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Retired chief justice headlines golden Law Oration

The Victoria Law Foundation will kick off its 50th anniversary celebrations with former High Court chief justice Robert French AC delivering a special keynote address this week.

Robert French AC has been announced as the keynote speaker for the 2017 Law Oration hosted by the Victoria Law Foundation (VLF). The booked-out talk, focused on the rule of law, is the judge’s first speaking engagement since his retirement as High Court Chief Justice.

On behalf of the VLF, executive director Joh Kirby said the group was honoured to have the former chief justice launch its 50th anniversary event program.

“To have such a distinguished jurist present on the rule of law at this year’s Law Oration will be a major highlight of the Victoria Law Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebrations,” Ms Kirby said.

Since 1967, the VLF has undertaken wide-ranging work to improve the state’s legal system. More recently, it has focused its efforts on helping everyday people understand the law in Victoria and use it to improve their lives.

The VLF’s annual Law Oration is delivered by distinguished public figures and is “an opportunity for members of the public and the legal sector to gain insights into interesting and important legal issues,” the VLF said.

A Q&A session facilitated by VLF chair Hartley Hansen QC will follow this year’s oration.

Mr French will speak to the topic of ‘Rights and freedoms and the role of law’, to examine whether the laws produced by various levels of government are eroding the rights and freedoms that those laws intend to protect.

The retired judge was appointed to the High Court in 2008, after serving as a judge of the Federal Court in Western Australia since 1986. He retired from the bench last month, less than two months before his 70th birthday.

He served as president of the National Native Title Tribunal from 1994 to 1998 and was president of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law from 2001 to 2005. He was admitted in 1972 and practised as a barrister and solicitor in Western Australia until he was called to the bar in 1983.

Mr French’s booked-out address is to be held in the Supreme Court of Victoria’s Banco Court on Thursday 9 February.

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