The University of Notre Dame Australia Hosts Magna Carta Symposium

School of Law Sydney, Associate Dean, Dr Keith Thompson
with School of Law Dean, Professor Michael Quinlan

08 May 2015

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta – and there are many events taking place around the world to recognise this anniversary. However the Magna Carta Symposium to be held on Wednesday May 13 at The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Sydney Campus will be different.

Dean of the School of Law, Sydney, Professor Michael Quinlan, said the Magna Carta was widely revered as the watershed from which all Anglo-American human rights flowed – even though very few of its original 39 clauses have not been repealed in England.

“Prominent among the familiar list of rights which the barons are said to have extracted from King John is their right to trial by a jury of their peers, prompt justice and the right of the church to be free from political interference,” Professor Quinlan said.

“This symposium, close to the 800th anniversary of the signature of the document, will focus on some of the document’s lesser known features – features which do not completely resonate with its reputation as the foundation of human rights.”

Professor Quinlan said the symposium would begin with a discussion of ‘Religious Liberty and the Magna Carta’. “It will also consider ‘Anti-Semitism and the Magna Carta’ which is one aspect of the Magna Carta which is rarely discussed,” he said. “To challenge the view that the Magna Carta could have no direct contemporary relevance, we have included a segment on ‘The Use of the Magna Carta in Contemporary Litigation’.”

The talks will be given by prominent speakers: Geoffrey Watson SC, Dr Keith Thompson and John Emmerig.

Geoffrey Watson SC, well known for his cross-examination of recalcitrant politicians as Counsel assisting NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, will examine the Charter’s explicit anti-Semitism.

Dr Keith Thompson, Associate Dean of Law at The University of Notre Dame Australia, will discuss the nature of the religious freedom which the Charter did protect.

The final guest speaker, John Emmerig, a Sydney partner of the international corporate and commercial law firm Jones Day, will add to the eclectic flavour of the night with his experiences in dealing with Magna Carta issues which are still occasionally raised in contemporary litigation in Sydney.

The evening will begin at 6pm for a 6:30pm start at St Benedict’s Building (room NDS2/301). Phone (02) 8204 4300 for more information and bookings.

Theresa Kyne: Tel (02) 8204 4141; Mob: 0407 408 177;