Justice Paul Desmond Finn: An Australian Dimension to the Cambridge Eminent Scholars Archive
9 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2018
Date Written: January 21, 2011
Judge Paul Finn of the Australian Federal Court, who is the 2010-2011 Goodhart Professor was interviewed for ESA in Dec 2010. Judge Finn’s erudite and thought-provoking interview has provided students of English law with a fascinating insight into the evolution and “state of play” of a Common Law jurisdiction with which they may be less-familiar. At the same time, his views on a range of topics may give a contemporary mirror in which Australian readers can view their country’s legal developments. Here, I summarise some of these topics. Included is his elevation to the bench from academia - hitherto an unusual event; Justice Finn’s views on the law as an applied discipline, and reminiscences of his career-long fascination with the principle of fiduciary principles in equity, and his views on the question of discretionary remedies in equity cases. There is also a commentary on his explanation of the importance of understanding the historical development of law in the states of Australia, and his enunciations on what he calls “state socialism”, as well as his explanation for the early abolition of the principle of Crown immunity. An important aspect are his views on Native Title in relation to the Torres Straits islander and the concept of terra nullius and other important cases with which he has been involved. Included is his revelation of highly relevant information collected by the Haddon expeditions in 1898-99, now housed in the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge. The summary finishes with some of Justice Finn’s observations on Australian government and the role of political parties vis a vis statutory boards, and some reminiscences on his membership of UNIDROIT in the 2000s and the issue of “good faith” in Australian contract law.
Keywords: Fiduciary Obligations, Contract, Native Title, Land Law, Torres Strait Islanders, Australian Judiciary, Unidroit, Contract, Freedom of Information
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