The Federation Press

Sir Owen Dixon’s Legacy

Overview

Sir Owen Dixon is the most renowned jurist Australia has ever produced. His lasting significance stems not only from a mastery of the technique of the common law, but from his involvement in many of the most important decisions in Australia’s legal history. During the course of his long tenure on the High Court of Australia, Dixon oversaw the development of virtually every branch of the law. This volume contributes to the understanding of Dixon’s jurisprudence, his judicial method and present-day significance. It ranges widely over the various branches of the law which were enriched by his contributions. The contributors include leading scholars and jurists from across Australia.

The essays which comprise the volume are arranged in three sections. The first takes up a number of fundamental questions going to the character of Dixon’s judicial philosophy. Space is devoted to an assessment of the nature and merits of ‘legalism’, as well as a study of Dixon’s views of the Privy Council. The second section is concerned with his contributions to public law, including his decisions in respect of the criminal law. The third section is concerned with his judgments in private law, including his influence on real property, equity, contract and tort.

Reviews

There can be little doubt of Sir Owen Dixon’s legacy upon the law in this country. As a celebrated jurist, his influence was vast and extended to virtually every branch of the law. His genius, accompanied by his long tenure on the High Court, permitted his contribution to some of Australia’s most significant decisions. The express purpose of this collection of essays is to contribute to a deeper appreciation and understanding of that legacy. In doing so, the contributors to this text do not focus only on Dixon’s influence, but add their own insights to the topics to which he made particular contribution. For example, the essays commence with a careful analysis of Dixon’s technique of common law reasoning of “strict and complete legalism”, including consideration of whether such a technique is indeed well-fitted to decision-making in the common law. Another essay analyses the enduring influence of the Dixon Court on key principles in the law of contract, despite the vast development in the common law and significant statutory encroachment in that area since the time of the Dixon Court. The text is an enjoyable and worthy read for all aspiring and practising lawyers. - Queensland Law Reporter – 11 October 2019 – [2019] 40 QLR

Table of Contents

Foreword by The Hon Susan Kiefel AC
Acknowledgments
Contributors
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes

Introduction
John Eldridge and Timothy Pilkington

PART I

1. Sir Owen Dixon and the Common Law Method
Ruth C A Higgins

2. Parker v The Queen and Dixon’s Diminishing Confidence in the Privy Council
Tanya Josev

PART II

3. Fashioning the Keystone of the Federal Structure: Dixon’s Influence on Section 109 of the Constitution
Mark Leeming

4. Sir Owen Dixon and the Concept of ‘Nationhood’ as a Source of Commonwealth Power
Peter Gerangelos

5. Protecting Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law: Dixon’s Chapter III Legacy
Matthew Stubbs

6. An Enduring Influence: Sir Owen Dixon’s Contribution to Administrative Law
Neil Williams and Claire Palmer

7. Sir Owen Dixon on Criminal Law and the Law of Evidence
Tim James-Matthews

PART III

8. Sir Owen Dixon’s Insight into the Law of Real Property
Arthur R Emmett

9. Advance Payments and the Border of Contract and Restitution: McDonald v Dennys Lascelles Revisited
Timothy Pilkington

10. Sir Owen Dixon and Yerkey v Jones: Considering the Feminist Implications of Strict and Complete Legalism
Radhika Chaudhri

11. Sir Owen Dixon and the Law of Contract
John Eldridge

12. Dixon’s Tort Judgments: Master Craftsman or Competent Technician?
Mark Lunney

13. Sir Owen Dixon’s Contribution to Australian Defamation Jurisprudence
David Rolph

Index

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