Constitutional Law Assignment


LENGTH: 2000 words. Please note that you must not exceed 2000 words.

The case below is the case to be used.

Commonwealth v Tasmania (1983) 158 CLR 1

You are required to write a case study of the case. The case study should be written in essay format. For the purposes of the case study, you need to:

1) Set out succinctly and clearly the facts and legal issues of the case.

2) Explain the High Court reasoning in the case. You should cover the reasoning of both the majority and minority judges. Please provide an opinion on whether the reasoning in the judgments was appropriate or persuasive and why.
3) Explain the significance of the case for the development of constitutional law.
4) Explain the political and/or social significance of the case. Here you could also consider whether the High Court judges took the political and/or social significance of their decision into consideration in their judgment/s.


Firstly read the section/s of the textbook and study guide in which the case is discussed. This will help you put the case in context, in terms of where it sits in constitutional law. You can also read extracts on the case from other constitutional law textbooks.

Then find the case online and read it. Note that the AGLC recommends that you use CLR references where available in citing cases. You can download the CLR reports from the Westlaw AU database, which you can access via the library website.

Constitutional law cases are complex and long and you may find it difficult to work out what the judges are saying. Over the years the High Court judges have developed more accessible and structured judgment writing styles but the reasoning in these cases can still be very difficult to understand, particularly when you are encountering it for the first time. Keep in mind that you are writing a 2000 word essay and that explaining the reasoning is only one part of what you have to do. You need to be able to work out what is important and significant about the case and look for the paragraphs in each judgment in which this is covered. Then you should summarise this reasoning and think about whether the reasoning is appropriate. Do you agree with the decision? Why or why not? Do you think that the judges should have taken other factors into account? You may conclude that the reasoning of the minority judges is more persuasive or appropriate and if so you should explain this.

There is a lot of academic commentary on constitutional law cases and this will help you with this task. Make sure that you reference as required if you are using this commentary in your case study.

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