Legal Transpositions

  • Dr Felicity Bell
  • Dr Niamh Kinchin
  • Associate Professor Marett Leiboff

How does the law take account of the knowledge produced outside its sphere?  The legal transpositions theme considers how law appropriates, interprets and transposes these knowledges from other disciplines and from the accidental forms of knowledge held by individuals and within cultures and societies, with consequences that matter for both law and justice.  Accordingly, this theme deals with disjunctures in cultural and legal meanings and how such disjunctures play out in legal processes.  It examines how the law’s  own particularistic logic, which may clash with the inner logic of other discourses, reconstitutes meanings significant for the social world beyond.

Law is created in and by a place and time; it is not discursively separate from its cultural origins.  Yet the production of law – its continuous iteration and reiteration across multiple sites – conceals this situatedness, giving a sense of timelessness and inevitability.  But what effect does this have on the operation of law and justice beyond its time and place, and through those involved in the creation of legal meaning?  Research in this theme seeks to explore, question and disrupt epistemological boundaries through considering the demarcation between law and not law.

Work by the scholars in this theme involves the re-reading and reinterpretation of texts and the rendering of knowledge in a legal setting, and its consequences, both now and in the past.  It includes the examination of decision-making in difference realms and according to different criteria, a some decisions of the social world become legal and others do not.  It also encompasses investigations within law itself, such as explorations into the nature of evidence and the formal indicia according to which opinion, fact and perception are adapted for use by the law; and the ways that law filters and interprets the discourse of other disciplines for its own purposes and through its own practices and logics.

Administrative Justice in the UN: Procedural Protections, Gaps and Proposals for Reform
Dr Niamh Kinchin

Niamh Kinchin is currently writing a book that considers what administrative justice might look at beyond domestic legal spaces.  When decisions made by public authorities affect a person’s rights and interests there is an expectation, in democratic societies at least, that the administrative processes used to make those decisions are carried out according to law and in a way that society considers ‘just’.  In short, we have come to expect administrative justice.  Within the domestic context, administrative justice commonly manifests as normative standards for administrative decision-making and review (both administrative and judicial).  More broadly, it may refer to accountability oversight mechanisms such as Ombudsmen, anti-corruption bodies and freedom of information legislation.  But what does administrative justice mean beyond the domestic context?  How are procedural rights to be protected and accountability to be ensured in the fluid, evolving and fragmented sphere of global governance?  The book, which will be published by Edwards Elgar Publishing UK, considers these questions within the context of the United Nations.

Niamh Kinchin, ‘UNHCR and the Quest for Accountability’ in Kristin Bergtora Sandvik and Katja Lindskov Jacobsen ( eds ) UNCHR and the Struggle for Accountability Technology, Law & Results-Based Management (2016) 28 (2) International Journal of Refugee Law 251 – 275.

Expert Evidence in Family Law Parenting Proceedings
Dr Felicity Bell

There is significant ongoing debate about the appropriate contribution that “expert” evidence should make to the resolution of disputes over the parenting of children. Felicity Bell’s research examines the ways that lawyers both utilise and challenge expert evidence in parenting proceedings through the deployment of ‘common sense’ or forms of practice knowledge. In this way, expertise is selectively transposed into legal discourse and decision-making.

Legal lives and legal interpretation
Associate Professor Marett Leiboff

Marett Leiboff has been working on a number of projects that investigate the consequence for legal interpretation based on the lives lived by lawyers – and how this affects legal outcomes, the readings made of case law, and the assumptions made about the law handed down to us over time.

Marett Leiboff ‘Theatricalising Law in Three, 1929 – 1939 (Brisbane)’ (2016) 20 Law Text Culture Special Issue Lives Lived with Law.

Marett Leiboff The Good Old Rule, the Catspaw and a Two-Headed Baby.In D.Carpi & M . Leiboff (Eds.), Fables of the Law:  Fairy Tales in a Legal Context.  De Gruyter Germany (2016) 187-208