Ep 1 – What is Law?

Short

Former Justice of the High Court Michael Kirby, Justice Susan Kenny, the Federal Court of Australia, and Justice Betty King, the Supreme Court of Victoria, talk about the nature of law and justice, its fluid and changing state.

Detail

Lizzie O’Shea outlines the two extreme ideas of the law. On one hand law can reflect the morals of the day and provide justice by adapting to circumstances. On the other hand justice is better served by applying the letter of the law to everyone equally, independent of the consequences or the situation. She reveals that most lawyers find a place somewhere between these two extreme ideas.

We meet some of Australia’s top judges who talk about what they think about the law and justice.

Former Justice of the High Court Michael Kirby talks about how the law changes over time to reflect changes in community attitudes. He also discusses the independence of judges, who must determine for themselves what their judgement will be.

Justice Susan Kenny from the Federal Court of Australia explains how parliaments create laws, and judges are bound by those written laws. She points out that because judges are human, personal values will inevitably have a small influence on their more complex judgements.

Justice Betty King from the Supreme Court of Victoria talks about how each crime is individual, and so too must be the judgement.

Lizzie O’Shea wraps up by reminding us that law is in fact fluid and constantly changing. It can be shaped by individuals and by changes in community attitudes.

Curriculum Areas

National
Years 9/10 civics and citizenship education curriculum in relation to the theme of Law and Citizens.

Years 11/12 Legal Studies
Victoria
Unit 1: Criminal law in action, Area of study 1, Law in society.

NSW
Preliminary course: Part I: The legal system, 1. Basic legal concepts And Part III: Law in practice

SA
Stage 1 – Topic 1: Law and Society, What are the functions of law? And Topic 9: Relationships and the Law, Should same-sex marriage be legally recognised?
Stage 2 – Topic 1: The Australian Legal System, Functions of Law

Queensland
Core area of study: The legal system, How and why does the law change?

ACT
Justice

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