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Mar 04

Justice Kirby at UNSW

Justice Kirby came and gave a speech at uni last night. Opening with a statement that he sincerely believed our law school was “one of the two great law schools in this country” (thereby immediately winning over the audience), he gave a very cordial, clear and often humourous address about his time on the High Court, focusing on the role of dissent in the legal system. Justice Kirby, of course, is well-known for his high rates of dissent (around 30% in recent years). Compare this with recently retired Justice L’Heureux-DubĂ© of the Canadian Supreme Court. She was known as the “Great Dissenter” in Canada, despite a mere dissent rate of just under 8%. Kirby noted the growing importance of international law and academic sources as a force influencing judges. He also treated us to a poetry recitation from Tagore’s Gitanjali. Quite an extraordinary gentleman.

Actually, touching again on the topic of Canada, there is a high representation of women there. Three justices, including the Chief Justice of its Supreme Court are women. The Governor-General is not only a woman, but a Chinese Canadian, born in Hong Kong. Hard to see any of that happening in Australia, given the dominance of men in the judicial arena. I wonder why that’s the case here?

  8:31pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Law  •   •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment