10 April 2010

Still going strong

It's the 300th anniversary of the Statute of Anne, the dropsical friend of Sarah Churchill and mother of UK Copyright -
An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned.

Whereas printers, booksellers, and other persons, have of late frequently taken the liberty of printing, reprinting, and publishing, or causing to be printed, reprinted, and published books, and other writings, without the consent of the authors or proprietors of such books and writings, to their very great detriment, and too often to the Ruin of them and their families: for preventing therefore such practices for the future, and for the encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books; May it please Your Majesty, that it may be enacted, and be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That from and after the Tenth Day of April, One thousand seven hundred and ten, the author of any book or books already printed, who hath not transferred to any other the copy or copies of such book or books, share or shares thereof, or the bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, or other person or persons, who hath or have purchased or acquired the copy or copies of any book or books, in order to print or reprint the same, shall have the sole right and liberty of printing such book and books for the term of One and twenty Years, to commence from the said Tenth Day of April, and no longer; and that the author of any book or books already composed and not printed and published, or that shall hereafter be composed, and his assignee, or assigns, shall have the sole liberty of printing and reprinting such book and books for the term of fourteen years, to commence from the day of the first publishing the same, and no longer; And that if any other bookseller, printer, or other person whatsoever, from and after the Tenth Day of April, One thousand seven hundred and ten, within the times granted and limited by this Act, as aforesaid, shall print, reprint, or import, or cause to be printed, reprinted, or imported any such book or books, without the consent of the proprietor or proprietors thereof first had and obtained in writing, signed in the presence of two or more credible witnesses; or knowing the same to be so printed or reprinted, without the consent of the proprietors, shall sell, publish, or expose to sale, or cause to be sold, published, or exposed to sale, any such book or books, without such consent first had and obtained, as aforesaid, Then such offender or offenders shall forfeit such book or books, and all and every sheet or sheets, being part of such book or books, to the proprietor or proprietors of the copy thereof, who shall forthwith damask and make waste-paper of them:

And further, That every such offender or offenders, shall forfeit One Penny for every sheet which shall be found in his, her, or their custody, either printed or printing, published or exposed to sale, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this Act, the one moiety thereof to the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and the other moiety thereof to any person or persons that shall Sue for the same, to be recovered in any of Her Majesty's Courts of Record at Westminster, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in which no wager of law, essoign, privilege, or protection, or more than one imparlance, shall be allowed.

And whereas many persons may through ignorance offend against this Act, unless some provision be made whereby the property in every such book, as is intended by this Act to be secured to the proprietor or proprietors thereof, may be ascertained, as likewise the consent of such proprietor or proprietors for the printing or reprinting of such book or books may from time to time be known; Be it therefore further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that nothing in this Act contained shall be construed to extend to subject any bookseller, printer, or other person whatsoever, to the forfeitures or penalties therein mentioned, for or by reason of the printing or reprinting of any book or books without such consent, as aforesaid, unless the title to the copy of such book or books hereafter published shall, before such publication be entered, in the Register-book of the Company of Stationers, in such manner as hath been usual, which Register-book shall at all times be kept at the Hall of the said Company, and unless such consent of the proprietor or proprietors be in like manner entered, as aforesaid, for every of which several entries, Six Pence shall be paid, and no more; which said Register-Book may, at all reasonable and Convenient times, be resorted to, and Inspected by any bookseller, printer, or other person, for the purposes before mentioned, without any Fee or reward; and the Clerk of the said Company of Stationers, shall, when and as often as thereunto required, give a certificate under his hand of such entry or entries, and for every such certificate, may take a fee not exceeding Six Pence.

Provided nevertheless, That if the Clerk of the said Company of Stationers, for the time being shall Refuse or Neglect to Register, or make such Entry or Entries, or to give such Certificate, being thereunto Required by the Author or Proprietor of such Copy or Copies, in the Presence of Two or more Credible Witnesses, That then such Person and Persons so refusing, Notice being first duly given of such Refusal, by an Advertisement in the Gazette, shall have the like Benefit, as if such Entry or Entries, Certificate or Certificates had been duly made and given; and that the Clerks so refusing, shall, for any such Offence, Forfeit to the Proprietor of such Copy or Copies the Sum of Twenty Pounds, to be Recovered in any of Her Majesty's Courts of Record at Westminster, by Action of Debt, Bill, Plaint, or Information, in which no Wager of Law, Essoign, Privilege or Protection, or more than one Imparlance shall be allowed.

Provided nevertheless, and it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, shall, after the said Five and twentieth Day of March, One thousand seven hundred and ten, set a price upon, or sell or expose to sale, any book or books at such a price or rate as shall be Conceived by any person or persons to be High and Unreasonable; It shall and may be Lawful for any person or persons to make Complaint thereof to the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury for the time being; the Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Great Britain for the time being; the Lord Bishop of London for the time being; the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, the Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer, for the time being; the Vice-Chancellors of the Two Universities for the time being, in that part of Great Britain called England; the Lord President of the Sessions for the time being; the Lord Justice General for the time being; the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer for the time being; the Rector of the College of Edinburgh for the time being, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland; who, or any one of them, shall and have hereby full power and authority from time to time, to send for, summon, or call before him or them such bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, and to examine and enquire of the reason of the dearness and inhauncement of the price or value of such book or books by him or them so sold or exposed to sale; and if upon such enquiry and examination it shall be found, that the price of such book or books is inhaunced, or any wise too high or unreasonable, Then and in such case, the said Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper, Bishop of London, two Chief Justices, Chief Baron, Vice-Chancellors of the Universities, in that part of Great Britain called England, and the said Lord President of the Sessions, Lord Justice General, Lord Chief Baron, and Rector of the College of Edinburgh, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, or any one or more of them, so enquiring and examining, have hereby full power and authority to reform and redress the same, and to limit and settle the price of every such printed book and books, from time to time, according to the best of their judgements, and as to them shall seem just and reasonable; and in case of alteration of the rate or price from what was set or demanded by such bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, to award and order such bookseller and booksellers, printer and printers, to pay all the costs and charges that the person or persons so Complaining shall be put unto, by reason of such complaint, and of the causing such rate or price to be so limited and settled; all which shall be done by the said Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper, Bishop of London, two Chief Justices, Chief Baron, Vice Chancellors of the Two Universities, in that part of Great Britain called England, and the said Lord President of the Sessions, Lord Justice General, Lord Chief Baron, and Rector of the College of Edinburgh, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, or any one of them, by writing under their hands and seals, and thereof public notice shall be forthwith given by the said bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, by an advertisement in the Gazette; and if any bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, shall, after such settlement made of the said rate and price, sell, or expose to sale any book or books, at a higher or greater price than what shall have been so Limited and settled, as aforesaid, then and in every such case such bookseller and booksellers, printer and printers, shall forfeit the sum of Five Pounds for every such book so by him, her, or them Sold or exposed to sale; one moiety thereof to the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and the other moiety to any person or persons that shall sue for the same, to be recovered, with costs of muit, in any of Her Majesty's Courts of Record at Westminster, by action of debt, bill, plaint or information, in which no wager of law, essoign, privilege or protection, or more than one imparlance, shall be allowed.

Provided always, and it is hereby enacted, That nine copies of each book or books, upon the best paper, that from and after the said Tenth Day of April, One thousand seven hundred and ten, shall be printed and published, as aforesaid, or reprinted and published with additions, shall, by the printer and printers thereof, be delivered to the warehouse-keeper of the said Company of Stationers for the time being, at the Hall of the said Company, before such publication made, for the use of the Royal Library, the Libraries of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Libraries of the Four Universities in Scotland, the Library of Sion College in London, and the Library commonly called the Library belonging to the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh respectively; which said warehouse-keeper, is hereby required, within Ten Days after Demand by the Keepers of the respective Libraries, or any person or persons by them or any of them authorised to demand the said copy, to deliver the same, for the use of the aforesaid Libraries; and if any proprietor, bookseller or printer, or the said warehouse-keeper of the said Company of Stationers, shall not observe the direction of this Act therein, that then he and they, so making default in not delivering the said printed copies, as aforesaid, shall forfeit, besides the value of the said printed copies, the sum of Five Pounds for every copy not so delivered, as also the value of the said printed copy not so delivered, the same to be recovered by the Queen's Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and by the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of any of the said universities, and by the President and Fellows of Sion College, and the said Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh, with their full costs respectively.

Provided always, and be it further enacted, that if any person or persons incur the penalties contained in this Act, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, they shall be recoverable by any action before the Court of Session there.

Provided, That nothing in this Act contained do extend, or shall be construed to extend, to prohibit the importation, vending, or selling of any books in Greek, Latin, or any other foreign language printed beyond the Seas; any thing in this Act contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any action or suit shall be commenced or brought against any person or persons whatsoever, for doing or causing to be done any thing in pursuance of this Act, the defendants in such action may plead the general issue, and give the special matter in evidence; and if upon such Action a verdict be given for the Defendant, or the plaintiff become Nonsuited, or Discontinue his action, then the defendant shall have and recover his full costs, for which he shall have the same Remedy as a defendant in any case by Law hath.

Provided, That nothing in this Act contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, either to prejudice or confirm any right that the said universities, or any of them, or any person or persons have, or claim to have, to the printing or reprinting any book or copy already printed, or hereafter to be printed.

Provided nevertheless, that all actions, suits, bills, indictments, or informations for any offence that shall be committed against this Act, shall be brought, sued, and commenced within three months next after such offence committed, or else the same shall be void and of none effect.

Provided always, that after the expiration of the said term of fourteen years, the sole right of printing or disposing of copies shall return to the authors thereof, if they are then living, for another term of fourteen years.

Postgrad Heaven

From a review of After Lives: A Guide to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory (Oxford: Oxford Uni Press 2010) by John Casey -
Many writers on heaven, from Philo of Alexandria onwards, are inclined to stress the intellectual delights of heaven. Philo seems to think that all the saved will be able to indulge in philosophy seminars, making heaven a kind of Oxford graduate college, like All Souls. My own favourite is the image of some medieval rabbis, who saw heaven as a vast, quiet, peaceful library, where books jumped down from the shelves when you nodded to them, and soft-footed librarians dispersed cooling mint drinks. There is a comparable vision of a scholarly heaven in the writings of Isaac Watts, though his paradise is more like the Royal Society, with the stress on scientific discoveries.
Perhaps skip the mint drinks for a decent pot of tea, an amiable dog or goat or two, and the occasional interruption with news that the UC Debating Team - currently returning from exploits at the Easters comp in Melbourne - has had a good time.

Meanwhile in purgatory I'm reading a 25 page paper by Christoph Kletzer on 'The Role and Reception of the Work of Hans Kelsen in the United Kingdom', centred on HK's reception by Raz and Hart.

Kletzer comments that -
The one thing which puzzled me most when I first entered the British1 academic environment was the role played by Hans Kelsen: on the one hand Kelsen was held in the highest esteem, yet at the same time his work was very little known — apart from some loose commonplaces about the basic norm and the hierarchical structure of the law that is. On the one hand, most scholars agreed that Kelsen was the most profound legal thinker of the 20th century, yet at the same time I came against a firm consensus that Kelsen was so obviously wrong, that not much effort was needed to refute him. A few examples are regularly considered to suffice to show the absurdity of Kelsen's position. Kelsen was praised for the breath of his learning, yet he has had only a very superficial and limited impact on British legal thinking. His relevance is confined to legal philosophy understood in a very narrow sense. All of this seemed even more striking when considering the ease and depth with which fellow Austrian modernist thinkers like, say, Wittgenstein, Hayek or Popper, have been received in the United Kingdom.

To be sure, the British indecisiveness about the qualities of Kelsen’s work cannot be explained entirely by reference to this work alone. Given the importance of Kelsen for Continental legal thought, we can only hope to understand the half-hearted reception of Kelsen in the United Kingdom if we look into the nature of British jurisprudence and legal science.

What is it, then, about British legal thought that has made the reception of Kelsen so troublesome? I think two factors are involved: one is the pronounced anti-theoretical slant of British jurisprudence and the other is the effect the re-invention of jurisprudence by Hart has had on this antiintellectual jurisprudential environment. Both factors worked against Kelsen. ...

There is a sense in which despite more than fifty years of debates, the reception of the work of Hans Kelsen in the United Kingdom has not yet begun. Whereas in other countries the influence of Kelsen may already be beyond its peak, in the United Kingdom the time for Kelsen is still ripe. Whereas the British Kelsen scholarship of the past eighty years might have missed precisely what is interesting and distinctive about Kelsen’s work, this scholarship has the virtue of at least having inscribed Kelsen into the margins of the re-invention of a tradition of jurisprudential learning which is still dominating the greater part of the English-speaking world. This allows reference to Kelsen without having to leave this tradition and will also facilitate a successive rectification of the image of the Pure Theory of Law in the United Kingdom and, more generally, in the English-speaking world.
He argues that -
why did Hart choose Austin and not Kelsen? Would we not require from any pretender to the throne of jurisprudence to take head on not some fusty writer of the early 19th century, but the ruling king of the discipline? Did he not make it very easy for himself by picking an author considered antiquated and a bit naive rather than someone contemporary and philosophically sophisticated like Kelsen?

Well, I guess the answer has to be ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Academically, a sincere and thorough engagement with Kelsen could have only made the Concept of Law a better, that is less limited book.

One can indeed detect something of a hermetic naivety in the way Hart frames the problem the Concept of Law, i.e. in the untested presuppositions, in its reliance on common sense in its methodological innocence. A fuller appreciation of the problems Kelsen engages with in his Pure Theory of law would certainly have helped here. Pedagogically and in terms of impact, however, an engagement with Kelsen might very well have turned the Concept of Law into a monster of an enterprise which no-one would had ever read.

08 April 2010

Gimme the meat

Reading a cogent post by Derridian, alongside M Anne Brown's Human Rights and the Borders of Suffering: The Promotion of Human Rights in International Politics (Manchester: Manchester Uni Press 2009) and Paul Halliday's exemplary Habeas Corpus - From England to Empire (Cambridge: Harvard Uni Press 2010).

07 April 2010

Sadly unimaginative

Leon Trotsky, patron saint of socialist romantics, condemned Tsar Nicholas II as profoundly unimaginative rather than evil. In considering the latest brouhaha over claims of systemic cover-ups or indifference among senior Roman Catholic clergy in relation to proven abuse of minors it is tempting to conclude that the institutions have been unimaginative, unable to think outside traditional responses - particularly shuffling miscreants from parish to parish - in responding to problems that involved real human suffering.

A news item from the ABC indicates that some senior personnel in the Church have missed the point. The item states that -
The child sex abuse crimes of individual priests are not the fault of the Roman Catholic Church as a whole, a top Vatican cardinal said overnight, lamenting what he called "unfair attacks".

"Christians feel rightly hurt when there is an attempt to embroil them in the serious and painful matters of some priests, transforming individual faults and responsibilities into collective ones", said Angelo Sodano, the dean of the Vatican's College of Cardinals.

"Now the accusation of paedophilia is being brandished against the Church", Cardinal Sodano said in an interview with Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

He added: "In the face of these unfair attacks we are being told that our strategy is wrong, that we should react differently. The Church has its own style... the only strategy that we have comes from the Gospel".

Also Tuesday, Vatican Radio warned of what it called an "anti-Catholic media campaign of hatred".
The paedophilia of some clergy is arguably not the fault of the Church or of all Roman Catholics. (Not all Christians, with apologies to Cardinal Sodano, are members of that belief system and thus not all will necessarily share his deep sorrow at "an attempt to embroil them in the serious and painful matters of some priests".)

However, it is clear from both internal and external studies, such as those concerning abuses in Ireland, that senior personnel have on occasion failed to deal effectively with serial predators. The apparent inability to acknowledge that failure is at best unseemly, an unseemliness exacerbated by claims of persecution and recourse to comparisons with anti-semitic persecution.

The latter is particularly egregious considering the Vatican's failure - again, arguably a failure of imagination or the inhumanity consequential on thinking sub specie aeternitatis - to vigorously (or merely explicitly and recurrently) condemn both the Holocaust and the active involvement of individual Roman Catholics (including clergy in Southern Europe) in the racially-based industrial slaughter of millions of people.

The same lack of imagination is apparent in Easter rhetoric by Anthony Fisher OP, DD, BA (Hons), LLB, BTheol (Hons), DPhil, Bishop of Parramatta, who - presumably informed by possession of an exclusive truth unavailable to the godless - informed the faithful that the effects of atheism are devastating and that people falsely believe they can build a better life without believing in God. The evidence for that claim?
Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating: Nazism, Stalinism, mass murder, abortion and broken relationships - all promoted by state-imposed atheism.
Let us not, of course, mention a millennium or two of nastiness imposed by believers on other believers and pass over the fast-tracking of canonisation of Pius XII.

Vatican-bashing is indeed unfair but unsurprising in the face of resolute denial and claims of victimisation. Bishop Fisher and Cardinal Sodano would do well to recall the comment in the Eire report -
The Dublin Archdiocese's pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The Archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the State. ...

The authorities in the Archdiocese of Dublin and the religious orders who were dealing with complaints of child sexual abuse were all very well educated people. Many had qualifications in canon law and quite a few also had qualifications in civil law. This makes their claims of ignorance very difficult to accept. Child sexual abuse did not start in the 20th century. Since time immemorial it has been a "delict" under canon law, a sin in ordinary religious terms and a crime in the law of the State. Ignorance of the law is not a defence under the law of the State. It is difficult for the Commission to accept that ignorance of either the canon law or the civil law can be a defence for officials of the Church. ...

In addition to their clerical education, many of those in authority in the Archdiocese had civil law degrees or occupied prestigious appointments in third level education. Monsignor Sheehy, Bishop O'Mahony and Bishop Raymond Field were qualified barristers. Bishop Kavanagh was Professor of Social Science in University College Dublin where both Archbishop Ryan and Archbishop Connell held high ranking academic posts. Despite their participation in civil society, it was not until late 1995 that officials of the Archdiocese first began to notify the civil authorities of complaints of clerical child sexual abuse.
All very sad. Time to say sorry in a meaningful way or not complain while critics score a few direct hits.

Not so sunny state

I'm rereading 'Real Constitutional Reform after Fitzgerald: Still Waiting for Godot' by Scott Prasser & Nicholas Aroney in 18(3) Griffith Law Review (2009) 596-620 [here] after going through The Fitzgerald Legacy: Reforming Public Life in Australia and Beyond (Bowen Hills: Australian Academic Press 2010) edited by Colleen Lewis, Janet Ransley & Ross Homel.

Prasser & Aroney comment that -
The Fitzgerald Inquiry, although initially focused upon matters such as maladministration and corruption, placed significant emphasis on the reform of Queenslandʼs political and public administration system as a whole. It is therefore in relation to its practical impact within the context of that system that the Fitzgerald Report ought to be assesses. However, despite widespread support for the reportʼs recommendations, recent events in Queensland concerning such matters as corruption, maladministration, lobbying, cronyism and secrecy suggest that the report has failed to deliver on its most basic objectives. This article argues that although the Fitzgerald Report drew attention to and sought to address systemic problems of various kinds, it has largely failed in its intentions because the changes that it proposed could not be sustained in the context of Queenslandʼs existing constitutional framework and particular system of Westminster democracy, especially its high level of executive domination operating in the context of a unicameral parliament. The fact that so many of the Fitzgerald reforms were left to be sorted out by post-commission agencies working in such an environment means real reform has failed to flourish. Consequently, the Fitzgerald Report has met the same fate as so many other public inquiries into corruption in Australia, resulting in only minimal change to the way government is actually conducted. While as a result of the Fitzgerald Inquiry there has been widespread institutional restructuring in Queensland, the way of doing business in that state has hardly changed at all.
The Lewis, Ransley & Homel volume includes chapters by Colleen Lewis on 'Depoliticising Policing: Reviewing and Registering Police Reforms', Julianne Schultz on 'Exploring the Limits: Media as Watchdog in Queensland', Jacqueline Drew & Tim Prenzler on 'The Evolution of Human Resource Management in Policing', Jenny Fleming on 'Changing the Approach: Structural Reform in the Queensland Police Force', David Solomon on 'Freedom of Information (FoI) in Queensland and its Fitzgerald Origins', Noel Preston on 'The Renewal of Parliament: A Fitzgerald Legacy?' and Kerry Wimshurst on 'The Reformative Powers of Higher Education for Policing?'.

Gendered Violence Report

The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation has released the 80 page Changing Cultures, Changing Attitudes report [PDF] of the National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence against Women.

The report was commissioned by the Commonwealth Government in February last year. The Foundation's research partners included the Australian Institute of Criminology and The Social Research Centre. The expectation was that the survey would provide a benchmark for identifying changing attitudes and guide the development of "interventions that can build cultures of non-violence and value equal and respectful relationships between men and women".

The Survey drew on telephone interviews with over 10,000 people across Australia about their attitudes towards violence against women, with a minimum of 1,000 interviews conducted in each state/territory; telephone interviews with an additional 2,500 first and second generation members of the Italian, Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian communities; and face-to-face interviews with 400 Indigenous Australians in nine metropolitan and regional locations across Australia. The results were compared with an equivalent 1995 national survey.

The report's major findings are that most people have "a broad understanding of domestic and sexual violence, and its impacts, and do not condone it", with community perceptions of what constitutes domestic violence broadening significantly since 1995. People are now more likely to understand that domestic violence can take various forms, including physical and sexual assault, threats of harm to family members, and psychological, verbal and economic abuse. Overall non-physical behaviours (such as emotional, psychological, verbal and economic abuse) were less likely to be considered domestic violence than physical types of abuse. 25% of respondents thus did not believe that 'controlling a partner by denying them money' was a form of domestic violence.

The majority of respondents considered violence against women to be a serious issue. Stalking was considered by 69% of respondents to be 'very serious' violent behaviour. However there was a decline in the proportion of people who recognise 'slapping or pushing a partner to cause harm or fear' as 'very serious' (53% in 2009 compared with 64% in 1995).

Most respondents across all samples believed that domestic violence and forced sex by an intimate partner are unlawful acts. Men in the general community were less likely than their female counterparts to view domestic violence as a crime.

Community understanding of violence against women with disabilities was very poor.

22% of respondents believe that domestic violence is perpetrated equally by both men and women.

The report notes that "the vast majority of people surveyed did not believe that any physical force against a current or former wife, partner or girlfriend could be justified under any circumstances", although 4% of the general community agree that physical force is justifiable when a partner "admits to having sex with another man". Some respondents in the general community were prepared to excuse physical and sexual violence against women if it results from people 'getting so angry that they temporarily lose control' (18%) and/or if the violent person 'truly regrets' what was done (22%). A similar diminishing of perpetrator responsibility for sexual violence was evident, with 34% of respondents agreeing that rape occurs because of men 'not being able to control their need for sex'.

The report comments that since 1995 there has been a decrease in the number of respondents apportioning blame to a victim of sexual assault, with 13% supporting the notion that 'women often say no when they mean yes' and 5% stating that 'women who are raped often ask for it' (down from 15% in 1995). 5% of respondents do not believe that women can be raped by someone with whom they have been sexually intimate.

49% indicated that'women going through custody battles often make up or exaggerate claims of domestic violence in order to improve their case' (only 28% disagreed). 26% disagree that 'women rarely make false claims of being raped', contrary to evidence documenting that rates of false allegations of sexual and physical assault remain low.

The majority of respondents were in support of domestic violence being addressed as a matter of public concern rather than dealt with privately. Increased police powers to remove a violent offender from the home appeared to receive wide endorsement. The report comments that "community understandings of some of the dynamics that characterise domestic violence appear to have worsened", with the general community in 2009 being significantly less likely to understand why women stay in violent relationships than they were in 1995. "Just on half also believed that a woman could leave a violent relationship if she really wanted to. Men in the general community and younger respondents in particular were more likely to hold this view."

The strongest predictors for "holding violence-supportive attitudes were being male and having low levels of support for gender equity or equality", consistent for a range of measures across the national survey and even when other demographic factors were statistically controlled. Age was also predictive for some attitudinal measures, with younger respondents being less likely to rate some physical forms of violence as 'very serious'.

06 April 2010

Litigation Funding

While the Lord, pace Tony Abbott's recent comments about what Jesus would do, reportedly takes care of the little sparrows and wombats he leaves commercial litigants to their own devices. Unsurprisingly, some entities have turned to litigation funding -
at its core a contractual arrangement whereby a third party pays the cost of litigation and in return, if the case succeeds, receives a percentage of the proceeds. Litigation funding has been argued to be an important and legitimate development that provides access to justice, allows for the spreading of the risk of complex litigation and can improve the efficiency of litigation by bringing commercial considerations to bear.
A new 43 page paper by Michael Legg, Louisa Travers, Edmond Park & Nicholas Turner on 'Litigation Funding in Australia' argues that -
Litigation funding has been argued to be an important development in Australian civil litigation that provides access to justice, allows for the spreading of the risk of complex litigation and can improve the efficiency of litigation by bringing commercial considerations to bear. Since the High Court decision in Campbells Cash and Carry Pty Limited v Fostif Pty Ltd (2006) 229 CLR 386, the Australian litigation funding industry has enjoyed significant growth. However, the operation and proper constraints on litigation funding remains a live issue with concerns that the relatively unregulated nature of the litigation funding market creates the possibility for harm to consumers and the abuse of court processes. This paper reviews the development of litigation funding in Australia and the proposals for its regulation, including the decision in Brookfield Multiplex Limited v International Litigation Funding Partners Pte Ltd (2009) 180 FCR 11 where the Full Federal Court found that the litigation funding arrangements under consideration constituted a 'managed investment scheme' that was subject to the requirements of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
The authors note that -
There are six or seven litigation funding companies in Australia at present4 which account for about 95% of all litigation funding in Australia, including two (IMF (Australia) Ltd and Hillcrest Litigation Services Limited) listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
The paper includes a discussion of Jeffrey & Katauskas Pty Ltd v SST Consulting Pty Ltd (2009) 239 CLR 75, Hall v Poolman (2007) 215 FLR 243, Movitor Pty Ltd (in liq) v Sims (1996) 64 FCR 380 and Sons of Gwalia Ltd v Margaretic (2007) 231 CLR 160.

Dog whistling?

Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott is reported as indicating that Jesus would understand if he turned asylum-seekers away from our shores. Alas, there's no statement on whether other deities would be as permissive.

Mr Abbott explained that -
Jesus didn't say yes to everyone.

Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it's not necessarily everyone's place to come to Australia.
I'm not sure about the implication: refugees should obligingly stay in Darfur and similar places on the basis that God wants them to be slaughtered?

Asked what Jesus would do on the issue of asylum-seekers, Mr Abbott reportedly replied -
Don't forget, Jesus drove the traders from the temple as well.
That may well be so, but sundry investment advisers, hedge fund managers, journalists and regulators might also be driven. And let's not forget legal academics while we're in purification mode!

Mr Abbott went on to say that -
This idea that Jesus would say to every person who wanted to come to Australia, 'Fine, the door's open', I just don't think is necessarily right.

(But) let's not verbal Jesus, he is not here to defend himself.
Perhaps he doesn't need to defend Himself when the leader of the Liberal Party is in action.

The comments are an illustration of fashion in invoking divine authority - or dog whistling for people who have anxieties about 'refugees' (ignoring the reality that illegal immigration overwhelmingly involves people from N Europe and N America who arrive via jet rather than a leaky boat) and are nostalgic for the likes of Joe Lyons. Notions of Christian charity are apparently not an issue when it's time for politicians to emote about "sealing" the borders.