Project to capture cases citing Human Rights Act

A new project aims to collate and summarise all reported cases that cite Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019 (the Act), which came into effect on 1 January 2020.

The UQ/Caxton Human Rights Case Law Project has been created through a joint initiative of Professor Tamara Walsh of the University of Queensland School of Law and Caxton Legal Centre Director of Human Rights Bridget Burton.

A student team will draft casenotes for each reported case, and make them available on a public website, law.uq.edu.au/human-rights-cases.

By examining all reported cases that cite the Act, the project aims to record and evaluate the impact, interpretation and use of the Act. Specifically, the project will evaluate how human rights arguments are being litigated in Queensland, and the impact this is having on the creation of a human rights ‘culture’.

The Act has also created new duties for public entities, which is expected to be the focus of significant litigation within the human rights field. Therefore, the project hopes that the creation of a case law database will assist in charting the interpretation of the scope of those duties and the impact on public entities in Queensland.

The creation of a single case law database will assist in examining how different rights are applied and interpreted, and tracking in which areas of law successful human rights arguments are being made. This is of particular importance for Queensland, where the ‘piggy-back’ model has been adopted. This model was first introduced in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006, and requires that human rights claims be ‘piggy-backed’ onto another cause of action. A ‘standalone’ complaint can only be made to the Queensland Human Rights Commission for conciliation.

The project aims to enable researchers to compare and contrast human rights decisions in Queensland with those in other jurisdictions, especially Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, which also have specific human rights legislation.

The caselaw database will be an accessible resource for legal practitioners, academics and the general public. Inquiries can be directed to humanrights@uq.edu.au.

Article prepared by project team members Elizabeth Aisi, Tulli Seton and Linden Peacock.

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