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Reputations on the line in Van Diemen’s Land: A dissertation on the general theme of the Rule of Law as it emerged in a young penal colony with particular emphasis on the law of defamation

Lucadou-Wells, Rosemary (2012) Reputations on the line in Van Diemen’s Land: A dissertation on the general theme of the Rule of Law as it emerged in a young penal colony with particular emphasis on the law of defamation. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

This research focuses on the development of the jurisprudence of the infant colony of Van Diemen’s Land now known as Tasmania, with particular interest on the law of defamation.
During the first thirty years of this British penal colony its population was subject to changes. There were the soldiery, who provided the basis of government headed by a Lieutenant Governor, the indigenous people, the convicts, and gradually an influx of settlers who came enthused by governmental promises of grants of land. In addition to these free settlers there were a selection of convicts who, under a process of something akin to manumission under Roman Law, became upon completion of their sentence, eligible for freedom and possibly a grant of land.
There developed a spirit of competition amongst the settlers, each wanted to become more successful than the others. The favourite means of distinguishing oneself was the uttering or publication of damaging words against a person who was perceived to be a rival. Various defamation actions between 1805 and 1835 are discussed, providing a fascinating insight into the emergence of a Rule of Law, however imperfect, in the development of the colonial society of Van Diemen’s Land.

Publication Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
Supervisor: Moens, Gabriel
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/14807
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