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It makes no difference really in which room the gavel bangs. Paul Matthew Photography/Shutterstock

Online courts must not compromise fairness

Can the serious atmosphere of court, standing in the dock facing a be-wigged judge and barristers, be carried over into the…
The captain of the Costa Concordia has been sentenced to 16 years' jail after the ship ran aground off the coast of Italy two years ago. EPA/Luca Zennaro

If a company causes death at sea, don’t assume that means jail time

Late last week, an Italian court sentenced the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner, Francesco Schettino, to 16 years' jail after finding him guilty of multiple charges of manslaughter. On January…
Galloway is the master of the chilling effect. Vince Millett

British MP exploits vague defamation law to sue Guardian journalist

Maverick MP George Galloway has announced he is suing Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman over an accusation she made about him on Twitter, following his appearance on a recent edition of Question Time…
If you’re in favor of copyright extensions – and aren’t a corporation holding the rights or a descendent of the original author – you probably need some sense knocked into you. Flickr

Why Batman and Rhapsody in Blue should be in the public domain, but aren’t

In 1998, if Congress hadn’t extended copyrights by 20 years, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind would all be in the public domain…
Lana Towers was murdered by her partner. The court heard statements on the impact of her death on family and friends and, for the first time, on the broader community impacts of domestic violence. Facebook

Don’t expect ‘world first’ impact statement to transform sentencing

In May 2013, Michael Suve McDonald beat to death Lana Towers, his partner of eight years and the mother of their two children. In what is thought to be a world first, the South Australian Commissioner…
We can now know whether this rendition of Miley Cyrus is (legally) parody. tehchix0r

The dispute over humour that reached the EU’s highest court

You probably don’t tend to consider any legal issues while watching Rita Ora’s recent parody of Beyonce’s 7/11 or the Chatroulette version of Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball. But there are limits to the extent…
Scott Morrison has repeatedly characterised the Asylum Seeker Code of Behaviour as being necessary to protect the Australian community. AAP/Alan Porritt

Asylum seeker code is a rhetorical tool – with severe consequences

Recently, it was reported that asylum seekers are “staying indoors”, fearful of breaching the Asylum Seeker Code of Behaviour. All unauthorised maritime arrivals (UMAs) who are granted bridging visas are…
Should Australia’s High Court judges be representative of the community that their rulings affect? Should politics play a part? AAP/Lukas Coch

Appointing Australia’s highest judges deserves proper scrutiny

Late last week, the federal government appointed Geoffrey Nettle, a Victorian Court of Appeal judge, to the High Court to replace retiring justice Susan Crennan. Nettle is an excellent lawyer and his appointment…
The Productivity Commission rightly identified widespread concerns that Australia’s civil justice system is too slow, too expensive and too adversarial. shutterstock

Extra funding for legal assistance services should only be a start

The Productivity Commission raised a few eyebrows when it called for an additional A$200 million for legal assistance services to disadvantaged Australians, who are “more susceptible to, and less equipped…
A grand jury decision not to indict a police officer over the shooting death of Michael Brown has sparked protests and questions over the system’s efficacy. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Only in America: why Australia is right not to have grand juries

The idea of the grand jury is already familiar to many Australians through American television legal drama. But its profile just skyrocketed with a grand jury deciding not to indict policeman Darren Wilson…
How prevalent is the use of lethal force by police in Australia, and is a disturbing trend developing in Queensland? AAP/Dave Hunt

Shoot to kill: the use of lethal force by police in Australia

Over the weekend, Queensland police shot and killed a 51-year-old man who was allegedly armed with a knife. On Monday night, another man was shot and killed on the Gold Coast. It was the sixth Queensland…
Sarah Koenig recording Serial. Elise Bergerson

Serial breaks iTunes records – and it’s easy to see why

I have to confess I made a big mistake in not reviewing the real life whodunit podcast Serial when I listened to the first episode in October. Initially little-known, the podcast has just broken iTunes…
Plea bargaining in our criminal justice system receives far more negative than positive attention. AAP/Dave Hunt

In plea bargaining, who really gets the bargain?

Plea bargaining consistently attracts more attention than almost any other aspect of the criminal justice system. Recently, it has received more attention than usual after US District Court judge Jed Rakoff…
A carrier’s liability for damage, loss or delay of baggage is governed by a number of overarching international treaties. Adam Fagen

What to claim for lost, delayed or damaged bags on overseas flights

If you get on a plane and your baggage ends up being delayed, damaged or lost, who’s responsible: you or the airline? And what rules apply when you’re flying between different countries – even if you don’t…

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