Recently I have started reading books and web sites about the Australian Legal system. Why on earth are you doing this Charles? You have NEVER been interested in Law!
It is true. When I was at school I liked science and mathematics and disliked wordy subjects like English. I preferred the world of certainy, numbers, logic and scientific method. Some of my friends studied law at Sydney University and the College of Law but I didn’t envry all the reading they had to do. Besides, I didn’t have marks to do a law course.
So why the interest now? The only dealings I have had with the “Law” since my school days can be summarised as follows:
Road Related. Being stopped by the police for exceeding the speed limit (twice) and using a transit lane in peak hour on the Gladesville bridge. In my gung ho twenties, the Law could only mean the Police.
Jury Duty. I have been called up to do Jury Duty on several occasions but I had to excuse myself with Statutory Declarations because I was travelling for business.
Conveyancing. Purchasing a home unit and a house required the services of a solicitor for the necessary documents for purchasing a property. The solicitor used old-world legalese in his writing and reminded me of a character from a Charles Dickens novel.
Will. My first will was prepared by my school friend Philip Bell who was then working at a law firm in Parramatta.
Canberra. I have visited Canberra many times and visited the High Court building, Old Parliament House (well, it was the only Parliament house for many decades) and the new Parliament House. I admired the architecture but not really sure of how the political system worked in detail.
Law Society of NSW. When working for a software company in 1995, one of our customers was the Law Society of NSW. I visited their offices several time as we converted an application (for registration of solicitors) to use our database software.
My interest in Law was sparked when I needed to get our wills updated and enduring Powers of Attorney. Some people say you can do this yourself … it is just a document. I doubted this and engaged the services of a local solicitor to draw up the documents.
I wanted to know more so started using Google to search for Acts of Parliament relating to Probate. But first I needed to understand the big picture so I borrowed “Understanding Law” (7th Edition) by Chisholm and Nettheim.
The most interesting insight was how Australian Law started as a clone of English Law then updated through Parliament. I also learnt about the two main origins of law – legislation (Commonwealth and State) and the court system. The underlying source of authority for the system is the Australian Constitution so I have gone so far as reading every word of the Constitution.
When I was at school the subject of Legal Studies didn’t exist, but lately I have read two more library books for this HSC subject. This has given me further perspective on such areas as Law and the Environment, Native Title and the Mabo ruling, Criminal Law and Evidence.
At my point in reading, I am now reading and learning more about English legal history, the colonisation of Australia, Federation and the Australian Constitution, How Federal and State Parliament works, the court hierarchy – High Court, Supreme Court, District and Local Courts. Last week I bought an 800 page 2nd hand Australian Business Law text book for $10 so that will keep me busy.
As well as libraries, I have found many useful web sites were Commonwealth and State Law can be accessed, Law Reports as well as the web sites for the various courts and law making bodies. More about these in later blog articles.
Law is wordy but I don’t envy the reading load of Law students.
Law has logic and reasoning but has a lot of fuzzy edges to keep lawyers and courts busy.
Law affects so many parts of our daily lives: Driving, working, buying, selling, eating, living and dying.
Law is everywhere.