Workshop: The Future of the Criminal Law – Law School: Events Workshop: The Future of the Criminal Law – Law School: Events

Workshop: The Future of the Criminal Law

Workshop: The Future of the Criminal Law

In-person event

In the current moment, it is little exaggeration to say the criminal law, and criminal justice more broadly, is in crisis. In liberal legal systems such as that of NSW and other Australian jurisdictions, the idea of a minimalist criminal law (which maximises liberty for individuals) remains a cornerstone principle, but criminal offences have likely never been so numerous. At the same time, questions about the efficacy of our laws loom large, with issues such as gender-based violence, terrorism, and bullying presenting as ‘wicked problems’ that seem to both demand and resist solution through the criminal law. In addition, moral pluralism belies easy assumptions about the extent of social support for criminal laws, and the role of the criminal law in perpetuating disadvantage for First Nations peoples makes plain its central place in the long shadow of colonialism. In the context of criminal justice, concerns about the operation of the law in relation to policing of young people and those with mental illnesses, the purpose and contours of bail laws, prosecutorial independence, and coordination between states and territories deepen and expand these problems.

Against this background, what is the future of the criminal law? Given the fracturing that has occurred across the criminal law field – from orthodox offences and defences to novel constructions with deeming provisions and reverse burdens – does criminal law remain a coherent field? If not, what do multiple domains of doctrine share, and what limits the scope of the laws? With victim/survivors and advocates and others telling us what doesn’t work, is it possible that the criminal law of the future will be reconstructed, and more circumscribed, than it is at present?

This workshop invites participants to engage in a wide-ranging discussion about the future of the criminal law. The workshop will be structured around three sets of discussions:

  1. Technology and Justice (Chair: Dr Carolyn McKay): Digitalisation has been described as the defining characteristic of 21st century society and its processes are radically transforming the criminal justice system. How do scholars, activists and others respond empirically, conceptually and epistemologically to the role of digital technologies in criminality, control, courts and punishment?
  2. Legal Convergence (Chair: Professor Thomas Crofts): It is increasingly common for jurisdictions to compare and draw on approaches in other jurisdictions when reforming criminal law and criminal law practices. What are the challenges and possibilities of borrowing from the criminal law of other jurisdictions? What does this mean for the future of criminal law? Will this lead to convergence of criminal law on shared social issues?
  3. Legitimacy in Decision-Making and Knowledge Coordination (Chair: Professor Arlie Loughnan): Massive growth in expert knowledges relevant to criminal law decision-making challenges every aspect of criminal law, from law reform, to responsibility attribution and evaluation and adjudication in particular cases. How is the criminal law responding to changes in knowledge conditions? What do they mean for authority and coherence of criminal law?


Friday 28 June 2024

Time: 10am-2pm

Venue: The University of Sydney, Level 1, Law Lounge, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown

CPD Points: TBC

This event is being held in-person at Sydney Law School.


This event is proudly presented by the Sydney Institute of Criminology at the University of Sydney Law School.


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Jun 28 2024


10:00 am - 2:00 pm

More Info



Law Lounge, Level 1
New Law Building Annex (F10A), Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney (Camperdown Campus)


Professional Learning & Community Engagement
02 9351 0248

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