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‘Open up’ to foreign teachings, lawyers urged

Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC has called for Australia’s legal profession to be both receptive and creative with the opportunities our international neighbours present.

user iconMelissa Coade 09 March 2017 The Bar
‘Open up’ to foreign teachings, lawyers urged
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Reflecting on Australia’s place in the world and how the local legal fraternity should respond, Marilyn Warren AC has told an audience in Perth that creativity is key.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria drew on a range of foreign policy perspectives to show that on a state level, Australia must get creative in its soft diplomacy strategy. Australia’s legal profession also has a role to play in this creative approach to foreign relations, she added.

“We may predict that priorities for Australia will be using its creativity to advance relationships with China, India and Indonesia, and using its influence to encourage to the greatest extent possible multilateralism and respect for the rule of law in the region,” Chief Justice Warren said. 


“For Australian courts and legal professionals, Australia’s engagement with the world leads to an increase in involvement in disputes and legal work of an international character. Opportunities will present themselves in international commercial arbitration, both overseas and at home,” she said.

In her remarks to the Law Summer School, hosted by the Law Society of Western Australia last month, the Chief Justice said gauging the current political state of the world was difficult.

She highlighted the current contrasting in political discourses on the world stage, using as an example the position UK Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump have taken on free trade.

“[When] President Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the US, he delivered a relatively brief inauguration speech with a clear message. Nationalism, protectionism and isolationism are back. Globalism is out, unless of course it promises to make America win again,” Chief Justice Warren said.

“Theresa May gave her Brexit speech just days before the President’s inauguration. In stark contrast to President Trump’s speech, the pervasive themes of Prime Minister May’s speech were ‘a global Britain’, free trade, diversity, ‘old friends and new allies’ and being outward-looking,” she said.

With a view to the emerging importance of China as an economic key to Pacific Asia, Chief Justice Warren discussed Australia’s opportunity to look to like-minded partners in Europe and Asia. Other nations, including India and Indonesia, are crucial to this end, she added.

Citing foreign policy academic Dr Michael Fullilove, the Chief Justice underscored the creativity Australia would need to wield to help hold together the global liberal order and protect institutions like the United Nations.

In the context of free trade, responsibility also flows to Australia’s courts and lawyers, the Chief Justice said. Australia’s legal community must continue to work to understand, share knowledge and learn from its international peers.

“Opening up to the world and absorbing what it has to offer will assist Australia’s courts and legal profession in their goal of providing, and being seen to provide, equal justice to foreign parties and to all members of Australia’s diverse community,” Chief Justice Warren said.

“There is much to take from foreign jurisdictions in the area of human rights law, and in general, approaches to dispute resolution. It is also important to reflect on how we are viewed from outside Australia,” she said.

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