Announcement of Brennan Prize Winner: Jack McNally, ‘Restrictions on the Freedom of Navigation in the Northern Sea Route: Implications for Arcticus Liberum’

The Australian Branch of the International Law Association is pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 Brennan Essay Prize in Public International Law. The Brennan Prize is named for Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE QBS QC, former Chief Justice of Australia and Patron of the Branch. Sir Gerard was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1981 and appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to the law in 1988.

The winner of the 2021 Brennan Prize is Jack McNally, for his paper ‘Restrictions on the Freedom of Navigation in the Northern Sea Route: Implications for Arcticus Liberum’. Mr McNally is a final year Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student at the University of New South Wales. He currently works as a Research Assistant at UNSW Law, where his research focusses on public international law, the law of the sea and international dispute settlement, and as a Law Clerk in the International Arbitration Group of King & Wood Mallesons. The Australian Branch of the International Law Association expresses its congratulations to Mr McNally on his successful entry.

Mr McNally

The abstract for the paper is included below:

The freedom of navigation is one of the fundamental principles of international order. However, as the effects of anthropogenic climate change grow greater and the extent of Arctic sea ice continues to decline, a question arises as to whether, and to what degree, the freedom of navigation applies in formerly ice-covered areas. This question is not an abstract one. Arctic States have asserted extensive sovereign rights over formerly ice-covered shipping routes, imposing restrictions on the freedom of navigation of both merchant vessels and warships. Whether these restrictions are valid impositions on the freedom of navigation is an unresolved question, complicated by the genuine interests of littoral States in the protection of the Arctic’s highly sensitive marine environment. If, however, these restrictions are acquiesced in by the international community, they may operate to restrict the freedom of navigation and diminish its content in formerly ice-covered areas. Accordingly, there is a need for States to strike a balance between permitting restrictions on the freedom of navigation that pursue environmental protection, while contesting those that exceed what is permitted under international law. This article seeks to provide the necessary legal framework to enable States to undertake that balancing exercise and to, in turn, ensure the Arctic remains mare liberum.

Announcement of Nygh Prize Winner: Michael Douglas, ‘Does Choice of Law Matter?’

The Australian Branch of the International Law Association is pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 Nygh Essay Prize in Private International Law. This prize is named in honour of the late Dr Peter Nygh AM, a leading Australian scholar of private international law and former President of the Branch. Dr Nygh was a judge of the Family Court of Australia, a member of Australia’s first delegation to, and played an integral role in, The Hague Conference on Private International Law and was awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian Government as well as the Order of Australia, partly in recognition of his outstanding and longstanding contribution to private international law, and in particular his representation of Australia at The Hague Conference.

The winner of the 2021 Nygh Prize is Michael Douglas for his paper ‘Does Choice of Law Matter?’ Mr Douglas is completing his PhD in private international law at Sydney Law School. He works as an academic at UWA Law School and in a litigation firm in Perth. The Australian Branch of the International Law Association expresses its congratulations to Mr Douglas on his successful entry.

The abstract for the paper is included below:

We ought to rethink how we understand the conflict of laws in Australia with respect to forum statutes. Views which may be orthodox in conflict of laws scholarship no longer align to the proper treatment of forum statutes in cross-border civil litigation in Australian courts. Statutory interpretation is of primary importance in determining issues in cross-border litigation before Australian courts involving forum statutes. As most cases involve statutes, statutory interpretation is thus of primary importance to most cross-border litigation. This approach is statutist, in that, like the statutism of centuries ago, it favours interpretation as the method to determine issues of territorial scope of law. It also follows in the tradition of Currie’s governmental interest analysis in that it favours the interests of forum institutions in resolution of questions in cases with a foreign element. Choice of law, in the traditional sense of its traditional techniques, still matters. But statutory interpretation matters more in the actual life of the law. This ought to be embraced by scholars and teachers. Perhaps then the realm of the conflict of laws will be less dismal, less mysterious and more comprehensible to those who understand the law better than many of those in the ivory tower: actual lawyers.

Mr Douglas

Call for Submissions: Brennan and Nygh Prizes

The ILA (Australia Branch) is calling for submissions for the Brennan Essay Prize in Public International Law and the Nygh Essay Prize in Private International Law.

The prizes are awarded for essays that demonstrate outstanding scholarship and make a distinct contribution to the field of public international law and private international law (conflict of laws), respectively. Submissions must be sent to by no later than 1 July 2021.

More details are available on the leaflet below.

ILA Update: Peter Nygh Hague Conference Internship

The International Law Association (Australian Branch) and the Australian Association of International Affairs are delighted to announce that Nicole Sims, the 2020 Peter Nygh Hague Conference Intern, has been appointed Legal Officer at The Hague Conference on Private International Law for a period of 12 months. 

Nicole will commence work as Legal Officer in July 2020 after completing her internship.  After spending a large part of her internship working from her home in The Hague due to COVID-19, Nicole is back in The Hague Conference office and is looking forward to having a chance to stay in the Hague and have ‘the proper experience’.  She will be working mostly with previous Peter Nygh Hague Conference Intern, Brody Warren, on a portfolio related to legal cooperation, litigation, international commercial law and family law.  Nicole was appointed as Legal Officer following a competitive interview process and her selection reflects her excellent work as the Peter Nygh Hague Conference Intern.

Ms. Sins, pictured at The Hague Conference on Private International Law

Read More

Reminder: Call for Papers and Posters, ILA 79th Biennual Conference, Kyoto 2020

This is a reminder to readers of the ILA Reporter that the deadline for abstracts for papers and posters for the International Law Association’s 79th Biennual Conference to be held in Kyoto, Japan from 23 August 2020 to 27 August 2020 is 20 February 2020.

The theme of the Conference is ‘Bridging for the Future’. Papers may be submitted on any area of public or private international law, preferably on a topic related to the main theme. The Conference seeks to bridge the past, present and future, and connect the East, West, North and South, with a view to enhancing mutual understanding on diverse values, cultures and religions, and fostering new ideas to tackle global issues such as humanitarian crisis, economic polarisation and environmental challenges.

The Conference will also hold a poster session which provides early career scholars, including PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, with an opportunity to present their research activities as a poster at the Conference. There will then be opportunities during the Conference for poster-presenters to explain their research and participate in discussions with attendees. Posters may be submitted on any area of public or private international law, preferably on a topic related to the main theme.

The program will be finalised later this year but at present, includes panels on inter-State litigation and international trade law; the law of the sea; new and emerging areas like space law, the international law of the Arctic and the law of cyberspace; and a special panel on Asian Judges at the World Court in honour of Judge Mineitciro Adatci.

For more details, contact the Conference organisers at or visit the Conference website at

Call for Applications: Media Officer of the International Law Association (Australian Branch)

The International Law Association (Australian Branch) (ILA (AB)) is currently recruiting for a new Media Officer. The role of Media Officer is a voluntary position. The Officer will be responsible for maintaining and growing the online presence of the ILA (AB) through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Candidates will be in their penultimate or final year of a law degree, graduates or young lawyers. A double degree with Law and Media, or prior experience in managing an organisation or society’s social media accounts is an advantage but not essential. Candidates also should have a strong interest in international law.

To apply, send a copy of your CV and academic transcript to before 5:00 pm (AEST) on Friday 18 October 2019. Please also include a 150-word statement of interest. This may include details of relevant experience, and ideas for the role.

Full details are available here.

Upcoming ILA Events of Interest

Readers of the ILA Reporter may be interested in the following upcoming events in the International Law Association’s global calendar.

The ILA Regional Conference will be held in Braga, Portugal on 19 and 20 September 2019. The theme of the Conference is the contribution of the case law of international courts and tribunals to the development of international law. The Conference is hosted at the University of Minho School of Law and the keynote speech of the Conference will be given by Judge Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade of the International Court of Justice. For more details and to register, visit the Conference website.

The London Conference on International Law will be held on 3 and 4 October 2019. The Conference will be hosted at the Barbican Centre and speakers include Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf of the International Court of Justice, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Baroness Hale of Richmond and Dame Rosalyn Higgins GBE QC. For more details, visit the Conference website. There is currently a waitlist for registrations.

The annual International Law Weekend is being held from 10 to 12 October 2019 in New York City. The International Law Weekend is the premier international law event of the fall season for the American Branch of the ILA and will be hosted at the New York City Bar Association and Fordham Law School. The theme of ILW 2019 is the resilience of international law, examining how international law functions in the era of growing nationalism, deepening economic inequality, climate change, advances in technology and a global migration crisis. Speakers include Judge Kimberly Prost of the International Criminal Court and ILA President Dr Christopher Ward SC. For more details and to register at the early bird rate (valid until 31 August 2019), visit the ILW website.

The biennual ILA Conference will be held in Kyoto, Japan from 23 to 27 August 2020. The theme of the Conference is ‘Bridging for the Future’. The call for papers closes 1 November 2019 and the early registration deadline is 20 May 2020. For more details, visit the Conference website or Facebook page.

For more information on the ILA’s international events, consider following the ILA on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Did the War on Iran Just Begin? The Use and Abuse of International Law in the Strait of Hormuz – Natalie Klein

Over the last month, the world has witnessed a series of tit-for-tat maneuvers involving Iran, the United States and the United Kingdom. Sitting amidst the strategic and political stakes are complex questions of international law. Claims of ‘state piracy’ and proposing convoys in the Strait of Hormuz now appear to be contributing to the tension rather than facilitating the resolution of competing claims.

Read More

Call for Submissions – Melbourne Journal of International Law

The Editors of the Melbourne Journal of International Law (‘MJIL’) are now inviting submissions for volume 20(2). The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2019.

MJIL is a peer-reviewed academic journal based at the University of Melbourne and publishes innovative scholarly research and critical examination of issues in international law. Submissions and inquiries should be directed to For more information, please visit

The Prosecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness K: International and Regional Implications – Greg Barns

Bernard Collaery was once the Attorney-General of the Australian Capital Territory but he now finds himself seated in the dock in that jurisdiction along with his client, a former officer of the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIS), known as Witness K. Mr Collaery and Witness K have been charged with allegedly breaching section 39 of the Federal Intelligence Services Act 2001, which makes it an offence to  communicate “any information or matter that was acquired or prepared by or on behalf of ASIS in connection with its functions or relates to the performance by ASIS of its functions.” The matter is being dealt with in the ACT Magistrates Court and carries a maximum penalty of 2 years.

Read More