For a nation that began with convicts, we’ve had our fair share of fascinating legal cases – and here’s our favourite five….
1. Asbestos and James Hardie
The first common law claim against company James Hardie was made in 1975 but it was not until the late 1980s and early 1990s that the major court battles began.
The first product liability claim was won in 1987. The first negligence verdict came in 1991.
In 2007 James Hardie guaranteed a fund of $4billion to cover its future obligations to asbestos victims.
Pictured: widow of asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton, Karen, with asbestos victim Adrian Desreaux.
2. Mabo v Queensland
This was a landmark High Court decision recognising native title in Australia for the first time.
The High Court rejected the doctrine of terra nullius, in favour of the common law doctrine of Aboriginal title.
The action was led by Eddie Mabo, David Passi and James Rice, from the Meriam people in the Torres Strait.
High Court proceedings commenced in 1982 and in 1992, six months after Eddie Mabo’s death, the High Court upheld his claim that Murray Islanders held native title to Torres Strait land.
3. The Peter Falconio case
Peter Falconio was a British tourist who disappeared while travelling with girlfriend Joanne Lees in the Australian outback in 2001.
Bradley John Murdoch was convicted of Falconio’s murder in 2005 and is serving life imprisonment in Darwin.
He will be 74 when eligible for parole. Falconio’s body has never been found.
4. The Lindy Chamberlain case
When Australians first heard Lindy say “a dingo stole my baby” the nation was polarised.
Lindy was convicted of killing nine-week-old Azaria while camping at Uluru in 1980 and was later adjudged wrongly convicted after three years in prison.
In 2012 a fourth inquest ruled that a dingo took Azaria.
5. The Tasmanian Dam case
The Tasmanian Dam case was a landmark decision in our constitutional law and significant in our conservation history.
The Commonwealth government and environmental groups stopped the proposed construction of a hydro-electric dam on the Franklin River, supported by the Tasmanian government.
The area was declared a World Heritage site in 1982.
Queensland Law Week is from 12 to 18 May. Visit the Queensland Law Society website for activities.