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Sri Lankan judiciary gain experience of Australian law

April 2016 professional development event.


11 members of the Sri Lankan judiciary, including five Supreme Court judges and six judges from the Sri Lankan Court of Appeal were welcomed to Deakin Law School  (DLS) for professional development.

‘This is the first time an entire court has visited another institution as a group for a workshop. The 11 judges represent half of the justices who sit on the two highest courts in Sri Lanka. The other 11 judges will come for a similar workshop later in the year,’ DLS lecturer Athula Pathinayake says.

The Sri Lankan judiciary is seeking to develop their legal system to better manage the challenges they encounter as an emerging economy. The increased number of transactions arising from opening up the market to international trade is being met with a deficit in capability of legal advice, with judges being unfamiliar with laws related to international trade and arbitration as well as investors who are uncertain as to how legal rules will play out.

Based on Australia’s more stable legal system, DLS was able to provide insight into a wide range of topics including: constitutional law in Australia; technology and case management processes (e.g. video trials, online capabilities); dispute resolution, international commercial arbitration, and sentencing.

During their visit, the Sri Lankan judges were able to participate in the launch of Deakin’s new Centre on the Legal Profession. The Hon. Justice W.P.G. Dep PC of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka addressed staff, students and alumni with a presentation entitled ‘Sri Lankan Legal Profession and Judiciary – Past, Present and Future.  Kate Miller, Innovation Counsel for the Victorian Solicitor’s Office, also addressed the audience on the topic of ‘Innovation and Legal Services’.

As part of their trip, Mr Pathinayake and Dean of Law, Professor Sandeep Gopalan, accompanied the judges to Canberra where they met with the High Commissioner at the Sri Lankan Embassy.

They were also received by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Hon. Robert Shenton Fench AC, who provided an overview of the Australian Constitution and the High Court.

It is hoped that visits from the judiciary and legal practitioners will become a regular feature of the centre. DLS actively seeks to provide students and staff with opportunities to interact with judges and other members of the legal profession as a means of providing a practical perspective to their study and research.

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