How effective are case studies? 

Case studies aim to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and critical thinking skills in relation to the Australian legal system, as well as its effectiveness in promoting a just and fair society by capturing a range of perspectives.  Their purpose aim is to foster engagement in students and have them grow up insisting that rule of law principles are important and must be protected and maintained.

The Rule of Law Education Centre is committed to educating teachers, students and the broader community about rule of law principles with the ultimate aim of creating active, engaged Australian and global citizens.  If people do not know what the rule of law is or what it means to them, then that is exactly why it must be taught, and from an early age.  Rule of law principles are important for all Australians to value and uphold, not just during their thirteen years of formal education, but for life.

Case Studies

1. Crime Case Studies

Kathleen Folbigg Case Note

Once labelled Australia’s “most hated woman” and “worst female serial killer” after being found guilty of  killing her 4 young children – Caleb, Patrick, Sarah, and Laura – over a period of 10 years. Kathleen Folbigg (‘Folbigg’) was unconditionally pardoned by Governor Margaret Beazely and released from prison on June 5,2023, following 20 years in jail. This case note will analyse elements of the investigation, coronial inquests and murder trial, including the successive appeals and judicial inquiries into her conviction. Click here for the casenote and here for the Procedural History and timeline.

(Photo Credit: SMH)

Chris Dawson Case Note

The unsolved case regarding the disappearance over 40 year ago of Lynette Dawson became the subject of a globally acclaimed podcast ‘The Teacher’s Pet.’  As a result of media attention, the case was reopened and her husband at the time, Chris Dawson was found guilty of murder in 2022 by a judge alone trial. Click here.

(Photo Credit:ABC News

Love v Commonwealth; Thoms v Commonweath

This controversial majority decision of (4:3) in the Australian High Court, found that the ‘aliens’ power under section 51 (xi) did not apply to non-citizen Aboriginal Australians because they are subject to a new category of ‘non-citizen, no-alien’. Click here.

(Photo Credit: ABC)

Kulwinder Singh Case Note

The Crown alleged that Mr Singh had poured accelerant on his wife, Kaur, deliberately setting her alight with the intention of causing her serious harm, if not death.   This case note looks at the presumption of innocence, evidence, the role of juries to deliver fair outcomes and whether justice is achieved when the accused is acquitted after a lengthy period of time. Click here.

(Photo Credit: SMH)

Keli Lane Case Note

What was the law behind the Keli Lane Case? What did the evidence say? What was the role of the judge and jury? Why didn’t Keli Lane speak about Tegan? Why did the appeal fail? Read our case note to understand more.

(Photo Credit: ABC)

Geoffrey Rush Case Note

On 2 July 2020, Geoffrey Roy Rush was awarded a record $2.9m in damages by the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia after Nationwide News Pty Limited (“Nationwide News”) lost its appeal against a significant defamation ruling.  Mr Rush now stands as the record holder for the largest defamation payout to an individual in Australia.  Click here.

(Photo Credit: ABC)

Skaf Case Note

Brothers Bilal and Mohammed Skaf, dubbed the ‘Skaf Rapists’, were involved in a number of gang rapes across Sydney in the early 2000s.  Mohammed Skaf’s recent release on parole on October 6, 2021, after 22 years in prison, has reignited a media debate about the adequacy of his sentence and whether he should have been allowed out into society on parole. Click here

(Photo Credit: SMH)

Baden-Clay Case Note

The trial of Gerard Baden-Clay for the murder of his wife Allison in 2012 was one of the most high-profit murder investigations and trials in the history of Queensland. This case note considers the criminal justice process and what processes exist to ensure a fair trial and how the law addresses the expectations of victims and community in achieving a just outcome.  Click here.

(Photo Credit: SMH)

Claremont Serial Killings

Claremont Serial Killing Case note looks at beyond reasonable doubt, propensity evidence and the rule of law.  Click here.


(Photo Credit: ABC)

Pell v Queen

A Case Summary the highlighting relevant rule of law principles such as beyond reasonable doubt and quotations from the case. Click here


2. Topical Case Studies

Media and Social Media 

The influence of media and social media on the justice process, from investigation to post trial outcomes. Media can directly impact the presumption of innocence, fair and prompt trials, and free and open criticism.  Click here.


Technology and the Law

Case studies an multiple resources to assist in teaching the topic area of technology and the law, including recent law reform.  Click here.


Penalties for Breaching Covid-19 Restrictions in WA

Supreme Court of WA considered the penalties of breaking COVID directions after an unnamed woman was convicted for breaching Quarantine orders while picnicking with her terminally ill father. Click here.


Legal Literacy

A resource to guide students through the ILAC legal literacy scaffold. Includes examples of legal issues and activities to develop and practice their reasoning skills. Click here. 


Bail Laws

How are bail decisions made in NSW? What is the case law and what is the role of bail in NSW criminal justice system. Click here 


Human Rights- Cultural Burial and Migration

New Human Rights teaching resource on Cultural Burial Practices and Migration. Click here.


Organised Crime

Our 2017 resource that outlines law reform responses to Organised Crime in NSW and Qld. The resource includes a case study on the VLAD laws. Click here.


Mandatory Sentencing

New Mandatory Sentencing teaching resource for NSW, includes an ‘One Punch’ case note.  Click here


Sport and the Law

An older resource on Sport and the Law but still relevant for teachers looking for ideas. Click here 


Racial Discrimination

Case studies about international and domestic legal responses to the issue of racial discrimination and human rights. Click here


The Constitution

Detailed analysis of the underlying principles of the Constitution, separation of powers, division of powers and human rights.  Includes links to further case studies, resources and posters.  Click here.


NZYQ and the Separation of Powers

In NZYQ, the High Court considered the constitutional validity of laws that allowed the Australian Government to indefinitly detention ‘NZYQ’, an unlawful, non-citizen convicted of child sexual assault who had completed a prision sentence but, due to his criminal record and statelessness, had no reasonable prospect of deportation back to his home country or any other country.indefinitely detain unlawful immigrants.   Click here.


Love v Commonwealth; Thoms v Commonweath

This controversial majority decision of (4:3) in the Australian High Court, found that the ‘aliens’ power under section 51 (xi) did not apply to non-citizen Aboriginal Australians because they are subject to a new category of ‘non-citizen, no-alien’. Click here.


Implied Freedom of Political Communication

How does the Australian Constitution provides protections for political speech? Click here


Access to Justice

Case studies about access to justice, including the important Dietrich case along with discussion about self-represented litigants, apprehended bias and pro-bono cases.  Click here.


Retrospective Laws

Australian courts generally apply a presumption against retrospectivity; however, as the case law illustrates, it is also accepted by the courts that both State and Commonwealth Parliaments have the authority to enact retrospective laws. Click here.

The Magna Carta

Foundation document of the rule of law. How has it influenced ideas about freedom and human rights today?
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