The Unseen Menace: ‘sleeper’ choice of law issues in the Australian law(s) of torts


In the 20th century, the Australian law of torts was still largely a common law field. The Ipp reforms of the first decade of this century were intended to be uniform. Despite the Ipp recommendations, the Australian law of torts is not uniform – indeed, due to the patchwork legislation in the various states and territories, it is more correct to speak of Australian laws of tort.

The intra-Australian choice of law test set out in Pfeiffer v Rogerson (2000) 203 CLR 503 in respect of the application of the various state statutes as well as the question which state statute (if any) should be ‘picked up’ and applied in the federal jurisdiction is far from straightforward. The Pfeiffer test only applies to matters that can be characterised as substantive. However, some legislative changes that have been made to the law of torts are procedural. Moreover, the question which state statute, if any, should be ‘picked up’ and applied in the federal jurisdiction is far from clear. The resulting issues appears not to have been addressed or have been ignored because they are not easy to analyse. The issues are, however, real and have practical consequences.

In this seminar the speaker will discuss issues both from an academic and a practical perspective.


This is an in-person event only and will be recorded.