James Morgan wins the Law Foundation of South Australia’s Law & Justice Essay Prize

James and Margaret Nyland

Recent law graduate James Morgan (formerly James Goh) has won the Law & Justice Essay Prize from the Law Foundation of South Australia. James’s prize winning essay entitled ‘Securing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s Independence: Tenure and Mechanisms of Appointment’ had originally been written for the Public Law Internship elective (now Law and Justice Internship).

The award was presented by Justice Kelly, Chair of the Law Foundation, and Margaret Nyland, with various other members of the judiciary and profession also in attendance. When presenting the award, Ms Nyland quoted extensively from the Note of Commendation written by course coordinator Cornelia Koch that states, inter alia:

‘Mr Goh considers in his paper possible reforms to the mechanisms of appointing members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (‘AAT’), in order to secure the AAT’s independence from inappropriate influence. His interest in this area arose from his Public Law Internship with the AAT during the second semester of 2017. His internship commenced at a tumultuous time for the AAT’s membership — in the midst of mass media criticism of the AAT for reversing a large number of government migration decisions, and an unprecedented number of AAT members being denied reappointment, seemingly as a direct result.

His essay contends that the current mechanism of appointment for AAT members exposes the AAT to a risk of inappropriate influence from the government of the day. In particular, he expresses concerns that the reappointment discretion functionally lies with Cabinet, who frequently have significant stakes in the merits review decisions of the AAT — rendering a member’s prospects of reappointment dependent on the government of the day’s goodwill. With reference to academic material regarding the tenure and appointment of tribunal members, Mr Goh goes on to examine several possible reforms to resolve this issue, and develops an original argument regarding the implementation of an independent reappointment committee for the AAT.

[…] In my view, his paper was one of the best student essays that I have ever marked. It is very well written and researched, shows much confidence in dealing with complex and politically charged issues and makes an original argument. For these reasons I recommend his paper for the Law and Justice Essay Prize.’

Beyond winning this prize, James’s essay will also be published in the forthcoming edition of the Alternative Law Journal.

James is about to commence a Judge’s Associateship at the Supreme Court of South Australia and Adelaide Law School congratulates him on his success.

Photos: James and Justice Kelly.



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