Tomorrow: The 2018 Forbes Lecture and support of research projects

29/05/2018

Legal history

On Wednesday, 30 May 2018 the Hon Justice Virginia Bell AC will deliver the 2018 Forbes Lecture, "By the skin of our teeth – the passing of the Women's Legal Status Act 1918", to mark the Centenary of the Act. The lecture will take place at 5.15 pm in the NSW Bar Association Common Room, and will be chaired by Arthur Moses SC.

Research projects supported by the Forbes Society

One of the Society’s objects is to encourage and promote research into Australian legal history and it maintains a fund for that purpose to which donations may be made – the Francis Forbes Fund (donations of $2.00 or more to which are tax deductible). Last year the Fund supported the project of Professor Anne Twomey (of the University of Sydney) to publish Pitt Cobbett's grand opus called ‘The Government of Australia’. The Society shares this update from Professor Twomey:

Professor Pitt Cobbett wrote his grand opus on The Government of Australia in his retirement, leaving it as an 'unfinished symphony' upon his death in 1919, with a request to his executors that it be finished, edited and published. But the High Court handed down its judgment in the Engineers Case the following year, and the executors decided the manuscript was out of date. It was instead donated to the University of Sydney and has sat quietly moulding there ever since. It is now a work of great historic importance, showing how the Constitution was understood in the first twenty years of its existence.

The Forbes Society has kindly supported the project of finishing, editing and publishing this work. The aim is to publish it upon the centenary of Pitt Cobbett's death, in 2019. The Society donated $8300 to pay a PhD student to check the footnotes of the book and to help subsidise publication to make it viable. Unfortunately, the full $8300 was spent on the footnote checking, as it turned out that as Pitt Cobbett's illness increased, the accuracy of his footnotes decreased and considerable work had to be undertaken to find the correct sources. I am therefore hoping for some additional assistance from the Society later in the year to subsidise publication so that it can be published as a hardback book for libraries and scholars to consult for generations. The support of the Society is essential for this type of work, which would otherwise not see the light of day and remain moulding away, unseen and forgotten. We will not learn from our past unless our history is readily accessible. The Francis Forbes Society ensures that it is.

The Society encourages further donations to enable it to support such worthy projects – a form for donations is available here: Forbes Fund Donation Form and on the web site at Donations.


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