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.

Past winners:

2014 Janine Rizzetti, ‘Judging Protection: “The Unintentional Errors of an Unlearned Magistracy”, British Guiana and Port Phillip, 1830s–40s’.

2015 James Kirby, ‘”Conditional on a Bill of Rights”:  Race and Human Rights in the Constitution of Botswana, 1960-66’.

2016 Danielle Boaz, ‘Fraud, Vagrancy and the “Pretended” Exercise of Supernatural Powers in England, South Africa, and Jamaica’.

2017, Jon Piccini, ‘”A new government with new policies and new attitudes”: The human rights ‘breakthrough’ in 1970s Australia’.

2018, Tim Calabria, T’he Bungalow and the Transformation of the “Half-Caste” Category in Central Australia: Race and Law at the Limits of a Settler Colony 1914-37′.

How to Apply

Applicants should indicate their interest in being considered for the prize to the conference conveners prior to the conference.

A final written paper of 8 000 words plus notes, in a format consistent with law&history journal style guide, should be submitted to the editor of the journal no later than 6 weeks after the annual conference.  Please include an abstract (maximum of 200 words) with your submission.

Papers will be judged by a panel appointed by the editor of law&history.

Winners are normally announced by the following April.