Offshore No More

Kanika Kirpalani

It is a strange twist of fate when one’s study of Corporate Law suddenly becomes applicable and vital to understanding the latest Australian Budget.

Or perhaps it is a re ection of the now infamous ‘Panama Papers’ and the impact this has had on the shaping of the 2016 Budget. The Panama Papers became a worldwide phe- nomenon when papers were leaked from the legal rm Mossack Fonseca in the titular country. The papers implicated some of the world’s wealthiest in tax avoidance schemes, whereby ‘shell companies’ were set up to harbour funds by shifting large amounts of money to tax havens, like Panama and Monaco. In what seems to be a fantastic irony in today’s world, the most elite are so practiced at systematically undermining taxation schemes, thereby reducing their overall impact. For when less taxpayer money exists, the funding of infrastructure, schools and hospitals, and so forth, becomes less feasible.

In response to this, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced in the 2016 Australian Budget a new regulatory scheme to tackle tax avoidance. In a move in uenced by the UK’s ‘Google Tax’, Australian companies caught transferring pro ts off shore will face a penalty rate of 40% as opposed to the ordinary 30%. This will target multinational corporations and wealthy individuals with a team of 1000 tax avoidance specialistsat the Australian Taxation Office. Although this move seems completely necessary given the current climate of taxation scrutiny following Panama, the tax is also a fundamentally passive political move. Rather than delving into serious policy reform, it seems the Budget is reflecting nothing more than a likeable policy move to win the Australian public.

With the Federal Election coming up this winter, it is clear this government has an ulterior motive in presenting such reforms. The Budget introduced agreeable reforms to keep the every-day vote appeased. In targeting large multinational corporations and elite individuals, the Budget sought conservative ways to justify tax cuts. It is questionable how the Australian public will receive these proposals, with many of them toeing the line between conservative and passive too significantly to shift public opinion in any way. If the government is genuine about taking a stand against tax avoidance by the elite, they need more serious policy reform than the creation of a taskforce. Otherwise, this will remain to appear as merely an appeal to working class Australians.

LSS Events: The Revolution that Never Was: Law Ball 2016

Harry MacLaurin

It’s the most lavish, resplendent social event on the College of Law calendar. Law Ball.The annual opportunity for students to adorn themselves in their finest attire, to dine over the most exquisite mass-produced two-course cuisine, and be regaled with tales of classmates over one of the most generous beverage packages of all the Society balls. Tickets are feverishly sought after and are sold-out as fast as your average tutorial sign-up. Despite their prices – which tting with the splendour of the event, are also extravagant – Law Balls consistently attract unparalleled interest. And with glamorous venues, luxurious table ornaments, live music and endlessly owing champagne, Law Ball is always a night to remember. For many decades, Law Ball has been the jewel in the Law Student Society’s (LSS) crown. It has become an inherent responsibility of the LSS Events Vice President to host this glittering yearly event, and justly it has become the most expensive item on the LSS budget. While the cost and format of the ball has been unquestioningly acceded to by committees-gone-by, this year there was a spanner thrown into the works.

As the LSS does not publish its minutes from its committee meetings (full disclosure: a practice for which I am partly to blame), the uninvolved law student has little idea about the mysterious goings-on inside their representative Society. With Facebook posts, emails and, of course, Peppercorn magazine the main modes of communication, the student cohort were largely unaware of the challenge that had befallen their cherished Ball.

Having flagged this debate at an earlier committee meeting, Social Director Kirsty Dale stood against the tide of accepted wisdom and raised underlying concerns that the Ball is expensive, exclusive and inaccessible. For a university as progressive as the ANU, she said, why do we persist with this antiquated event in its present form? Her concerns were legitimate. Many people had expressed pessimism in the past at the prospect of forking out over $120 for a ticket. Moreover, with last years’ table book- ing asco, many could not even sit with their friends. Kirsty believes the expense and limited number of tickets available restrict many students from attending, given not everyone gets support from their parents while studying, with many students working a number of jobs to support themselves.

Kirsty was instead proposing to turn Law Ball into a stand-up cocktail event, which in the scheme of things, was a fundamental alteration of the traditional event. Her rationale was simple: having no tables nor sit-down dinners would reduce ticket costs and allow up to 800 people to attend, as opposed to 680. She identi ed that there would be less ticketing issues, people could attend in smaller groups and the food might be better as canapes would be served which are easier to prepare in bulk. The criticisms were predictable: it would be a less formal event, people would look forward to sitting on tables with their friends, few other balls do a sit down meal, people would get sore feet, Law Ball’s reputation would go downhill, and the ball is a tradition.

The counter arguments were just as predictable: it would be no less formal because you can still dress up, there is greater opportunity to mingle standing up, the LSS Social Justice event is already a sit down meal, there would still be seats for people to sit if they got sore, people would still buy tickets, and ‘traditions are made to be subverted’. The mood was tense. No one wanted to say they were in support of something labelled exclusive and inaccessible for fear of being politically incorrect. However no one wanted to throw away the traditions of Law Ball either.

Ultimately the final decision came down to practical considerations. There were safety concerns with 800 people swarming over a canape dish. How many venues can host 800? Would there still be busses? And most importantly, how different would the cost be? As it turns out, the costings indicated that a stand up event with 800 people would only cost about $11 difference compared to the sit down event. Despite Dan McNamara’s claim that $11 means a lot for a person supporting themselves, he was fooling no one considering a Quarter Pounder meal with bacon costs more.

The committee put the matter to a vote and Kirsty’s proposal was easily defeated. An audible sigh of relief was heard. The insurrection had been stopped and the Law Ball was safe once more. Such revolutionary ideas would be shelved for the foreseeable future, doomed to failure at future discussions. Yet the debate was now out in the open. The Law Ball tradition was no longer beyond reproach. And while this years’ Ball will be as dazzling and grandiose as always, the need for inclusivity and accessibility will perhaps sit at the back of committee members’ minds as they indulge in dessert. Let them eat cake!

Women in Law Organisation

Mara Lejins, Ruth Parsons, Hannah Cameron and Emily Langford — Co-founders of WILO


‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women’ – Madeleine Albright

The Women in Law Organization (‘WILO’) is a student-run mentoring program for female undergraduates beginning next semester. The program will pair female law students with professional women in the legal sector, as a means to empower and develop women studying law.

Although women represent more than half of law graduates, the course of female law careers do not re ect this positive trajectory. Female law graduates earn 4% less than their male colleagues, and as their careers progress; women are signi cantly underrepresented in senior legal roles. The Law Council of Australia recently released a Model Equal Opportunity Briefing Policy, which highlighted the need to promote programs with female mentors and role models.

WILO not only seeks to build relationships between students and professional role models, but also to increase interactions between motivated female law students. Our university peers will likely be the professionals we interact with in our future careers. Relationships with other law students can be a source of support, friendship, and mutual assistance.

The Mentoring Program will begin next semester. WILO has already started sending out mentoring applications to the private sector, the public service and smaller enterprises around Canberra.

We are always keen to hear from prospective mentors. Mentors will meet with mentees at least twice during the semester and attend our celebratory cocktail party at the end of semester.

We will begin taking applications from mentees via an online form on the LSS website, and applications will likely close in Week 2 next semester. Students applying to the program should have an interest in pursuing the legal profession after graduation or an interest in learning more about a career in law. Successful applicants must be prepared to enter into a respectful and reciprocal relationship with a mentor.

Once our mentees have been selected, we will have an introductory cocktail party in Week 3. Cathie Armour, ASIC Commissioner, will be our guest speaker and will talk on the importance of female mentoring. This event will also serve as a means for our mentees to get to know each other, and begin the exciting journey that is WILO.

Further information will be available on the LSS website shortly, or alternatively we can be contacted on or through the LSS email. We look forward to the commencement of this exciting program and we hope that it will develop into a pillar of the LSS.

Experience: the Mooties

Dan Trevanion

Last summer I was part of the ANU 2016 Jessup Moot team. The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is in its 57th year in 2016. It is the world’s largest mooting competition, with participants from more than 550 law schools in 80 countries. Teams compete in regional qualifying competitions in a bid to advance to the International Rounds held in Washington.

What is it like to be part of Jessup? Jessup was a collection of events that on their own are miserable and unbearable yet together form an experience so meaningful and exceptional that I would do it all again. Our preparation began in November 2015 after exams ffinished. We worked solidly throughout the summer with 24 hour access to the law library except a short break over Christmas as the library was fumigated. Collaboratively, we completed two written memorials of about 12,000 words each ar- guing each side of the case by mid-January. Next, we had about 20 practice moots with our coaches and guest judges over 3 weeks to prepare for the national rounds in early February.

This was in many ways your typical group assign- ment experience mixed with some fire and brimstone. I met most of my team for the first time just before exams. We broke the ice over 2 for 1 pizza at Debacle that night then forgot about each other until exams were over a month later. We divided the problem five-ways. Then spent the next few weeks silently (for the most part) tolerating each other’s most obnoxious study habits. As the deadline for submissions drew nearer the calls to check out the latest YouTube clip became less frequent.Our arguments and critique became louder and more pronounced. The nights became longer – if you think academics have a cushy lifestyle I can testify that they roam the library at 1am. It was by any measure a terrible way to be spending my summer holidays.

Any description of Jessup must include these mis- erable and unbearable moments. These moments are shared drunkenly by all competitors on the last day of competition at Mooseheads. But there are also the exceptional moments that are unique and meaningful to me. When I first walked into my FAL tutorial room I didn’t realise five years later it would be my safe haven when I needed a break. I also never thought that the ‘freshest’ meal to eat over the summer would be a McDonald’s salad. When someone mentions a pomodoro I think of study not a tomato. When I walk to a particular corner of the High Court I will remember five students and two academic staff in a football huddle ring up for our last moot as UQ shoot us quizzical glances.

I’ve now presented submissions in the High Court of Australia, travelled to Washington to compete among 136 other teams, and all while receiving support and email chains from friends, family and ANU College of Law staff that made us feel like an Australian representative sport team. Never has such a collection of miserable events become something as meaningful and unique an experience as Jessup.

Even now I can picture my team reading this, some rolling their eyes, others editing my writing. Each of us is moving on to different paths in our lives; one of us to The Hague, another Italy, another Yale. But each of us shares a unique and meaningful experience in Jessup. I would do it all again and you should try it too.

Applications for the ANU Jessup Team open around September. Keep an eye out for information sessions. For more information contact Kate Ogg or Imogen Saunders.

Juris Doctor Online

Olivia Sparrow

The law school has recently introduced the JDO – a Juris Doctor degree wholly delivered online. Teaching has just begun, however there’s been a bit of a backlash since the announcement, particularly from the postgraduate community on campus. Queries abound of ‘Do I still have to get up for 9am lectures?’ ‘But what is this crazy new technology?’ ‘Won’t this dilute the reputation of my degree?’ ‘Will they have to still pay the student and amenities fees?’ So here’s the rough breakdown.

The JDO will give online students the same qualification as on-campus JDs, so everyone will end up with a Juris Doctor at the end. The ‘O’ part is merely short-hand for the law faculty to differentiate between the students. The faculty insists that the new degree will not detract from the current on-campus version; it will instead allow students who would be otherwise unable to study postgrad law, i.e. those who can’t pick up and move to Canberra (or any other university town that offers the JD).

However, there are gaping inconsistencies between the two degrees. The JDO will be delivered in an entirely different style. Classes will be delivered in small ‘webinars’ (whyyyy does this word exist) with far fewer students than tutorials and seminars on campus. There won’t be lectures. Rather, the JDO classes start with a ‘trigger question’ to prompt discussion and research – a complex and multi-faceted problem with the aim of students learning content in collaboration and through the lens of the question. This combination of online delivery with trigger questions is purportedly a world ffirst. But does it mean that on-campus students could be disadvantaged with their larger class sizes and conservative teaching delivery?

Additionally, JDO courses differ from those on-campus. Taught according to a ‘tri-cluster’ system (i.e. all subjects underpinned by concepts of FAL, legal theory and LJE), subjects are combined to be more logical for legal practice, such as torts and litigation, equity and corps. The theory is that students will gain a broader and more practical understanding, and avoid that pesky ‘you’ll learn that when you’re older’ answer. While these subjects will be differentiated from the on-campus subjects with different titles and course codes, they’re no longer comparable to the on-campus subjects. It’s problematic that the faculty insists that online students are getting the same degree while studying completely different subjects, whether or not the students ultimately achieve the same outcomes.

Finally, JDO students will have to pay the same amount as on-campus students, despite discrep- ancies in the forms of course delivery. Their fees will also include students and amenities, even though they’re not on-campus to enjoy most of them. There will also be issues with representation of JDO students by organisations such as PARSA and the LSS, who currently feel unable to adequately communicate and engage with this new online community.

As Education Director, I think online delivery of the JD could be an accessible and inclusive option for people who can’t or don’t want the lifestyle and culture of on-campus delivery. But there are some fundamental shortcomings in the arrangements that disadvantage both on-campus and online students, as well as logical inconsistencies that haven’t been addressed by the faculty.

If you have any thoughts, contact your law reps in the LSS:, and PARSA: