The Bryan Pape Memorial Prize for Constitutional Law

On the 27 April 2014, Bryan Pape (aged 69) died suddenly and unexpectedly at home. Since Bryan’s death, we have wanted to mark his distinctive contribution to the School of Law and his unique achievement in Pape v The Commissioner for Taxation (Pape). As such, I am writing to inform you that the School intends to establish The Bryan Pape Memorial Prize for Constitutional Law.

Between 2000 and 2011, Bryan was a senior lecturer at this School. He taught, amongst other things, taxation, evidence, and constitutional law. But, in some ways, he is best remembered at the School for the compulsory unit he developed and introduced – LS480: Advanced Research, Legal Writing, and Advocacy. The students call the third module of this unit ‘Moot’. This unit became a capstone in the School’s law degree. Not surprisingly, Bryan was also instrumental in the building of the moot court room in the School. He also took a big role in establishing the UNE AgLaw Centre - the only one of its kind in Australia. It continues to flourish and grow.

More widely, Bryan is best known for his role in Pape. In that 2009 High Court case, Bryan was the first self-represented legal academic to argue a case before the court in its 110 year history. Due to Pape, a line of cases began that restrict the Commonwealth’s disbursement of monies. The Commonwealth can now only disburse monies when it is clearly within its constitutional power to do so. That was always Bryan’s argument.Born on 17 January 1945 at Castlemaine, Victoria, Bryan held a Bachelor of Commerce (UNSW), a Diploma in Law (BAB), and a Graduate Certificate of Higher Education (UNE). When he came to the School of Law, he brought with him a wealth of practice experience as an accountant, his almost 20 years at the NSW Bar, and his experience as a member of the Taxation Board of Review (appointed at age 36). In 1992, he was appointed to the Australian Accounting Standards Board.

Bryan set high standards as a teacher, especially in LS480. He often talked of rigour. He had many memorable mantras for students: ‘Look it up’, ‘clear, concise, and correct’ and ‘preparation, preparation, preparation’. I am told that his new graduate students would often greet him in Macquarie Street, Sydney repeating one of these mantras. He also had humour: ‘if you are ten minutes early, you are late’. Behind his gruff and irascible exterior, there was warm heartedness and a deep compassion, especially for hard working students.

The School aims to have sufficient funds to offer the prize in 2016. The UNE Foundation requires contributions to total a minimum capital sum of $25,000 (preferably more) to set up a decent annual prize fund from the income. Gifts to the UNE Foundation are tax deductible and they will send you a receipt. If you would complete and return the donation form, we will be most appreciative.