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David Rolph

David Rolph

David Rolph is a Professor at the University of Sydney Faculty of Law. He is the author of several books, including Reputation, Celebrity and Defamation Law (2008) and Defamation Law (2015). From 2007 to 2013, David was the editor of the Sydney Law Review, one of Australia’s leading law journals.

David Rolph on the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial

July 2023, no. 455 26 June 2023
Justice Anthony Besanko’s dismissal of Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation proceedings against a trio of mastheads – The Age, The Canberra Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald, at the time all owned by Fairfax – was a comprehensive victory for those newspapers. It was a vindication of their serious investigative journalism on matters of high public interest. And it was a devastating blow to t ... (read more)

David Rolph on Lachlan Murdoch v Crikey

June 2023, no. 454 23 May 2023
Lachlan Murdoch’s defamation proceedings against Crikey promised to be a test case on the new public interest defence. Following Murdoch’s discontinuation of his claim in April, the scope and application of the public interest defence to defamation await another appropriate vehicle. Lachlan Murdoch commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia, suing not only Private Media, the publ ... (read more)

'Proof of intention: The media implications of the Voller case' by David Rolph

October 2021, no. 436 22 September 2021
In early September, the High Court of Australia handed down its decision in Fairfax Media Publications v Voller. The case attracted significant public attention in Australia due to the high profile of the plaintiff. It also attracted not only national but international attention, due to the nature of the central issue: are media outlets liable for the comments posted on their public Facebook pages ... (read more)

David Rolph reviews 'The Coddling of the American Mind' by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

May 2019, no. 411 22 April 2019
In 1987, Allan Bloom published his best-selling book, The Closing of the American Mind. The American mind must have remained sufficiently open to allow it, three decades hence, to be coddled. The mind that is being closed or coddled is, in the first instance, the young adult mind in its formative stage – at university. Cultural anxiety about what is going on at universities is nothing new. The l ... (read more)

David Rolph reviews 'Religious Freedom and the Australian Constitution: Origins and future' by Luke Beck

August 2018, no. 403 26 July 2018
The role of religion in public life in Australia has become a prominent issue again as a consequence of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. Significant opposition to the passage of marriage equality in 2017 was due to the mobilisation of many faiths and denominations. The centrality of religion in the marriage equality debate is best demonstrated by the title of the legislation amending the ... (read more)

David Rolph reviews 'Ma’am Darling: Ninety-nine glimpses of Princess Margaret' by Craig Brown

May 2018, no. 401 02 March 2018
My earliest memory of Princess Margaret is flicking through my grandmother’s copy of The Australian Women’s Weekly and seeing photographs of a middle-aged woman, in huge sunglasses and a colourful kaftan, on a tropical island. I surmised she was famous but did not know why. My grandmother explained, somewhat primly, that she was the queen’s sister and left it at that. To young eyes, the woma ... (read more)

David Rolph reviews 'The Tim Carmody Affair: Australia’s greatest judical crisis' by Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, Gabrielle Appleby, and Andrew Lynch

November 2016, no. 386 24 October 2016
With a few notable exceptions (Michael Kirby springs to mind), judges in Australia do not have a high public profile. Many non-lawyers would struggle to name a judge currently serving on an Australian court. The lack of public profile is not really a problem. In fact, it should be viewed as a benefit. What judges do should be more important than who judges are. Publicity about what goes on in open ... (read more)

'The debate over 18C' by David Rolph

October 2016, no. 385 23 September 2016
It is not often that a legislative provision leaves the pages of the statute books and enters everyday conversation. Statutory interpretation rarely enters public consciousness. Yet this has been achieved by section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). It is easily the most famous statutory provision in Australia. The debate about 18C shows no signs of going away. Controversial at its ... (read more)

David Rolph reviews 'Closet Queens' by Michael Bloch

January-February 2016, no. 378 23 December 2015
With marriage equality becoming the norm in Western countries (though, signally, not in Australia), it may be tempting to forget how recent and rapid and seemingly decisive changes in the legal treatment of, and social attitudes towards, homosexuality have been. The death of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu in late August 2015 marked the passing of the last living public figure prosecuted for homosexual o ... (read more)

David Rolph reviews 'Australia Under Surveillance' by Frank Moorhouse

September 2015, no. 374 26 August 2015
Operating in the shadows, security agencies usually have indifferent reputations. Their very nature prevents them from fully explaining themselves. At least some of their activities, if exposed to full scrutiny, would not enhance their reputations. There is a need for security agencies, yet the nature and scope of their role, powers, and responsibilities are contestable. In addition, the closed an ... (read more)
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