Law research at UQ is primarily conducted within the TC Beirne School of Law, a global centre of research excellence that undertakes and disseminates research across a wide range of legal fields. A diverse and energetic research community makes a significant and lasting contribution to the understanding and development of law nationally and internationally; to the effectiveness of law as a discipline; and to a better understanding of its relationship with other fields.

Law research at UQ involves a wide range of stakeholders including local communities, practitioners in diverse industries, government and the international academic community. The research undertaken has a significant impact on the development, practice, and administration of the law.

Specifically, UQ is contributing to law reform at an international and national level through its input to legal processes, such as preparing submissions and representations to law reform bodies: examples include the Australian Law Reform Commission, the Attorney-General’s Department, Federal Parliamentary Standing Committees on Science and Innovation, Treaties, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Legal and Constitutional Affairs, sentencing advisory councils; State Government enquiries and committees, and government advisory groups.

These contributions are underpinned by outstanding academic achievements and recognition, including Fellows of the Australian Academy of Law, prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellows, a MacCormick Fellow, a New York University Hauser Global Fellow, a Churchill Fellow, and a Fellow of the Institute of International Banking Law and Practice.

UQ Law has a large network of global and local partners, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), and United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (UNCITRAL RCAP); internationally regarded universities such as the Universities of Oxford and Harvard; national organisations including The Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the Australian Federal Police; and local organisations such as Caxton Legal Service and the Credit Ombudsman Service Ltd.

Research occurs primarily within he Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, however law research is connected to many fields of research across UQ:

  • Schools of Business and of Economics
  • Global Change Institute
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • School of Social Science - Criminology 

UQ has particular expertise in informing legal policy and reform in the areas of: 

  • Social Justice
  • Commerce, Industry and Finance
  • Governance and Citizenship
  • Transnational and Comparative Contexts
  • Theory and Ethics
  • Resources, Energy and the Environment 

Law research in brief

  • More than 40 full-time equivalent researchers
  • A thriving postgraduate community including 50 PhD and MPhil students in 2014
  • More than 480 publications since 2008
  • More than $4.5 million in research funding since 2008
  • Collaborating internationally, nationally and locally on criminal, constitutional, economic, social and environmental issues in both Australia and the global community.
  • Research centres as well as The Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law; Australian Centre for Private Law; Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law; and the Maritime Shipping Law Unit; bring together scholars to focus on a particular area of research.

Highlights of UQ Law research

Supporting the community by promoting social justice and legislative reform 

UQ Law researchers are making an impact with socio-legal work that examines the effects of the law and legal institutions on communities and families. This research covers a spectrum of social issues such as domestic violence, disability, ageing and gender, and is used to inform policy and legislative reforms. 

An interdisciplinary UQ research project on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) has identified that the reduced culpability of individuals with FASD may not be taken into account by judicial officers in court proceedings, and can result in inappropriate sentencing outcomes. This ongoing research has already been used to support recommendations made in the House of Representatives Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee.

The UQ Human Trafficking Working Group provides comprehensive and continuing analysis of the phenomenon of human trafficking in Australia to identify the significant challenges to national and human security in Australia and the region. The group provides information and analysis of relevant international and domestic law in this field and has recently established a database of suspected instances of trafficking in persons in Australia in all its forms. 

Informing institutional development, governance and policy 

Ground-breaking research into the ways that State and Federal governments can better protect citizens’ values, beliefs and cultural practice is being used to inform institutional development, governance and policy. 

The Australian Feminist Judgments Project investigates relationships between feminist theory and practice in Australian judicial decision-making to highlight possibilities, limits and implications of a feminist approach to judging. The project will provide valuable insights for judges, lawyers and students looking for alternative ways to understand and think about law.

UQ research on the Law of Deliberative Democracy has brought together North American, Australasian, Israeli and Argentine scholars in the fields of deliberative theory and practice, and the regulation of politics and elections.  The research raises new questions about issues such as deliberative polls and citizen assemblies, to the roles of bodies such as electoral commissions in fostering debate about the structure of the rules and institutions governing politics.

The Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law is dedicated to advancing research in transnational law. 

Through research of the law of many countries, the Centre provides a comparative analysis that can be used to inform legal change and enhance mutual understanding between nations, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. This work includes an evaluation of the ways legal reform can effectively accommodate State law and Indigenous or customary law in countries with pleural legal systems. 

Critical legal research addressing issues with economic, social and environmental impacts 

UQ Law has significant research strengths in corporate regulation, insolvency law and consumer law. This critically important research is helping to bring about positive change for consumers and make it faster and easier for businesses to trade across borders.

A UQ study on consumer credit led to amendments to pre-contractual disclosure requirements under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009. A recent Commonwealth Treasury discussion paper proposing new simplified financial summary tables for all home loan, credit card and store credit contracts is largely based on the results of this study. In the Asia Pacific Region, UQ research includes a comparison of Australian and Chinese contract law with a view to promoting trade and investment between the two countries. Internationally, UQ law researchers have addressed issues surrounding commerce to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

UQ’s Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law and The Marine and Shipping Law Unit investigate economic, social and environmental impacts in an Australian, regional and international context to assist in the development and understanding of the law affecting some of Australia’s key industries.

The Australian Centre for Private Law provides deeper understanding of the structure, principle and policies of the private law through advanced theoretical, doctrinal, comparative, historical and empirical analysis. The work of the Centre has been influential in shaping academic and judicial thinking across a broad range of subjects and has been regularly cited by the highest courts in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.