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Paul Finn is one of Australia’s great jurists – a figure of national and international significance as both an academic and a judge. While perhaps known for his work on fiduciary obligations and equity more generally, Finn has also been at the forefront of many other areas of private and public law. His work on integrity of government has been particularly influential; his decision about native title sea rights just one of his many landmark judicial determinations. In this book, a stellar cast – Chief Justice James Allsop of the Federal Court, Justice Michael Barker of the Federal Court, Sir Ross Cranston of the Queens’ Bench, Professor Joshua Getzler of Oxford, Justice Stephen Gageler of the High Court, Associate Professor Pauline Ridge of the Australian National University, Professor John Williams of Adelaide and Professor Sarah Worthington of Cambridge – explore, analyse, celebrate and critique the writings and judgements of an exceptional legal figure.
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The quality of the papers in the book is outstanding as one would expect and it is not possible to identify any as being better than others. That said, the papers by Professor Joshua Getzler, professor of law and Legal History at Oxford, and the paper concerning the manner in which values and principles inform commercial life and commercial law by the Hon James Allsop are well worth extra consideration. It would be wrong not to mention the contribution of Sir Ross Cranston, “A Legal Life”, which is a biographical consideration of Paul Finn’s life and his contribution to the law across academia and as a judge.
Paul Finn and The Federation Press are to be praised in republishing his leading work, with the additional of two further essays. No lawyer worth his salt with a trust or pension practice should be without a copy of 'Finn'. ...
Originally published in 1977, Paul Finn's Fiduciary Obligations has a justified status as a classic text, with myriad citations by the courts both in the UK, Australia, Ireland and elsewhere in the common law world. Unfortunately, Finn's book has been out of print for a number of years and it is almost impossible to get hold of a copy. Your reviewer's standing order search on the second-hand book sites has not revealed a copy for sale over many years! …
So why is a law book that is now over 40 years old worth reprinting and purchasing now?
Broadly it is because fiduciary law is such a tricky area and because the book is the best and clearest guide through many of the thickets. It is deservedly called a 'classic'... anyone seeking to get to the bottom of the duties and obligations of trustees, directors and indeed other fiduciaries (or indeed try to work out who is a fiduciary) needs to start with Paul Finn's book, and this is the case even though the law has (inevitably) moved on in the last 40 years.