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Supreme Court Bill - Courts conference timely

Courts conference timely in face of enactment of Supreme Court Bill

Leading public lawyers, judiciary and academics will gather at the School of Law at Victoria University this week (28 & 29 November) for a conference on the functions of the Courts - an event made particularly timely by the recent enactment of the Supreme Court Bill.

“There are unprecedented levels of change in our court system at present, with the creation of the Supreme Court and the Law Commission’s work on court structures. This conference provides international quality examination of key issues in those changes, and more widely,” says Professor Matthew Palmer, Dean of Law at Victoria University.

The conference will be opened by the Hon Margaret Wilson, Attorney-General, and will consist of six sessions:

The Constitutional Role of the Courts Access to Justice Customary Law and Adjudication International Law and Adjudication Bill of Rights/Human Rights Supreme Court Reform and other topical issues.

The opening session will focus on theoretical issues around the Courts’ role vis a vis Parliament. Professor George Williams, Director of the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law at the University of New South Wales and renowned theorist Professor Mark Tushnet from Georgetown University Law Centre will speak on the subject. They will be joined by Claudia Geiringer, Deputy Director of Victoria’s Centre for Public Law, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and chair Sir David Williams QC.

The visit of Judge Dennis Davis, from the Cape High Court of South Africa, is a particular highlight of the Courts conference. Judge Davis, the trial judge in the leading South African case on social and economic rights, South Africa v Grootboom, is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. He is one of the principal speakers,.alongside Dr Petra Butler from Victoria Law School, in a session chaired by Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Human Rights Commissioner, on human rights issues and the courts.

Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek from Vanuatu will join the University's Andrew Erueti and commentators Chief Judge Joe Williams and Claire Charters of Victoria in the session on Customary Law and Adjudication. Chief Justice Lunabek has handed down a number of interesting decisions involving the adjudication of customary law, which he will discuss during his presentation.
Justices Bruce Robertson, NZ Law Commission, and Ronald Sackville, Federal Court of Australia, will speak on Access to Justice, chaired by Cheryl Gwyn.

In the final session, the eminent legal minds of the two most recently retired Presidents of the NZ Court of Appeal, Distinguished Fellows of the Victoria Law School Lord Cooke of Thorndon and Sir Ivor Richardson, will lead discussion on topical issues, with the new Supreme Court expected to be a focus.

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