Public interest or social impact litigation is utilised in many democracies as a vehicle for social, political and legal change. Public interest litigation has been successfully employed in the United States to pursue civil rights, as well as in Canada, India and South Africa to end practices of racial and gender discrimination and to ensure rights for Indigenous communities. Issues relating to the environment as well as pursuing the rights of consumers have also been the focus of public interest litigation. In the past few decades Australia has witnessed an increase in public interest cases with some significant success for plaintiffs.
What is unique about the Australian experience, when compared to the experiences of other jurisdictions like Canada, post-apartheid South Africa, the USA or India, is that Australia has no national Bill of Rights – the instrument that has often animated public interest litigation in those societies.
Despite the absence of an Australian Bill of rights, public interest litigation in Australian courts has, to some extent, reflected the legal victories that have transpired in constitutional democracies in the area of voting rights, the rights of refugees, and environmental issues.
On Thursday 8th August, 2019 La Trobe University School of Law, in collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Institute (UNSW Law) and Grata Fund, will host a conference entitled, Public Interest Litigation in Australia – A Comparative Perspective. The conference will bring together lawyers and advocates who are pursuing innovative litigation strategies, legal academics who write on related topics, judges who adjudicate these issues, and policy makers. The conference aims to consider some of the major public interest cases in Australia and to analyse them in comparative perspective. The conference will feature discussion of Australian cases – and reflection on the issues raised by them in light of comparable cases in other jurisdictions.
It is the hope of the conference organisers that the deliberations and the engagement of all participants will lead to ongoing collaborations.
Date And Time
Thursday, August 8, 2019
8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
La Trobe University School of Law
Bundoora, VIC 3086
This event Is co-hosted by La Trobe Law School, Racial Justice Project of the Impact Center for Law and Social Justice at New York Law School, Grata Fund and UNSW Law’s Australian Human Rights Institute.