find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Lawyers urged to keep treaty obligations in mind

Lawyers urged to keep treaty obligations in mind

Australian lawyers should approach legal problem-solving with deference to the nation’s international treaty obligations, the Commonwealth solicitor-general has said.

The importance of Australia’s treaty obligations in solving everyday legal problems has been underscored by Commonwealth Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson SC.

Speaking at the launch of a seminar series for international negotiation and dispute resolution in Sydney, Mr Gleeson put the case that Australia’s treaty agreements – while often left to the expertise of diplomats –were of critical importance to legal problem-solving.

“Our courts are increasingly being called upon to interpret and apply what present as domestic statutes but which in truth are implementation of international treaties,” Mr Gleeson said.

The solicitor-general highlighted the limited opportunities law school offered to learn about the role of treaties in Australia’s legal order. He went on to suggest it was essential knowledge as the nation stood at the “cusp of the true internationalisation of Australian law”.

“Since World War II, there have been a further 2,232 original or amending treaties that [Australia] has entered, or an average of 31.8 a year. That’s a vast volume of treaty-making and I venture to suggest that in the law school curricula, that doesn’t always feature very closely,” Mr Gleeson said.

According to the solicitor-general, the contextual understanding of Australia’s international treaty obligations was important because of the breath of subjects covered – including international commerce, the environment, public health and human rights. He added that because Australian law has been ever-illuminated by the "spirit of internationalisation", lawyers must know the key principles of treaty interpretation and application.

"The interpretation of a domestic statute may take one to the conventional treaty, and once one has gone that far, one may need to apply the special rules of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties where a body of material can be looked at in interpretation, including state practice post the treaty or a liberal use of preparatory works for the treaty," Mr Gleeson explained.

“One can see that in solving Australian legal cases, in presenting them as counsel and even the judges deciding them, one increasingly needs a familiarity with the treaties and also with the international law and principles for interpretation of them,” he said.

Tracking case law from the early days of Australian federation to contemporary issues like tobacco plain packaging, Mr Gleeson went on to describe the internationalisation of Australian law in three “great waves”. His address shared insights about the increasing and unique challenges modern lawyers face where multiple legal norms co-exist.

The International Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Series is an initiative of the NSW Young Lawyers International Law Committee. It is conducted in partnership with the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration and the Australian Disputes Centre. The five-part series will examine international commercial dispute resolution and how the practice differs from domestic disputes.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Lawyers urged to keep treaty obligations in mind
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
microphone
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
protest
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Blocked
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...