Frozen Chooks Revisited: The Challenge of Changing Law/s
The University of Sydney Law School
August, 20 2008
CHANGING LAW: RIGHTS, REGULATION AND RECONCILIATION, Rosemary Hunter, Mary Keane, eds., pp. 49-76, Ashgate Publishing: Aldershot, 2005
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/94
This chapter reflects critically on a range of law reform processes that have taken place in Australia. While law reform is generally seen as inherently progressive, as part of a progress narrative, the chapter questions some of these assumptions by focusing on a number of different law reform processes, ranging from work done by permanent statutory law reform agencies to ad hoc reviews. Three particular examples are used as case studies: these are reforms to sexual assault or rape laws in New South Wales, 'family law reform', and the 2002 review into public liability/negligence: Australia's tort reform 'crisis'.
Two common themes identified are the persistence and power of myths and stereotypes and reliance on anecdotal information in place of evidence-based research. I suggest that law reform should be driven more by social context, relationships and themes rather than simply working from pre-existing legal categories. A related concern is how to ensure participation in law reform processes by the people most affected by the laws in question.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: law reform, family law, sexual assault law, tort law, feminist jurisprudence, gender, legal method, empirical research
JEL Classification: K10, K13, K14, K30, K40
Date posted: August 22, 2008