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The Tuning Cymbal eBook

Selected Papers and Speeches of the Hon Robert French AC




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AUD $160.00 gst included

Published in association with the Australian Academy of Law, this collection of papers and speeches draws on the career of one of Australia’s leading jurists, the Hon Robert French AC.

The book is divided into ten parts, each reflecting an aspect of French’s career such as Indigenous issues, human rights, public law, commercial dispute resolution and the judicial system. French’s contributions are put into context through commentaries by leading legal academics and practitioners including Chief Justice Tom Bathurst AC, Professor Megan Davis, Fiona McLeod AO SC, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Professor Anne Twomey.

The result is a rich account of French’s contribution to the law.

The Honourable Kevin Lindgren AM QC FAAL

Notes on the Commentators
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes

An introduction to Justice Robert Shenton French AC
Prof Robert Pascoe

Part A: Indigenous Issues
Commentator: Prof Megan Davis
1. Native Title – A Constitutional Shift?
2. Simple Justice – Recognition and Sovereignty

Part B: Human Rights, Diversity and Access to Justice
Commentator: Fiona McLeod AO SC
3. Equal Justice and Cultural Diversity – The General Meets the Particular
4. Rights and Freedoms and the Rule of Law
5. Access to Justice – Indispensable to Equal Justice

Part C: The Profession
Commentator: Jennifer Batrouney QC
6. Don’t You Know Who I Am? – Ego and Identity in the Administration of Justice
7. It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose
8. Singers of Song and Dreamers of Plays
9. Legal Change – The Role of Advocates
10. Seeking Higher Things in Higher Education – The Case of the Lawyers

Part D: Public Law
Commentator: Prof Anne Twomey
11. The Constitution and the People
12. The Chief Justice and the Governor-General
13. Judge Bridlegoose, Randomness and Rationality in Administrative Decision-making
14. The Globalisation of Public Law – A Quilting of Legalities
15. The Principle of Legality and Legislative Intention

Part E: Comparative Law
Commentator: Em Prof Cheryl Saunders AO FBE
16. Home Grown Laws in a Global Neighbourhood – Australia, the United States and the Rest
17. The Rule of Law as a Many Coloured Dream Coat
18. Australia and the United Kingdom – A Bit Like Family – Much in Common but a Lot Different

Part F: Intersections
Commentator: The Honourable Kevin Lindgren AM QC FAAL
19. Science and Judicial Proceedings: 76 Years On.
20. Are You Sure?
21. Judges and Academics – Dialogue of the Hard of Hearing

Part G: Competition Law
Commentator: Russell Miller AM
22. The Role of Courts in Competition Law.
23. The Moving Finger Writes: Having Writ, Rewrites.

Part H: Commercial Dispute Resolution – Domestic and International
Commentator: Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon
24. Arbitration and Public Policy
25. Convergence of Commercial Laws – Fence Lines and Fields
26: Public and Private Spaces – Dispute Resolution in International Trade and Commerce

Part I: The Judicial System
Commentator: Chief Justice Tom Bathurst
27. Judicial Exchange: Debalkanising the Courts
28. The Changing Face of Judicial Leadership – A Western Australian Perspective

Part J: Legal Education
Commentator: Prof Carolyn Evans FASSA
29. Legal Education in Australia – A Never Ending Story


As the former Chief Justice, entrusted with stewardship of the highest court in Australia, Justice French is uniquely situated to speak to the legal landscape in Australia over the decades. It is therefore unsurprising that this collection of his Honour’s writings is insightful, useful and thought-provoking, covering a breadth and variety of topics from substantive law to the philosophical.

Fiona Maher, The Queensland Lawyer, Vol 39(1), 2021

Published in association with the Australian Academy of Law, this collection of papers and speeches draws on the career of one of Australia’s leading jurists, the Honourable Robert French AC. The collection of essays is divided into ten thematic parts which reflect the author’s expansive and distinguished career. Each part is introduced by leaders of practice and the academy including Chief Justice Tom Bathurst AC, Professor Megan Davis, Fiona McLeod AO SC, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Professor Anne Twomey.

The Tuning Cymbal includes parts on diverse topics of substantive law including Indigenous Issues, Competition law, Public Law and Human Rights. They each chart developments in the relevant field and pose thought-provoking questions as to the future. For example, Chapters 1 and 2 canvass issues of great urgency by surveying historic developments in Indigenous sovereignty through native title while also illuminating and interrogating conceptions of sovereignty and recognition.

Chapters on comparative law and “interconnections” demonstrate the author’s extensive repertoire and unique ability to draw together disparate themes. Of particular interest is Chapter 19 “Science and Judicial Proceedings” – a nod to the author’s studies in both disciplines. Chapters on the judicial system, legal education and the profession round out the collection by exploring the great institutions of the author’s chosen field.

Chapter 27 continues the theme of interconnectedness by exploring judicial exchange by reference to “Debalkanising the Courts”. “Parochialism is a mental virus, which can infect anybody”, wrote the Honourable Robert French AC in 2006 in that paper. This collection of essays demonstrates parochialism of any form to be the antithesis of the author’s career and writing. The words feel particularly prescient in 2021.

S Marsh, Queensland Law Reporter, [2021] 30 QLR

All in all a valuable and highly readable collections.
…a wide range of thoughtful and thought-provoking comments.

Peter Heerey, Victorian Bar News, Issue 169, Winter 2021

At a moment in time when the foundations of democracy are under siege in many corners of the world, this collection is a testament to that invaluable legacy.

Shipra Chordia, NSW Bar News, Summer 2020

This book is a worthy testimonial to one of Australia’s most
distinguished jurists. It stimulates thought about the legal system and associated topics.

Graham Fricke, Vic Law Institute Journal, December 2020

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