The Annual Frank Kitto Lecture at UNE

Published 06 November 2013

GagelerThe Annual Frank Kitto Lecture will take place at UNE on Monday 11 November. The lecture, held in honour of former University of New England Chancellor and Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Frank Walters Kitto, is one of the highlights of the University calendar.

Born in 1903, Sir Frank became one of the most respected lawyers in Australia before being appointed as the eighteenth justice of the High Court of Australia at only 47 years of age making him the first Justice appointed to the Court to have been born after Federation.

During his swearing in, Sir Frank made his oft-repeated statement on the importance of the law to our nation:

“[Australia’s] future will be influenced in no small degree by the quality of the work we do in upholding the rule of law and proving its worth and effectiveness in the development of a nation in whose righteousness must lie its greatness.”

Former Justice of the High Court, the Hon. Michael Kirby, described Sir Frank as having been a “living legend of the law.”

It was during his time on the High Court bench that Sir Frank began his long association with the University of New England, first as Deputy Chancellor and later as Chancellor.

This year the Lecture will be held by one of Sir Frank’s successors, the Honourable Justice Stephen Gageler (pictured).

The Honourable Justice Gageler was appointed to the High Court in October 2012. At the time of his appointment he was Solicitor-General of Australia. He is a graduate of the Australian National University and has post-graduate qualifications from Harvard University. He was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1989 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2000. Before his appointment as Solicitor-General in 2008, he practised as a barrister extensively throughout Australia principally in constitutional law, administrative law and commercial law.

Justice Gageler will be discussing one of the fundamental elements of the common law to which Australia subscribes: judgments, an area of expertise shared with Sir Frank Kitto.

His Honour has provided the following abstract:

In 1973 Sir Frank Kitto presented a paper to a Convention of Judges of the High Court and of the Supreme Courts of the States and Territories. The title of the paper was in the form of a question: “Why Write Judgments?” That question has become the subject of contemporary controversy. Forty years on, this lecture reassesses the answer given by Sir Frank Kitto in the light of modern choice theory and behavioural science.

The Annual Lecture held in his name has been presented by a long list of some of Australia’s most well-known and esteemed legal names, including current High Court Chief Justice, the Hon. Robert Shenton French, former High Court Chief Justice, Sir Anthony Mason, the Hon. Justice Michael Kirby, former President of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of NSW, the Hon. Justice James Allsop, and former Justice of the NSW Supreme Court and President of the Mental Health Review Tribunal, the Hon. Greg James QC