A ‘breathtakingly ambitious’ charter: Michael Kirby

In 1987, the then President of the
Court of Appeal, the Hon Michael Kirby, described PIAC’s charter as
‘breathtakingly ambitious’.

Justice Kirby was later
appointed to the High Court, where he served for 13 years.

In his foreword to Five
Years in the Ring: an account of the first five years of the Public Interest
Advocacy Centre
, Justice Kirby wrote:

are not always the best places to achieve reform… This makes it important to
reflect upon the lessons of public interest litigation.

the courts are thought to fail, or where costs, procedural rules, the lack of
substantive law, the disinclination of the judges, the limited rules of
evidence or other impediments stunt the achievement of a desire social
objective, the reformer must not give up. Law reform bodies must be supported.
The political process must be stimulated. Parliament, that flawed but precious
institution, must be encouraged to act. The charter of PIAC is breathtakingly

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