself taking on a role like Guild President. I've found the Law School to be a really supportive space to engage in my units and explore different things I find interesting. 


You're also the UWA 2020 Guild President. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your role?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected this year enormously. Heading into 2020, there were a lot of goals and projects I had set out to do, and they were quite quickly taken off the table after COVID-19 hit Perth. It was a bit of an adjustment, having to move from a quite clear and structured plan to being run off my feet in a time when no-one really knew what would come next. It has been a privilege to represent students in such an uncertain time for all of us. COVID-19 has affected almost every part of students’ lives and working to hopefully relieve some of the stress has been really rewarding.

What are your career aspirations when you graduate?

Spending this year advocating for young people has been really rewarding. I think I'd enjoy working at somewhere like the Women's Legal Service. The beauty of a law degree is that the choices are so diverse, so I am looking forward to trying out many different things.

Alumni news

Pandemic precedent in WA
Old pandemic historical photos

An area of frustration in the battle against COVID-19 for the Western Australian government has been the cruise ship industry. Over a century ago in 1918, a similar dilemma was faced when a ship from South Africa returned carrying hundreds of Australian soldiers infected with Spanish influenza. One of the soldiers aboard (Eric Heenan Sr) was infected and received life-saving treatment at Woodman Point on the coast of WA. A quarantine tent city was erected to prevent the disease from spreading ashore, similar to the decision made to use Rottnest Island as a quarantine zone during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After surviving this ordeal, Eric studied law at the original UWA Irwin Street campus, was admitted in 1929 and was a member of the Western Australian Legislative Council from 1936 to 1968. Read the full article.

Law alumni respond to the students in crisis from COVID-19
The UWA Alumni Relations team is working with our Student Welfare team to pair Law alumni with students in crisis to advise on a variety of legal matters. If you're interested in providing pro-bono legal advice in the areas of tenancy, immigration or insurance law and haven’t signed up already, please register for the COVID-19 Emergency Appeal
Pro-bono live webinar for students in crisis - Thursday 21 May 2020

To assist students in crisis due to COVID-19, Law alumna Clare van Drunen LLB ’10, was invited to join a panel including UWA Guild President and JD student Bre Shanahan to provide information on the recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1987. Currently working as a Senior Associate at Clayton Utz, Clare informed more than 40 students of their legal tenancy rights and entitlements, advised on verbal lease agreements and answered questions around proof of financial hardship and eviction notices. This successful webinar was the first in a series of webinars coordinated by the Alumni Relations and Student Welfare teams aimed at providing alumni support for our students. 

Australia Day Honours

Ilana Atlas was appointed as Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 2020 Australia Day honours. Ilana completed her B Juris (Hons) in 1975 and LLB (Hons) in 1976.

Senior Counsel Appointments in 2019
  • Mr Jason Maclaurin LLB ‘93
  • Mr Joseph Garas LLB ‘96
  • Mr Henry Jackson BA, LLB ‘97
  • Ms Laura Christian LLB ‘96
  • Ms Julie Taylor LLB '03
Recent District Court of WA appointments
  • Julie Wager (BJuris ’84), (LLB ’85) appointed Chief Judge
  • Hylton Quail (BJuris ’90), (LLB ’91), (BA ’92) appointed Judge
  • Mara Barone (LLB, BA ’00), (LLM ’11), appointed Judge
Heading overseas to study
Alex Cook (BCom), (JD ’18) was accepted into the University of Oxford's Masters of Law and Finance and will head to England when possible. 
Law grad profile: Ebony Back (BA '15), (JD '18)

Ebony Back

Tell us about your personal connection with UWA and a little bit about your experience here.

When I started university I would never have thought I would end up as a lawyer. I thought there was a special breed of super-smart people who became lawyers. The early days of my arts degree had more than a few set-backs while I tried different subjects in the hope of finding something that engaged me. It was during my international relations studies that I got a taste of how law can shape society, which set me on the pathway to a career in law.

Studying at UWA gave me the opportunity to gain experience, expand my networks and discover my passions through overseas study, internships and volunteering. 

During both my arts and law degrees I was fortunate enough to study overseas. I completed a communications unit at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and then an international law unit at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I also had the opportunity to undertake a number of internships for course credit as part of my degree, including an internship with the United States Congress in Washington DC. 

I also met inspiring mentors and built lifelong friendships through my involvement in UniMentor, UWA Sports and the Blackstone Society.

Please tell us a bit about your journey since UWA. How was your time at UWA important to your life today?

After graduating from my law degree, I worked as an Associate at the Federal Court of Australia where I assisted with hearings, judgments and the day-to-day management of the Court. I subsequently joined the law firm, Allens, where I have worked in the Disputes and Investigations and the Projects teams. 

My studies taught me the value of hard work and persistence. I learnt to solve complex legal questions and think critically. Outside the classroom, I was surrounded by a dazzling array of legal talent: academics, mentors, friends and members of the profession who inspired me and have informed my professional life ever since. 

My time at UWA helped me develop an intellectual curiosity and growth mindset that follows me through all aspects of life.  

What is your passion and how do you want to make a difference in the world?

I am passionate about finding solutions, whether it’s complicated legal disputes in the courtroom or international issues which will shape our future, such as climate change and human rights. The law can be a powerful tool for change in society. I want to build a career around using the skills I have learnt, and will continue to learn, to promote justice where I can. 

What has been the most interesting aspect of your career? Where can it go from here?

The best part of my job is the variety of legal issues I come across. My job often involves an intersection between government, the private sector and the community. No two days are the same and I am always considering a diverse range of legal issues, from contracts, finance, environment, property, regulatory investigations and beyond. 

Additionally, I am grateful to be able to work on matters that directly affect people's lives. As part of my role with Allens, I work with the Humanitarian Group's Asylum Seeker Hub helping to provide migration advice. I have also had the opportunity to help prepare advice on questions of racial discrimination and be a part of the firm's Reconciliation Action Plan.  

If my past experience is anything to go by, continuing to work in law, things will always remain challenging, interesting and compelling.
Class of '94 reunion

Class of 95 reunion

Class of 95 reunion

Michael Tucak (BSc, LLB ’95) and Greg Berinson (BCom, LLB ’96) organised a well-attended reunion in the Law Courtyard.

In Michael’s words: 'It was like the years just melted away for the Class of 94 and Friends Reunion held in the UWA Law Courtyard in March. Around 100 former students congregated around the beloved fountain, aided by DJ Da Do Ron Ron (who was enticed out of retirement for the event) catering from the CARAD Food Truck, and an inspiring speech by alumnus, DPP Amanda Forrester.'

Reviews of the night flooded in: "Great night. Just like 'ol times!", "So much fun :) looking forward to the next one!", "Brilliant!" and "Fabulous to catch up with so many of the old crew (but really not so old, right?)". Rating: 5 Stars.