Sir Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History Prize

This prize is awarded for the best presentation by a higher degree research student or an early career researcher at the annual conference. This paper will be published, subject to the usual refereeing process, in law&history, the Society’s journal.

The prize is valued at AU$500 and the society wishes to acknowledge the generosity of the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History for sponsoring this prize.

Our 2019 winner is Georgina Rychner for her paper ‘Defences to intimate partner homicide: Historicising the relationship between provocation and temporary insanity in Victoria, Australia.’

The citation from judges Bettina Bradbury and Mark Lunney for the award reads as follows:

This is an excellent piece of historical work, balanced between legal explanation and cultural context linked to create an interesting, novel and compelling narrative. The article explores the history of the use of the defences of provocation and insanity in intimate partner trials for murder, tracing the use of provocation in nineteenth century England and Victoria and linking this history to changing understandings of masculinity as well as to the difficulty of establishing proof. Provocation was abolished as a defence in Victoria in 2005, yet lingers on in the ways insanity is used.  This is interesting and really important material. The link between popular and judicial conceptions of mental illness in the context of femicide  and how insanity or temporary insanity became a more widespread defence over time, is well explained and supported by contemporary references. A strength of the paper lies in its broad approach, incorporating cultural understandings and petitions for clemency and its grounding in scholarship on murder, masculinity, madness and provocation. It well deserves the award of the Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History prize for 2019.

About anzlhswebsite

The Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society was formed in 1993. It is an interdisciplinary group of scholars who share an interest in the connections between law and history. The society grew out of the annual Law in History Conferences, which have been running since 1982. Members of the society include historians, lawyers, academics and others interested in the area. Most of the members live in Australia or New Zealand, but their areas of interest are not confined to the law in those places. The society is an incorporated association in New South Wales. Inc no. 1600224
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