• Publication Date: September 14, 2007
  • EAN: 9781862876521
  • 448 pages; 6" x 8⅝"
Filed Under: Essays; Legal Profession

The Mason Papers

Selected articles and speeches by Sir Anthony Mason


Product Description

" There have been times when Australian court judgments have held enormous weight in courts throughout the world, certainly throughout the Commonwealth. Owen Dixon’s High Court in the 1950s and Anthony Mason’s High Court in the 1980s are examples. If there were an Olympic record for teams of judges – and why not since they have Olympic medals for tae kwon do and beach volleyball – the Mason court would have won gold year after year. The quality of its jurisprudence was the best in the world" – Geoffrey Robertson QC, Sydney Morning Herald, 30th August 2007.

This book comprises a selection of articles and speeches by Sir Anthony Mason written and delivered when he was a Justice and later Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and after his retirement from that Court in 1995.

It demonstrates his long standing interest in the judicial process and his desire to communicate to the legal world and the public a more enlightened understanding of the proper scope of judicial law-making and the responsibility of judges for adapting the law to the changing conditions in society. It also displays his acknowledged mastery of public and private law and his belief in the growing significance of international and comparative law in the development of Australian law.

The book contains some important speeches and articles on constitutional and administrative law, international law, human rights, equity and contract, the High Court, judicial administration, advocacy, a significant media interview, a State of the Judicature report delivered as the Chief Justice of Australia and his swearing in speeches when appointed as a Justice and later Chief Justice of the High Court. Some of the selected speeches display Sir Anthony’s characteristic wit.

The book deals with highly topical subjects such as whether Australia should adopt a bill of rights, the health of Australia’s democratic institutions, the establishment of an Australian republic, globalization and the decline of parliamentary and national sovereignty.

The articles and speeches were chosen and edited by Professor Geoffrey Lindell in consultation with Sir Anthony.

Introduction by Geoffrey Lindell

Future Directions in Australian Law

The Use and Abuse of Precedent

The Role of the Judge at the Turn of the Century

Legislative and Judicial Law-Making: Can We Locate an Identifiable Boundary?

Rights, Values and Legal Institutions: Reshaping Australian Institutions

The Courts and Public Opinion

The Role of a Constitutional Court in a Federation: A Comparison of the Australian and the United States Experience

The Australian Constitution in Retrospect and Prospect

The Convention Model for the Republic

Administrative Law Reform: The Vision and the Reality

The Analytical Foundations, Scope and Comparative Analysis of the Judicial Review of Administrative Action

A Bill of Rights for Australia

Courts, Constitutions and Fundamental Rights

Deakin’s Vision, Australia’s Progress

Democracy and the Law

The Influence of International and Transnational Law on Australian Municipal Law

Decline of Sovereignty: Problems for Democratic Government

Themes and Tensions Underlying the Law of Contract

The Place of Equity and Equitable Remedies in the Contemporary Common Law World

Legal Research: Its Function and its Importance

Judicial Independence and the Separation of Powers – Some Problems Old and New

Sir Anthony’s Toast to the Contributors of the Oxford Companion to the High Court

The State of the Australian Judicature

The Role of Counsel and Appellate Advocacy

Swearing in as Justice of the High Court, 8 August 1972

Swearing in as Chief Justice of High Court, 6 February 1987

Chief Justice Comments on Fundamental Issues Facing the Judiciary

Biographical Details for Sir Anthony Mason AC, KBE


For any reader interested in the law, its development, and the interplay between policy and precedent, this is a fascinating book.

… [an] outstanding collection. … This work reproduces some outstanding presentations, discussions and analysis, inspiring and reinvigorating those whose interest in the law has given way to the practical demands of clients and time sheets.

Whatever view one has of the various matters which are canvassed, no reader will leave this work without a very strong sense of the powerful intellect of Sir Anthony Mason. – Law Letter, Autumn 2008

For those interested in the constitutional development of Australia and the role of the High Court in interpreting and applying the constitution, this book is an invaluable serious of essays for the former Chief Justice of the court, Sir Anthony Mason, who served as its head between 1987 and 1995.

[T]hese articles … represent a defence and vindication of the constructive role that the Mson court played in applying the 1901 constitution to contemporary events.

In these articles, Mason’s language manages to combine the erudite and learned with a lucid and understandable account of the way in which the High Court of Australia interprets the constitution and the various controversies that arise under it….

This book is a collection of materials that needs to be read by every citizen concerned with the relation between law and liberal democracy in the new century. – Jeff Shaw QC, Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 26-27

This sample of Sir Anthony Mason’s massive extrajudicial writings includes papers on numerous topics: judicial decision-making, the role of the judiciary, the need for a Bill of Rights, legal developments in areas including international law, public law, equity and contract, legal research and appellate advocacy.

It represents a valuable contribution to the legal literature. It provides insight into the way in which judges view their roles, and in this respect is of ongoing significance to those who want to understand the role of judges – and appellate judges in particular – in our political system. It provides insight into the views of one of Australia’s most significant High Court justices. In this respect, it will be a priceless resource for legal historians, both now and in years to come.

And many of its articles will be of interest for their content alone. The editor has added some helpful addenda, which clarify contextual matters, and briefly reported developments since the extracted pieces first appeared. It is well indexed. …

Even when flawed, [the articles] include much that is impressive. They are expressed with the clarity which comes from mastery both of language and of subject matter. Professor Lindell and The Federation Press are to be congratulated for making them accessible to a wider audience than they have hitherto enjoyed. – Roger Douglas, Law Society Journal (New South Wales), December 2007

The following review is extracted from the speech delivered by Professor Zines at the launch of The Mason Papers. The full transcript may be read by downloading the PDF file from the Federation Press website (see Supplements).

[L]eaving aside matters not included in the book, I do not know of any Australian law book by a single author that has such a broad coverage. Moreover, the contributions are written in a style that is lucid, succinct and elegant, as we have come to expect from Sir Anthony Mason.

There is someone else who must be mentioned. Professor Lindell engaged in a Herculean task in determining what among the author’s voluminous pieces should be included. …

Above all, Professor Lindell is to be commended for bringing together so well in the Introduction the various themes in the book, and also for his discussion of the propriety of extra-curial speech-making and writing by judges.

Federation Press (which has done so much to support Australian legal scholarship) has produced a handsome volume with a colourful and most attractive dust jacket. They are to be congratulated.

Justice Dyson Heydon, in the paper to which I referred earlier, indicated various qualities of modern judgments that he disliked and added, disapprovingly: “There is much talk of policy and interests and values.” That can certainly be said of The Mason Papers, but in no disparaging sense. It is in my opinion a highly commendable work. – Professor Leslie Zines

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