Rights and Freedoms and the Rule of Law - Law Oration 2017

February 7th 2017

In his first speaking engagement since retiring as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, The Honourable Robert French AC will present on the topic, 'Rights and Freedoms and the Rule of Law' when he delivers the 2017 Victoria Law Foundation Law Oration on Thursday 9 February.

While there is a general belief in the rule of law as a guarantor of our rights and freedoms, this year’s Law Oration topic will explore whether the many laws being produced by various levels of government are eroding the very rights and freedoms they are supposed to protect.

The Victoria Law Foundation Executive Director Joh Kirby said the foundation, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, was honoured that the former Chief Justice would make his first official speaking appearance since he retired at the Law Oration.

“To have such a distinguished jurist present on the rule of law at this year’s Law Oration will be a major highlight of the Victoria Law Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebrations,” Ms Kirby said.

“Since 1967, the foundation has worked to improve Victoria’s legal system: initially as a supporter of legal sector education and research, and more recently by helping Victorians to understand the law and use it to improve their lives.”

The Law Oration is an annual event presented by distinguished public figures that provides an opportunity for members of the public and the legal sector to gain insights into interesting and important legal issues.

This year’s Law Oration will be followed by a short question and answer session to be facilitated by Victoria Law Foundation Chair, The Honourable Hartley Hansen QC.

Ms Kirby said that while all tickets to the Law Oration had been booked, the event would be filmed and members of the public and the legal profession could view the Oration online as of Friday 10 February 2017.

About The Honourable Robert French AC

Robert Shenton French was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia on 1 September 2008. At the time of his appointment he was a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, having been appointed to that office in November 1986.

He is a graduate of the University of Western Australia in science and law. He was admitted in 1972 and practised as a barrister and solicitor in Western Australia until 1983 when he went to the Independent Bar. He was an associate member of the Trade Practices Commission (now the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) from 1983 to 1986 and Chancellor of Edith Cowen University from 1991 to 1996.

From 1994 to 1998 he was President of the National Native Title Tribunal. At the time of his appointment he was an additional member of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and a member of the Supreme Court of Fiji. He was also a Deputy President of the Australian Competition Tribunal and a part time member of the Australian Law Reform Commission. From 2001 to January 2005 he was President of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law. In 2010, he was made a Companion in the Order of Australia and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He is Patron of the Australian Academy of Law and an Honorary Life Member of the Australasian Law Teachers Association.

The Honourable Robert French retired as Chief Justice on 29 January 2017.

Media are invited to attend. For details contact: Mick Paskos on 0412 201 044.

Advance copies of the speech are not available.

Event details

When: Thursday 9 February 2017, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

Doors open 5:30 pm. Please allow time to pass through security.

Where: Banco Court, Supreme Court of Victoria, 210 William Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

NB: All tickets to the 2017 Law Oration have been allocated. A video of the Oration will be available for viewing from Friday 10 February 2017.