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School Update

Erika TecheraThis has been a particularly exciting and successful few months for staff, students and alumni. Four new members of academic staff have joined the UWA Law School: Dylan Lino who will shortly complete his PhD at Melbourne University focusing on Indigenous peoples and constitutional recognition, Dr Juan He (public international law, international environmental law) who joins us from Zhejiang University, Dr Dominic Dagbanja whose research and teaching focuses on international commercial law and Dr Andrew Schmulow who specialises in financial regulation and will be predominantly teaching into the Business Law Major. In addition, Dr Jade Lindley joined the Law School as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow working on issues of piracy, security and transnational crime.

In July the UWA Professional platform was launched by the Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor (Professor Dawn Freshwater) and President of the WA Bar Association (Matthew Howard SC). UWA Professional is an online, subscription based service providing pre-recorded and live CPD seminars, industry news and legal research articles. To assist our graduates' transition to the workplace we will be giving all graduating students one year subscription to UWA Professional as a gift at the September graduation. We encourage our alumni to be part of this exciting initiative as presenters or participants.

One of our recent graduates, Ms Ilona Quahe is a 2016 Australia-at-Large Rhodes Scholar. This is a wonderful achievement. Dr Sarah Knuckey, an alumna now at Columbia University Law School, visited campus and met with staff over lunch to discuss her work as Director of the Human Rights Clinic. This provided students with the opportunity to hear about her work and career journey.

Meredith Blake has been successful as part of a team of 10 researchers (4 at UWA) who received an NH&MRC grant for the project, entitled ‘Optimising advance care planning in dementia through supported decision-making: An exploratory mixed methods study of community perceptions and law reform challenges in Australia to establish a ‘Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre’. The grant has a value of $493,000 and involves a number of partners. In other staff news, Tracey Atkins and Jacinta Dharmananda won 2015 UWA Excellence in Teaching Awards. Associate Professor Natalie Skead has been recognised in the UWA Research Awards and Honours 2016 as part of Research Week. She received the Vice-Chancellor’s Early Career Investigators Award.

At the national level Penny Carruthers has received a National Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. This is an outstanding achievement and recognition of Penny’s commitment to higher education, teaching excellence and students’ learning experience, over many years. This brings the total number of Law School staff with national recognition of their teaching, to four.

Finally, Professor Erika Techera was awarded the Lawyers Weekly, 2016 Australian Law Awards - Academic of the Year. This award recognises Erika's passion for the law, professional excellence and expertise and will no doubt contribute to further raising the UWA Law School’s profile.

Law Students benefit from ministerial and diplomatic insight

Kim BeazleyThe University of Western Australia’s Law School and the Perth USAsia Centre have welcomed the return of former federal defence minister, the honourable Kim Beazley AC to his alma mater after serving as Australia’s Ambassador to the United States for six years.

Mr Beazley, who previously held the position of professorial fellow of political science and international relations at UWA, has rejoined the University as an Honorary Fellow in UWA’s Law School. In addition, Mr Beazley has also taken up an honorary appointment as Senior Research Fellow with the Perth USAsia Centre based at UWA and will also be joining the Centre’s board of directors.

Mr Beazley has also joined the international law teaching team, delivering guest lectures in the Master of International Law course as well as lecturing undergraduate students majoring in law and society.

He is also delivering guest lectures in the Faculty of Arts in Master of International Relations units on US foreign policy, international relations in the Asia-Pacific and international relations more broadly.

“Kim Beazley will share with our students his wealth of experience as a former deputy prime minister, federal defence minister, leader of the opposition and US Ambassador,” Professor Techera said.

“Our students will have an outstanding opportunity to learn more about international relations and particularly US foreign policy from a man who has been involved at the highest level of negotiations.”

Mr Beazley’s longstanding interest in US history and politics began during his studies at UWA and as a Rhodes Scholar. His Master’s thesis focused on the Australia-US Alliance.


Photo: Kim Beazley AC for the Perth USAsia Centre

Fiona McGaughey briefs United Nations

Fiona McGaughey at the United NationsAugust saw UWA Law School’s Fiona McGaughey brief the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on the preliminary findings from her thesis on the role of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in monitoring international human rights law.

In particular, Fiona compared NGO engagement with UN human rights treaty bodies such as CERD and NGO engagement with the Human Rights Council.  She discussed the importance of the NGO role in providing information to UN human rights bodies and proposed recommendations for continued engagement of NGOs for consideration by the CERD Committee, inviting the Committee to give feedback.

Thanks to a Graduate Women WA bursary, Fiona had travelled to Geneva last year also to interview CERD Committee members, UN staff, NGOs and Government representatives and to observe sessions at the Human Rights Council.  Fiona has taken up a position as the Acting Director of the Law and Society Major and teaches into the major.


Photo: Fiona McGaughey with members of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Students launch International Law Club and Journal

ILC Members In February 2016, UWA Law School students were successful in establishing a new UWA Student Guild Club – the International Law Club (ILC). During the year the ILC held a number of events including a seminar series featuring Professors Stephen Smith and Erika Techera as well as Honorary Fellow Kim Beazley.

The ILC has also run a weekly online blog called JusT Cogens, involving a lighter take on contemporary international law issues. On 25th October 2016 the International Law Club launched its journal – the Perth International Law Journal. The first issue of this student-run journal included a compilation of excellent international law articles written exclusively by students.

In 2017 the students plan to transition the journal to a peer-reviewed publication and would welcome the involvement of alumni on the editorial board. The formation of the ILC and the creation of the Perth International Law Journal follow on from an increase in international law academics at UWA Law School and the development of the Master of International Law program and double degree Master of International Law/Master of International Relations with the Faculty of Arts.

The UWA Law School has committed to an expansion of research and teaching in this area and that has been matched by the enthusiasm of our students with the ILC and the journal. We are very proud to support this initiative.

Photo: International Law Club members with Dean Erika Techera.

Winthrop Professor Peter Handford farewelled

Peter Handford and Erika Techera
On 27 October, the Law School was delighted to welcome friends and colleagues to an event at the University Club to celebrate the career and mark the retirement of Winthrop Professor Peter Handford.  The personal and professional regard with which Peter is held was marked by the variety of the attendees at his farewell.  These included a former Attorney General, the current and former Deans of Law, and colleagues from across the span of his near 30-year term with the School.

In her speech to mark the occasion, Professor Erika Techera highlighted the numerous contributions Peter has made to the Law School, as well as the University and wider Western Australian community during his time here. She noted that Professor Handford has been associated with the UWA Law School for 38 years and retired in 2016. He commenced at UWA in 1977 , as a visiting lecturer. This visiting post became a permanent appointment and he remained on staff until 1983 when he moved to the WA Law Reform Commission. Nevertheless, he continued teaching on a casual and later fractional basis. He returned the Law School full time in 1998 and remained so until 2013 when he moved to a fractional appointment. Peter is admitted as a barrister in 2 states and the High Court of Australia, as well as Middle Temple in England. Through his work with the WA Law Reform Commission as Executive Officer and Director of Research he has made significant contributions to a number of reports.

Over the course of his employment at UWA Peter has had a number of roles including visiting lecturer, lecturer, senior lecturer, associate professor, professor and Winthrop Professor, Higher Degree Coordinator, Associate Dean, Sub-Dean, Deputy Dean. This exhausting list has been matched by the comprehensive range of units he has taught from legal process and common law, to agency, succession, commercial law, comparative law, and conflict of laws, to name just a few. But his passion lies in the area of torts. His books, include Tort Liability for Psychiatric Damage and Tort Liability for Mental Harm, which have been described as a ‘definitive treatment’, ‘indispensable’, ‘a work of impressive scholarship’, and ‘a source of enlightenment for student and scholar’.

His lesser known works include ‘A Strange Seventeenth Century Murder Case’ and ‘The Snail’s Antipodean Adventures’. Peter has been a highly regarded member of the Law School, earning the trust and respect of colleagues over many years. We thank him for his dedication, professionalism and academic wisdom, and wish him well in his retirement.

 Photo: Dean Erika Techera with Winthrop Professor Peter Handford

Dedication in honour of Dr Peter Johnston

PJ EMoot Court


On Thursday 4 November, family, friends and colleagues, celebrated the dedication of the E-Moot Court in honour of the late Dr Peter Johnston. Peter touched many lives and is remembered fondly as an inspiring advocate, mentor and scholar. This fitting tribute in recognition of his life and extraordinary contribution to the Australian legal community will ensure that Peter’s legacy continues to live on at the UWA Law School.

Peter Johnston was an alumnus of the UWA Law School who passed away in 2015. He was passionate about the scholarship and practice of law and was associated with the UWA Law School for over 50 years; as a student, tutor, lecturer, professor and scholar, as well as coordinator of the Jessup Moot competition team.  It is in this last capacity that he is particularly fondly remembered. Many students have benefited from the considerable support provided by the legal profession and academics as practise judges for the Jessup Moot competition. The leadership, direction and the dedicated guidance that Peter Johnston provided contributed significantly to the success of our teams.

Nearly $80,000 has been raised in support of the Peter Johnston Memorial Fund, which has now been endowed in perpetuity to support the UWA Jessup Moot. Donations will continue to be accepted to this fund, which will ensure that our students have access to exceptional development opportunities like participation in the Jessup Moot well into the future. If you are interested in making a gift to this fund, please contact Jessica Soulsby, Development Manager for the Faculty of Law, at +61 8 6488 2764.

We would like to thank all donors to the Peter Johnston Memorial Fund, and in particular the Honourable Chief Justice Robert French AC CitWA and the Honourable Dr Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC for their strong support. We encourage you to consider donating to this fund, focused on supporting students in an area dear to the heart of Peter Johnston.

Photo: E-Moot Court Memorial Plaque

Law School International


Professor Erika Techera, Dean of Law, was part of a UWA delegation to South America in May. She joined the Deans of Science and Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, as well as the Pro Vice Chancellor International (Iain Watt) and Sara Normand (UWA’s in country staff member). The delegation visited Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico meeting with staff at universities and funding agencies as well as our Embassies. Meetings were held with the Australian Ambassador to Brazil in Sao Paulo and other Embassy staff in Brasilia, as well as Austrade in Brazil and Colombia. Discussions related to ways in which to promote our programs in Latin America and engage in potential research with industry and peak bodies.

Professor Techera visited various university law schools to discuss areas of mutual research interest, possibilities for exchange programs, study abroad and short courses as well as promoting our own Masters programs. Historically, a hurdle in many universities has been the lack of classes taught in English. However, it is clear that increasingly Latin American universities are offering such classes and are keen to engage with UWA. Promotion events held with our agents in each city which provided an opportunity to present on our programs and to talk to potential students. There was much interest in PhD research projects connected with the Centre for Mining Energy & Natural Resources Law and the Master of Taxation Law in particular.

In Colombia the Dean of Law joined Engineering colleagues at meetings to demonstrate our capacity in relation to mining, oil and gas regulation, and other areas of interest to engineering projects. An important element of the trip were several visits to funding agencies including several that provide scholarships for students to undertake UG, Masters and PhD research abroad. A number of student recruitment events were held to promote our programs and research to potential students. This has already borne fruit with applications being received from potential PhD candidates. Discussions are ongoing with potential university partners.


Alumni Update

London Alumni EventOur alumni have been involved around the world in different work, projects and activities. The Dean attended the recent London Dinner and London Reception hosted by the Friends of UWA UK. A number of UK-based alumni have interesting developments: for example, Dr Ben Spagnolo (2004) recently moved to the University of Cambridge and Jacquie McArthur (2009) has joined the London Bar at Essex Court Chambers. Elissa James (2008) has returned from the UK and is now in Hong Kong focusing her energy on writing and photography for her recently launched webpage irislillian.com.

Back in Australia, an event in May marked the 35th Anniversary of the class of 1981 and was organised by Karen Farley SC, Noelle Hossen and Philippa Rezos with invitees including the Attorney General Michael Mischin and UWA Law School Honorary Fellow Stuart Barrymore. In addition, Alumnus Peter Quinlan SC (1994) has been appointed Solicitor General of WA. Glen McLeod (1976) was recognised in the Law Society Lawyer of the Year Award, as were Claire Rossi (1980) and Michael Geelhoed (2006). The Honourable Justice Carmel McLure QC (1979) was made a lifetime member.

Law School alumni the Honourable Justice Carmel McLure, the Honourable Cheryl Edwardes (1984) and Carmelo Randazzo (1986) have been recognised in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Justice Carmel McLure, President of the WA Court of Appeal was one of only 13 Australians to receive the top honour of Companion in the General Division (AC) of the Order of Australia.

Justice McLure was recognised for “eminent service to the law and to the judiciary in Western Australia, to legal administration and professional development, and to the community through contributions to tertiary education and arts organisations”.

Former WA Attorney-General and Minister for Environment, Cheryl Edwardes was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division in recognition of her significant service to the people and Parliament of Western Australia, to the law and to the environment, and through executive roles with business, education and community organisations.
Carmelo Randazzo was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in the general division for service to the community of Darwin.

Photo: London Alumni Event