May 2017 will mark the 90th anniversary of The Australian Law Journal since it was first published in 1927.
As part of the 90th anniversary celebrations throughout 2017, the upcoming May issue of ALJ will be a Special Issue on the theme of Indigenous Australians and the Law, with guest editor Professor Megan Davis, who was recently appointed UNSW’s first Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous. The May Special Issue is packed with other historic anniversary milestones and topics of key national urgency and significance, as well as the introduction of new Sections, including on statutory interpretation.
It is therefore quite fitting that one of these new Sections, “The Legal Observer” by Mr Michael Pelly,* commences with an interview with recently retired High Court Chief Justice, The Hon Robert Shenton French AC, twelfth Chief Justice of Australia, who is himself a passionate advocate of the rights of Indigenous Australians and, indeed, for delivering fairness and equality of treatment for all Australians.
“The Legal Observer” is a new section dedicated to a roving discussion of topics outside the current scope of the existing ALJ sections. The transcript of the interview will be available in May, and readers can look forward to hearing the former Chief Justice’s thoughts on a range of matters, including:
- his reflections on “leading” the High Court, the collegiality of “the French High Court”, the technical aspects of judgment-writing and the role of joint judgments in enhancing the efficiency of the Court and “the clarity with which it speaks”.
- his view on mandatory sentencing, Kable, Kirk and America, and the relationship between judicial speeches, judgment writing and the media.
The interview also explores Mr French’s insights on the constitutional function of the High Court and the boundaries of power, and the judgment calls that final appellate judges are often required to make which fall somewhere in between developing the common law and engaging in “incremental law-making”.
Mr French also shared some advice on the “path to the High Court”, and hints on his future career path after the High Court: involving a role on the bench, albeit possibly in a milder clime.
* Michael Pelly is a highly regarded journalist and legal writer, with over 30 years experience, including at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. He has also been a senior adviser to Federal and State Attorneys-General.
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