Legal News & Views

  • Two coronial inquests make findings about unconscious racism

    For Reconciliation Week, a reflective discussion on two significant recent coronial inquests where the families of the deceased asked the coroner to make finding about unconscious bias or racism. Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day died after sustaining serious head injuries in a Victorian police cell in 2017, and Naomi Williams, a pregnant 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, died of sepsis in hospital in regional NSW in 2016. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples should be aware that this program and website contains images and names of people who have passed away and that traumatic events will be described.

  • Covid-19 emergency responses for witnessing wills and redundancy payouts. And a win for traumatised US Facebook content moderators

    Three states are now allowing virtual witnessing of wills. How does that work? Also how redundancy payments negotiated with Covid-19 affected employers? And, in a world first, Facebook pays $US52 million to content moderators who have been traumatised by sifting through distressing social media material.   &nbs

  • Covid-19 public health rules and the police

    As we begin to emerge from isolation we will all still need to continue to comply with safe physical distancing rules. As the rules change, we will need to adjust. How have we, and those that enforce the public health rules done so far?

  • Introducing Section 71: High Court cases that changed Australia
  • Prisoners, drug users, the homeless and Covid-19

    Prisoner Mark Rowson argued that he was particularly vulnerable if he contracted Covid-19, but the Supreme Court of Victoria has refused to release him. How Covid-19 has impacted on the illicit drug market and also healthcare responses such as the methadone program. And, a much praised initiative has been the emergency accommodation in hotels for the homeless, but some peer advocates say there have been unintended consequences.

  • Australia’s legal response to WW1 and the 1919 Spanish Flu

    A timely reflection on the legal responses to two separate but intimately-linked tragedies. During war we saw restrictions on food prices, protests and the freedoms of German Australians. During the Spanish flu crisis we saw maritime quarantines, closed internal borders and spats between the states and feds. Sound familiar?

  • High Court ruling exposes gaps in Australia's protections for public interest journalism. And is it still murder if the victim dies eight months after the assault?

    News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst could still face charges despite the High Court ruling that the AFP's raid on her home in June 2019 was carried out on the basis of a flawed warrant. What does this case mean for the public's right to know and press freedom? And an elderly man brutally attacked in a home invasion died eight months later, but the High Court ruled the attacker was responsible for his death. The case may have implications for the current NSW Homicide Squad investigation into the COVID-19 related deaths and infections on the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

  • How will the $130 billion JobKeeper package work? And workers' compensation at home

    The covid-19 crisis is forcing fundamental, previously unimaginable changes to way we organise and regulate employment. We take a look at the JobKeeper payment scheme. Also, if you have an accident while working from home, are you covered by workers' compensation?

  • George Pell freed from prison following High Court decision

    In an unanimous decision the High Court of Australia has quashed George Pell's convictions for historic child sex offences and has released him from prison. If this conversation raises issues or causes emotional distress please contact Lifeline 13 11 14

  • Criminal and civil courts in the age of COVID-19

    Day by day our courts are being totally transformed by the COVID-19 crisis. Civil courts are using video and audio links. New criminal jury trials have been suspended and judge alone criminal trials are becoming rare. A recent major drug conspiracy trial in the NSW District Court was derailed after concerns about safe distancing, but it wasn't the jury that raised fears of catching coronavirus.

  • COVID-19, prisons and the courts. And the homeless man fined for dumpster diving

    Should prisoners be released because of the risks around coronavirus? And the case of the homeless man, just released from prison who was fined $250 for salvaging pies and iced coffees from a dumpster.

  • How the coronavirus crisis is stress-testing commercial contracts. And how enforceable are self-isolation orders?

    As business reels from the impact of the coronavirus, lawyers are poring over contracts, looking for ways to help their clients either enforce, or escape from their contractual obligations. Also authorities are requiring certain groups of people to 'self isolate'. Will this work?

  • Protecting buyers from dodgy car loans

    Should car dealers & retailers be exempt from the requirements of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act? The Royal Commission into Banking and the Financial Services Industry recommended the removal of the exemption. But until that happens, consumers will continue to have very troubling experiences.

  • High Court clears former London cop of blowing up his holiday home. Also, should juries in child sex-abuse trials hear about prior convictions?

    The High Court of Australia has ordered the immediate acquittal and release of Queensland man Eamonn Coughlan who was serving a jail sentence for arson and attempted fraud. And, new laws to be introduced that will broaden what evidence a jury can hear in child sex-abuse trials.

  • Legal diversity in Malaysia

    Malaysia's complex politics and legal systems are shaped by the nation's ethnic and religious diversity. How religious and government authorities categorise you can have a huge impact on your life. Meet a Muslim feminist slam poet, a Hindu mother who won a landmark court case, a transgender activist and a government minister.

  • Former Facebook moderator sues social media giant for PTSD

    Social media can be useful connecting people and ideas but moderators are needed to keep disturbing and toxic material off the platforms. Chris Gray, a former Facebook moderator claims viewing such content in order to keep us safe, gave him PTSD. He's the lead plaintiff in an action against Facebook and CPL, the contracting company that employed him. *And a warning this program discusses disturbing material*

  • The High Court rules Indigenous people can't be 'aliens'. Plus, is illegally obtained evidence allowed in court?

    Can persons of Aboriginal heritage who are not citizens be deported? In the cases of Brendan Thoms and Daniel Love, the majority of the High Court says no. And, the High Court rules that illegally obtained video evidence of serious animal cruelty is not admissible in a prosecution involving the training of greyhounds. Why?

  • Bushfire smoke, air pollution and the law

    The impact of this summer's bushfires has been devastating. What is less clear are the health consequences of smoke inhalation and the legal implications for employers. Some recent Australian and international court cases may provide a guide.

  • Two Queensland Court decisions involving workplace injuries.

    The case of the Gold Coast sales assistant injured in a jewellery store robbery and the case of the Brisbane teacher who was injured falling from a rope-swing while on a school trip to Vanuatu.

  • Do Victorian committals deliver fair and fast justice?

    Unlike other states, it's common for victims of crime to give evidence at a Victorian committal hearing. The state's Law Reform Commission is currently considering how well this system works. While victim advocates want big changes, defence lawyers say committals are an important filter.