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Legal eagles fly in for birthday party
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Legal eagles fly in for birthday party

IT HAS SEEN work ranging from the modernisation of old laws to gene patenting and the protection of human genetic information, and this month it celebrated its long role as a leading legal…

IT HAS SEEN work ranging from the modernisation of old laws to gene patenting and the protection of human genetic information, and this month it celebrated its long role as a leading legal institution.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) celebrated its 30th birthday earlier this month with a one-day symposium entitled The Promise of Law Reform, and a gala dinner in Sydney.

Attendees included Sir Anthony Mason, Justice Ron Sackville, Senator Marise Payne, former NSW Attorney-General John Hannaford and New Zealand law reform commission chair Justice Bruce Robertson.

Touting the work the ALRC has undertaken over the past 30 years, ALRC president David Weisbrot said it had initiated community debate and provided advice to government on issues including drink driving, Aboriginal customary laws, human tissues transplants, maritime law, sentencing, and protecting classified and security sensitive information.

As well, the ALRC worked with leading scientists and policy makers to identify innovative ways to the protect human genetic information.

Weisbrot said this work had broken new ground internationally. “Dr Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, praised the ALRC’s work on human genetic information as ‘truly phenomenal… placing Australia ahead of what the rest of the world is doing’.

“Given the range and complexity of the ALRC’s inquiries, it is remarkable that 84 per cent of our reports have been substantially or partially implemented. This success has no doubt been assisted by the fact that we are careful to provide advice that is practical,” he said.

The continued growth in electronic communications, rapid developments in science and technology, demographic changes and the evolution of the global economy will provide new challenges for the ALRC over the next 30 years, Weisbrot said.

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