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Title: The Practical administration of justice: The adaptation of English law to colonial customs and circumstances, as reflected in Sir James Dowling's 'Select Cases' of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, 1828 to 1844.
Contributor(s): Castle, Timothy (author)
Publication Date: 2004
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Abstract: James Dowling was a remarkable, although greatly overlooked figure of early colonial New South Wales. A genial and popular Irishman, he practised as a barrister and law reporter in England before being appointed as the third judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1828, and as its second Chief Justice in 1836. From the many thousands of cases contained in the 268 note-books which he filled during his sixteen years as a judge, Dowling selected 455 cases for publication under the name 'Select Cases in the Supreme Court of New South Wales') The 'Select Cases' might have been the colony's first set of law reports, but Dowling failed to publish them, and his sondecided against doing so, believing they had 'no value' as legal precedent. That decision contributed to Dowling's relative anonymityin the historical literature....This article focuses on the 'Select Cases', which provide a remarkable insight into the customs and expectations of life in colonial New South Wales, and how they differed from those in England, and how these differences were reflected in the development of a distinct Australian common law. Identification and resolution of these differences was one of the fundamental concerns of the Supreme Court in the period from 1828 to 1844. As the only judge during that period with no prior colonial experience, Dowling was well qualified to perceive the conflicts that arose between English law and colonial practices, and to record the ways in which the Supreme Court resolved those conflicts.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Australian Colonial History, v.5, p. 47-72
Publisher: University of New England
Place of Publication: Armidale
ISSN: 1441-0370
Field of Research (FOR): 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Other Links:;dn=200412107;res=APAFT
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