ANZLHS Annual Prize in Legal History

Citation: ANZLHS, Annual Prize in Legal History 2022

Kathy Bowrey

Kathy Bowrey’s Copyright, Creativity, Big Media and Cultural Value: Incorporating the Author  is an ambitious and important work of scholarship.  Skilfully weaving together archival research with critical theoretical insight to probe the role of authorship in the long history of copyright, the book’s interdisciplinarity, attention to contemporary questions, and nuanced accounting of complex issues makes this an impressive work of law and history.  It is a work which is accessible, comprehensive and enjoyable to read. It is an exemplar in the way historical knowledge can be presented and engaged with so that we can better understand the world around us.

Citation: ANZLHS, Annual Prize in Legal History 2021

Amy Milka

Amy Milka’s article “Temples of Justice: The Courtroom Space in Eighteenth-Century England’, law&history, 7(2), 2020, pp.67-97 argues that concerns about legal spaces such as courtrooms in eighteenth-century England were intrinsically connected to deeper criticisms about the workings of the law. The author argues that attitudes to English court spaces were inflected by three major concerns: improvement, public access and maintaining ‘majesty’. While previous writers have discussed the poor standard of older court premises (particularly Westminster Hall) and how that affected lawyers, judges and, to a lesser extent, litigants and jurors, Milka demonstrates how the spatial contexts of the law and legal proceedings shaped law’s public image in the eighteenth century.  While previous writers have contrasted “open” “British” (or “English”) justice with the secrecy and perceived bias of European courts, it is rare indeed to see that strand of thought being placed into the context of courtroom architecture.   The article demonstrates, through the use of an exemplary range of contemporary and more recent sources, that there was public concern that the obvious deficiencies of many court buildings not only limited public access to legal spaces and the ability to see and hear legal proceedings, but reflected a disregard for the symbolic primacy of the law as an element of the constitutional liberties of the English people.   The decrepit state of some courthouses or of buildings occasionally used for court sittings is very ably contrasted with new constructions which reflected the Augustan values to which many aspired.  A particular feature of the article is the recognition of courts outside London – and of the basis for, and importance of, theatricality in the Assize courts as a way of maintaining or engendering respect for the court and its judges.   

Milka’s project is well-conceived and very well carried out. Not only is there a superb research base, but the argument is beautifully structured and presented in an extremely clear and lucid fashion. It is a pleasure to read and a real stimulus to re-evaluate much of the conventional thinking about English courts of the period. These features, in the judges’ opinion, placed this article above some other very strong entries, and made it a worthy winner of the ANZLHS prize for 2021.

Past Winners: 

2020: Amanda Nettelbeck, Indigenous Rights and Colonial Subjecthood (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

2018: Shaunnagh Dorsett, Juridical Encounters: Maori and the Colonial Courts (Auckland University Press, 2017)

2017: Mark Finnane & Andy Kaladelfos ‘Race and Justice in and Australian Court: Prosecuting Homicide in Western Australia 1830-1954’. Australian Historical Studies, 47, 2016

2016: Libby Connors for Warrior: A legendary leader’s dramatic life and violent death on the colonial frontier (Allen & Unwin, 2015)

2015: No award.

2014: Amelia Thorpe for ‘Participation in planning: Lessons from the green bans’ (2013) 30 Environmental and Planning Law Journal 93

Conditions of the Award:

The Award

  1. The Executive of the ANZLHS will award the prize to the author or authors whose published book, chapter, essay, or article has, in the judgment of the ANZLHS Executive, made the most significant contribution to the field of legal history in relation to Australasia since the award of the last prize.

Eligibility

  1. In order to be eligible authors must be a current member of the ANZLHS.
  2. Eligible authors includes those who write in the field of legal history in Australasia (broadly defined). In any cases of uncertainty as to eligibility, the decision of the Executive of the ANZLHS as to whether a work qualifies for the award is final.
  3. In order to be eligible, the award must bear a publication date of the calendar year immediately prior to the year in which the award is to be made. For example, if the award is made in 2017, the publication must bear the date 2016.

 Administration and Adjudication

  1. Nominations can be made by anyone. Nominations must be in writing. Nominations must be sent to both the current President and the current Secretary of the ANZLHS. Their email addresses can be found on the Society’s webpage.
  2. The award will be judged by the current Executive of the ANZLHS. For these purposes the Executive comprises the President, Vice-President, Australian Treasurer, New Zealand Treasurer, Immediate Past President, Secretary and the Editor of Law&History.
  3. The Executive may delegate any tasks with relation to this award to other persons.
  4. The Executive decision will be made by a majority vote and will not be open to review.
  5. Where a member of the Executive has been nominated for the award, that member will abstain from voting on the award and will not be present when the Executive is considering the nominations.
  6. The submission of nominations should be received no later than September. The award will be announced at the AGM in December. Nominations should be sent to the president, preferably by email.