• Publication Date: August 21, 2014
  • EAN: 9781876861131
  • 288 pages; 6" x 8⅝"
Filed Under: Media & the Law

Excursions in the Law


Product Description

In 40 years as a barrister and judge Peter Heerey AM QC has observed and sometimes taken part in memorable legal events.

This work is partly a collection of recollections; a murder trial, a Privy Council appeal, the leading High Court decision on the liability for barristers’ negligence and the cause célèbre of Professor Orr and his dismissal by the University of Tasmania.

There are also studies of notable historical and legal figures: Andrew Inglis Clark, Sir Owen Dixon, Abraham Lincoln, Justice Antonin Scalia and others as well as some of his professional colleagues.

From time to time Peter’s work has included periods in other lands: the American South, Quebec, Vanuatu and Ireland. Vivid impressions of their historical backgrounds and some current personalities are recorded.

Law is looked at from a literary perspective. There are discussions of the commercial and litigious issues in The Merchant of Venice, post modernist analysis of legal issues and storytelling in the law.


From the Launch…

“On 16 September 2014, barristers and friends of The Hon Peter Heerey AM QC gathered in the Essoign Club to launch his book Excursions in the Law. Jeremy Ruskin QC and the Hon James Gobbo AC QC both entertained attendees with rousing speeches about Mr Heerey and his book. Victorian Bar News is proud to publish these photographs of the launch of this book, penned by our own former VBN editor.” Read more…


Andrew Inglis Clark: The Man and his Legacy
Andrew Inglis Clark and Cricket
The Supreme Court of Tasmania: Its First Century 1824-1924
The Orr Case Revisited
Hobart – A Guide for Innocent Mainlanders

The Victorian Bar: Some History and a Little Lore
Memories of the Battle of Hastings
The Judicial Herd: Seduced by Suave Glittering Phrases?
A Question of Judgment
Judges at Work
A Towering Figure of the Law
Counsel’s Baggage
Judgment Writing
The Ballad of Briginshaw
Chettyar’s Case
Down with Defamation!
Jeff Sher’s Farewell
Ode to His Honour Judge Ross
Ode to His Honour Judge Gebhardt

A Last Hurrah – Privy Council Days
Law in Vanuatu
Canada and Quebec
The Traveller’s Return
Away Down South in Dixie
The Years of Lyndon Johnson
Justice Antonin Scalia
Abraham Lincoln – Patent Lawyer
How Judges Think
A Night at the King’s Inns
An Officer and a Spy

The Merchant of Venice and the Trade Practices Act
Truth, Lies and Stereotype: Stories of Mary and Louis
Storytelling, Postmodernism and the Law
Aesthetics, Culture, and the Whole Damn Thing
Rediscovering Rhetoric

Bracket (“Bracket”) Creep
Colonising Language
Historical Dating

The foreword to this book was written by Sir James Gobbo. Sir James was the author’s pupil-master when the author moved from his hometown of Hobart to Victoria and joined the Victorian Bar. Sir James remarks that he soon came to enjoy the author’s breadth of interests, literary flair and wry sense of humour. Those traits are displayed clearly in this book which contains over 30 of the author’s papers and other writings including poems. True to the word ‘excursions’ in the title, the subject-matter of the papers, which is divided into five parts, is diverse and extends from Hobart and Victoria to overseas jurisdictions including Vanuatu, Canada, the United States and Ireland. … Peter Heerey is to be commended for a book which contains a collection of papers and other writings on such a variety of topics. Read full review… – Daniel Klineberg, Bar News, Autumn 2015

Peter Heerey is a former leader of the Victoria Bar and a former Federal Court judge. This book is a collection of his writings on diverse subjects. … The book contains an interesting collection and itself gives us a good pen picture of the nature of the author. Read full review… – Peter W Young, Australian Law Journal, April 2015

“What’s on a judge’s mind? Litigants and advocates would love to know. Former judge Peter Heerey answers that question in his latest book, a compendium of writing over many years, covering a vast array of topics and in myriad forms.There is plenty of engagement on show here from a mind full of ceaseless enquiry. The book is a testament to the foolhardiness of the provision in the Australian Constitution (introduced by referendum in 1977), which has resulted, as Heerey well demonstrates, in many of our best legal minds being lost to the bench at what can be the all-too-premature age of seventy.” Read full review… – Colin Golvan QC, Australian Book Review, Dec 2014

“Excursions in the Law is a voyage across a broad terrain, from Knopwood’s in Salamanca to the King’s Inn of Ireland, following the journeys of the Hon Peter Heerey AM QC. This is not an autobiography – it is a collections of talks, articles, odes and recollections. There are some inside tracks into what appears to be a fascinating career at the bar including a conference with a Mr Chicken.” Read full review… – Tasman Ash Fleming, InPrint, Law Institute Journal Victoria, Dec 2014

“Excursions are meant to be fun, as well as instructive, and these are. Peter Heerey refreshingly thought it unnecessary to exclude a sense of humour from his judgments. This collection of papers includes reviews of influential lawyers and politicians, notes on interesting cases and an account of an appearance before the Privy Council (“The thought crosses one’s mind that, trying to be as objective as one can, there is much to be said for the retention of appeals to the Privy Council”). There are serious reflections on the way in which justice systems operate (and should operate) and examinations of issues such as whether Australia would be well served by a Bill of Rights. But the legal figures and occasions are chosen as often as not because they have attracted the author’s keen and twinkling eye for human weakness and the absurd. A love affair with the Bard is revealed. There is an account of the Merchant of Venice by reference to the Elizabethan forerunner of the Australian Consumer Law. There are some mild rebukes for abusers of the English language. Then there is some poetry. The author frankly acknowledges his view that poetry should rhyme. It is not clear if he agrees with this reviewer that rhyming is not only a necessary but a sufficient condition of poetry. The book brings to mind the (regrettably unacknowledged) lines of the famous poet, Anon: Life’s not for cranky fulmination but enjoyment. And wordsmiths to that worthy end deserve employment.” – Ross Macaw QC, Nov 2014

“This is an interesting and entertaining collection of short pieces drawn from fact and fiction. The book is a cornucopia of different works ranging from serious analysis to humorous comments, poems, and recollections. … Heerey’s book is an enjoyable read that demonstrates his wide range of abilities as a wordsmith and his love of the English language.” Read full review… – Queensland Law Reporter, Oct [2014] 38 QLR

“I am enjoying it very much … There is much in it of great interest to me, not least your discussion of me! I am currently writing a book that amplifies my heresies, and there is valuable both supportive and critical material in your work.” – Richard Posner, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

“This is brilliant. … I love it.” – Sir Robin Jacob UK Court of Appeal (retired)

“… on a terribly long journey home to Sydney …your book was a wonderful companion. Like everyone else who reads the book, I went first to the essays on Andrew Inglis Clark and Sydney Sparkes Orr. Two more different characters it would be hard to imagine. Yet each rejoiced in the reputation of a philosopher. Clark wrote the first draft of Chapter III of the Australian Constitution. Orr wrote a chapter of mighty conflict in Tasmanian society. Both are indelibly part of the history of Tasmania and thus of Australia. You bring them to life. After reading your book, I know which one I would invite to dinner!” – The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

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