Old Law, New Law follows the author’s Lawyers Then and Now in offering a miscellany of genuine legal stories drawn from Australian legal history as well as its modern law. If there is any change of focus, this work looks at the people of the law through the prism of established or changing legal doctrines and processes.
The chapter headings will show that quirky humanity intrudes into the most doctrinaire of fields (such as statutory interpretation and tort law) and that law intrudes into every facet of human life (including food, drink and sex). As in the former work, there is much comparing of attitudes past and present, while observing the underlying constancy of human values and biases within every corner of the law.
Readers will discover:
the constitutional distinction between financial and moral bankruptcy
the New South Wales judge who responded to a submission on behalf of the Queensland Commissioner for Railways by stating “You don’t think we are going to let you banana-benders get away with that, do you?”
Chief Justices who entered dodgy marriages, committed contempts of court or were described as “sexy” by litigants they encountered
judges who upheld appeals from their own judgments
strange aspects of matrimonial law and lore, including “wife sales” and forced outcomes of the biblical “one flesh” concept
some (rare) sightings of appellate judges abusing each other
several instances of cannibalism and the law.
From the Launch…
“A glance at the index of names shows that many of these anecdotes relate to judges and lawyers who are still in the world and many still engaged in their careers. … Those who know Keith well do not need my persuasion, and I suggest that every lawyer in mid-career or seriously preparing for a career should read, needs to read Keith Mason’s books, both of them, and keep them on a shelf somewhere handy next to Owen Dixon’s Jesting Pilate. They are full of lessons gentle and sharp about how to behave, the wisdom of not giving in during moments of rage or disdain, and the perils of dropping one’s guard. Weaknesses and eccentricities and lapses of courtesy may be talked about for the rest of one’s life, and for long afterwards, in some cases for centuries. Keith teaches many lessons in what to do, and what to avoid doing, showing why. With more than pleasure, with great enthusiasm I commend Keith Mason’s book to its first readership of lawyers, and to a further and wider readership of people who would like to understand what lawyers are, what they do and how human their institutions are.” Read launch speech…
From the Launch Speech by The Hon John P. Bryson QC