Magna Carta legacy lives on at Notre Dame thanks to generosity of donors

The Honourable Justice Robert Mitchell, Terry Merchant and Professor Doug Hodgson during the donation of the replica Magna Carta at the Eminent Speakers Series.

07 May 2015

A framed replica of Magna Carta, graciously donated to The University of Notre Dame Australia's School of Law, Fremantle, concluded the School's highly successful Eminent Speakers Series on Wednesday 15 April 2015.

This special presentation coincided with a keynote address by The Honourable Justice Robert Mitchell, Judge in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, on the document's 800 year legacy and its current impact on contemporary Australian law.

Donated by Terry and Geraldine Merchant, Magna Carta, meaning 'The Great Charter', served a practical solution to the political crisis King John of England faced in 1215. This document reinforced, that everyone, including the king, was subject to the rule of law.

Despite many of the clauses being rewritten or deleted over time, Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of British constitutional law and an influential document for other countries around the world.

The replica document will act as a legal and historical reminder for all Law students, academics and visiting members of the legal profession to Notre Dame of how Magna Carta has shaped and influenced the law and judicial system in Australia.

"The Magna Carta is one of the most important and celebrated documents in British legal history that represents freedom from autocratic rule and one which has had an enduring impact on modern and human rights law," Professor Doug Hodgson, Dean of the School of Law, Fremantle, said.

"It is through the kind generosity of Terry and Geraldine Merchant that the School of Law has received this wonderful gift which will be proudly displayed in the Craven Law Library. Magna Carta serves as a reminder of our legal past and the present foundations of democratic governance and the rule of law."

Notre Dame's Law students have the opportunity to relive and explore the importance of Magna Carta through a number of undergraduate units of study, including Legal History, Constitutional Law and Human Rights Law. These can be taken through most Bachelor's degrees and double degrees offered by the School of Law, Fremantle.

Dr Joan Squelch, Assistant Dean of Teaching and Learning in the School of Law, Fremantle, said it was relevant that Notre Dame's Law students recognised the significance of the fundamental principle of the rule of law and how this is expressed in modern law and the legal profession.

"A fundamental role of each Law graduate is to ensure that 'everyone has access to competent and independent legal advice' – a central focus of the Law Council of Australia's Policy on Rule of Law Principles," Dr Squelch said. "These Principles are underpinned by Magna Carta, reflecting the document's ongoing legacy in today's society."

To enquire further about courses in the School of Law, please contact the Prospective Students Office, Fremantle, on +61 8 9433 0533 or email

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;