The aim of this page is to condense an entire subject into one small idea or a few words. It's not easy, or necessarily accurate. However I found each subject usually resonates with a core idea or a few words. The single most resonating word you will often hear in law is: reasonable. Was what you did or they did reasonable? Being reasonable in the eyes of the law is a great way to defend yourself, especially against an accusation of being unreasonable. Something to consider...
The LA reference for each idea below is the subject code at JCU Cairns for the subject relevant to the core idea.
LA1101: Legal Institutions and Processes. Keyword: Legitimate. To have legitimacy an idea must be supported by all, or at least a majority. Usually based against objective and independent standards supported by a majority, especially if voted on by all eligible participants. If you want legitimacy and justice, you need to find it on agreed common ground.
LA1102: Legal Research, Writing and Analysis. Keyword: Precedent. Circumstances that have been decided in the past will significantly affect a decision on similar circumstances in the future. Look at past decisions as they will often tell you how new but similar issues may be decided. There is a good guide for QCAT decisions. You need unique circumstances to justify a new decision. You need unique circumstances to justify your situation as different to those already decided. Stare decisis means "where we stand", and unless you have a new place to stand, there is little movement.
LA1103: Law, Society and Change. Keyword: Perspective. What one person thinks or believes to be true is totally valid when trying to understand actions or behaviour. Truth is a seperate issue.
Keyword: Context. Someone's beliefs, culture, religion and upbringing will affect how they view your perspective. Try to get your opponent to understand your perspective, not with anger, but with getting them to walk in your shoes, imagine being in your shoes. You do the same. This will help you find common ground.
LA1105: Contract Law. Key idea: The Factual Matrix. Every case is different, the exact facts and circumstances of every case determine how the case can be resolved. The construction of contract terms (what they mean), and all the words and conduct of the parties goes to the core of the ultimate resolution to any dispute. A holistic approach looking at all information available to be considered has been confirmed by the High Court of Australia as the preferred approach.
See Codelfa Construction Pty Ltd v State Rail Authority (NSW) (1982) 149 CLR 337.
LA2019: Torts A. Keyword: Reasonable. This is a word that comes up often in law, and it is a cornerstone word to remember. Reasonable. Is what you did reasonable? Did you do or say something, or have something done to you or said about you, that a reasonable person in the street, a person who does not live in an "ivory tower" but instead is a person that can "read between the lines" would think is reasonable? If an average, ordinary, reasonable person like this would think whatever happened was reasonable, then that's pretty much the end of the story. In fact, being reasonable, and taking all reasonable steps will help you case should something unreasonable happen to you. Having been reasonable in your actions is a very good position to be in if you are caught in any legal situation. However, when your actions, or someones else's actions are unreasonable, it is time to start talking about remedies.
LA2020: Torts B. Negligence keywords: Foreseeable, causation, risk, contributory negligence. A man or woman walks into a park and is injured. Was it negligence by the council? A boy jumps off a bridge and becomes a paraplegic; a person goes to their doctor and believes they were not correctly advised; a drunk driver rides a motorcycle, is killed and injures another. Who caused the harm? Who is the nominal defendant? Was there negligence? Did the injured person contribute to the harm suffered. The Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) can help address many of these questions, together with case law. Queensland's Civil Liability Act 2003 was part of an Australian rollout of civil liability laws based on the Ipp Panel Report. At the root of any negligence claim there must be harm suffered. An important question preceding the calculus of negligence, is an enquiry that asks 'was the risk sufficiently significant to be greater than less than insignificant'. Note that mere insignificance can still meet the less than insignificant threshold, because insignificance is in itself not sufficiently insignificant to be less than insignificant. An insignificant risk is therefore still a notch above less than insignificant, and thereby sufficiently significant to require precautions be taken, to prevent a breach of duty, under s 9 of the CLA. Fascinating!
LA3015: Constitutional Law. Keywords: Reasonably appropriate and adapted; Proportionate. It is not always corporations that need to sometimes check or challenge the constitutional validity of a law. Sometimes it can be a man or woman in the street who just wants to vote in an election. Just that a law exists does not automatically mean that the law is valid. Constitutional law cases appear often focused on large corporations with constitutional questions: tobacco sales and taxes; gambling taxes; restrictions or burdens on the free sale of alcohol; banking restrictions; or the arbitration of industrial disputes. However, the Australian Constitution also exists for the man or woman in the street who simply want to vote at the next federal or state election. Has there been a burden place upon them that fetters this implied right to vote? Australian constitutional interpretation is centered on proportionality of a law, or a response to a law. Is a law reasonably appropriate and adapted to address the problem (or mischief) that a law is trying to fix. If not reasonably appropriate and adapted, and disproportionate to the end, then that law, or bylaw, or regulation, or government backed program might just be invalid.
LA2092: Environmental Law: Keyword: Significant impact. Environmental law appears littered with nice phrases and nods to protecting the environment via Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). However, the devil is in that word "development". It is development and the use of natural resources to satisfy societies need and demand for goods, and the profit goals of artificial people with the legal rights of a person (corporations) that ultimately means development trumps the environment. But wait, all is not lost! If you as an individual, or a council, or a environmental group can prove that the impact on the environment of a particular 'action' will be a significant or material impact, there may be a way to stop the action, or have mitigation measures put in place. The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), and other state legislation, together with international environmental principles like the Precautionary Principle, can help save the environment from utter decimation. It is, and will be, an ongoing battle.
LA4034 Options: to resolve a dispute, you need options. The more options you have, the better your chances of resolving the dispute. One good option is to put the problem to one side, and look at the problem objectively and together with the other party. By separating yourselves from the problem, you can find options to fix it. The more common ground you can find with your opponent, the more options you can discover. Your personal relationship with your opponent is separate to the issue. The issue is what you have in common. Try to maintain a good relationship with your opponent, and focus on resolving the issue as your common goal.