Victorious mooters prove Flinders ANIMAL law pedigree

Aaron Timoshanko and Flinders ANIMAL moot team
Flinders Law School’s winning ANIMAL moot team of Riana Cermak, Philippa Ewens and Nytiaini Rajanhidren with their coach, Aaron Timoshanko.

Flinders Law School proved its Animal Law pedigree is of the highest calibre by seeing off some of the top universities in Australia to win the second Australia-New Zealand Intervarsity Moot on Animal Law (ANIMAL).

The Flinders team of Nytiaini Rajanhindren, Riana Cermak and Philippa Ewens came away as undefeated top dogs from a field that included Bond University, The University of Adelaide, Monash, Melbourne, ANU and the University of South Australia – eventually triumphing over Flinders University Law School Dean Professor Kim Economides’ previous institution, the University of Otago.

Flinders Law School Lecturer Aaron Timoshanko, who features in today’s Australian talking about the growth of animal law, said the team faced a grilling in the final from Justice Hollingworth (Supreme Court of Victoria), the Hon Judge Millane (County Court of Victoria) and Joshua Wilson QC.

The moot problem concerned the admissibility of drone footage improperly obtained by an animal welfare organisation and that the applicants (the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) had a reasonable prospect of success in establishing that the respondent (Umbrella Corporation – a fake retailer) engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct in breach of s 18 of the Australian Consumer Law.

Mr Timoshanko said the win was an incredible achievement and that the Flinders team had punched well above its weight to beat such high quality participants.

Significantly, he also said that the win had come in a year that had seen a large increase in participation by Group of Eight universities, which he believed was reflective of an increasing interest in animal law driven by growing public concern about animal welfare.

“Five new Go8 teams entered the competition this year, indicating a clear rise in the popularity and interest in Animal Law,” said Mr Timoshanko.

“In the past five years I’ve seen Animal Law go from the obscure and niche, to being taught in Australia’s most prestigious universities, and there is no doubt that this is due to growing public concern about animal protection issues.

“You only have to look as far as the recent greyhound live-baiting scandal and the ACCC prosecutions for misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to the sale of animal products to see how much the level of public awareness and concern has grown in recent time.

“At least once a week I receive email inquiries from students wanting to know when the topic will be offered, and for interstate students, whether it will be offered online.

“There has also been a dramatic increase in the area of Animal Law scholarship. Top law journals in Australia readily publish articles within the field of Animal Law, and there are now several textbooks dedicated to the topic written by Australian academics.”

Flinders University Law School Dean Professor Kim Economides said the win had once again demonstrated the skill, talent and culture of compassion that existed at the School.

“We are so proud of Nytiaini, Riana and Philippa’s achievement in winning this incredibly competitive ANIMAL moot, which included some of Australia’s top law schools,” said Professor Economides.

“Given my former position at The University of Otago, I feel that I can speak with some authority about the high quality of that particular Law School – and the presence of five Group of Eight institutions for the first time at the competition is the icing on the cake.

“This success is further evidence of the enduring culture at Flinders Law School, which is one of compassion and concern for the rights and welfare of not just Australian people, but also now the animals they are responsible for.”

One example of the kind of work being done at Flinders Law School is that of Masters student Jo Kennedy, who has just received her degree for her thesis on: Doing Time with my Best Friend: Animal-Offender Co-rehabilitation within Correctional Facilities”.

Facts on Animal Law in Australia

Currently there are 12 universities offering Animal Law in Australia. The University of New South Wales was the first university to offer Animal Law as LLM graduate seminar in 2005. Flinders University was an ‘early adopter’ in this regard offering the course in 2009 and 2011. Within the first five years Animal Law courses in Australia went from zero to nine. Monash University was one of the most recent additions to this list.

Increasing participation of Go8 unis generally, and at the ANIMAL Moot

Six Go8 universities now offer Animal Law (the University of WA and the University of Queensland do not offer the subject). This year 18 teams from 14 universities were registered. These were:

  • University of Otago (2015 Runners-Up)
  • Griffith University
  • University of Adelaide
  • University of Melbourne (Host University)
  • Curtin University
  • Bond University (Defending Champions)
  • Monash University
  • University of Queensland
  • University of South Australia
  • Australian National University
  • Flinders University (2015 Winners)
  • Monash University 2
  • University of Melbourne 2
  • University of Melbourne 3
  • University of Technology, Sydney
  • University of Tasmania (2014 Runners-Up)
  • Monash/Victoria University (Joint Team)
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