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Adams, Michael; Barker, David; Lancaster, Judith --- "Business Law and Ethics: Does It Have A Future?" [2002] MurdochUeJlLaw 27; (2002) 9(3) Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law

Business Law and Ethics – Does It Have A Future?

Authors: Michael Adams BA(Hons), LLM (Lond)
Professor, University of Technology, Sydney
David Barker LLB (Lond), MPhil (Kent), LLM (Hons) (Cantab)
Professor, University of Technology, Sydney
Judith Lancaster BA, LLB (Hons) (Macq), RGN
Senior Lecturer, University of Technology, Sydney
Issue: Volume 9, Number 3 (September 2002)

This paper was presented to the Legal Interest Group at the Australasian Law Teachers' Association conference, hosted by Murdoch University on 1st October 2002. Any comments on the paper may be emailed to the authors at:


Business Law and Ethics – Does It Have A Future?


  1. On two previous occasions papers have been presented to the Law in Non-Law Schools Interest Group of the Association of Australasian Law Schools (now called "ALTA") drawing a comparison between teaching law to non-law school students particularly with regard to the introductory "business law" subject from 1973 to the present day.

  2. On the first occasion in a paper presented to this same group at the ALTA Conference held in Canberra at the ANU in 1990 entitled "Law in Non-Law Schools - The Future after the Pearce Committee" an attempt was made to draw a comparison between the publicity which had been given to statements which the Pearce Report had made regarding the perceived quality of individual law schools and the neglect of that part of the Report - "Chapter 7 - Teaching Law to Non-Law Students".

  3. As an illustration of what was perceived to be the approach towards the teaching of law to non-law schools prior to the round of universities and colleges of advanced education (CAE) mergers during the Dawkins period of 1989-91. From the Pearce Report comes the following relevant extracts were quoted:

    "Para 7.1
    Law for non-law students. Not only law students need to acquire a knowledge of the law. It is desirable also for students in many other disciplines to have some understanding of the law that is relevant to their area of expertise or intended vocation. This has resulted in the publication of numerous books entitled "Law for ..." and has also led to law schools in some institutions providing law courses for students in other faculties, such a course being under the control of the other faculty, and not the law school.

    Para. 7.2
    Types of courses. The courses offered tend to fall into 2 categories, although there is some shading between them. First, there are those courses that comprise a potpourri of topics that are thought to be relevant to particular discipline. For example, law for architects might, in a relatively few number of lectures, canvas the law relating to copyright, professional negligence, town planning, commercial arbitration, etc. The second type of course deals with a discrete topic and many well traverse much the same ground, as would be taught to law students. An example is taxation for accounting students. See generally on the teaching of law for non-law students, D W Mirchell (ed), "Papers on Legal Studies and Legal Education for Non-Lawyers (1979).

    Para 7.3
    Service courses. Courses of both kinds referred to above are often, some pejoratively, referred to as service courses. They can, in fact, be quite demanding if they are to be well and coherently taught. There can be a very real challenge in bringing an understanding of the law to students who have not been provided with the introduction of law and the legal system that law students are given."

  4. The 1990 paper by David Barker, also focussed on a joint submission of the Business Law Department of the University of New South Wales, prepared by Peter Gillies, at that time a Senior Lecturer, now a Professor in the Business Law Discipline, School of Economics and Financial Studies, Macquarie University, as the result of a meeting by representatives of that group chaired by Professor Patricia Ryan, also of the same School of the University.

  5. The report was of importance because of its explanation of the role of the academic business lawyer:

    "The academic business law departments have a strong input, as mentioned, into the accounting degree, in the areas of contract, general business law, company law and taxation law. New areas are being opened up by courses or must soon be opened up - such as insolvency, finance, law, security law, intellectual property law. The traditional law courses are mandatory for registration. Specialised law courses will increasingly be demanded by the growth in accounting honours year enrolments and postgraduate and diploma studies. There is even greater scope for the expansion of continuing legal education courses for the accounting profession."

  6. Its conclusion was in a similar vein:

    "All of these fundamental areas of business law are fast developing, increasingly complex and demand expertise and commitment from the responsible academics. Without these, the legal education requirements of the accounting profession cannot adequately be met."

  7. At the Kuring-gai Campus of the newly established University of Technology, Sydney the introductory subject of "Law and Society" was taught jointly to both students in the School of Financial & Administrative Studies and the School of Nursing. Although this meant that there was a multi-disciplinary approach to the subject, it did not take into account the varying needs of the two professional disciplines. Although there was an attempt to achieve some co-relation of assessment between these two diverse professional groups, it did lead to dysfunction in resolving the appropriate grading outcomes. The teaching techniques used were, in the context of the times traditional with a lecture, tutorial and of semester formal examination and a mid-year multiple-choice examination manually marked.

  8. In a subsequent paper entitled "The Challenges of Teaching Law to Non-Law Students" again presented to this same group at the ALTA Conference held at the University of Tasmania in 1994 a further progress report was given to the changes which had taken place within the UTS School of Law with regard to the teaching of law to non-law schools and its particular impact on the core introductory Business Law subject. By this time the Department of Legal Studies (Kuring-gai CAE) had combined with the Department of Business Law, Faculty of Business (UTS) to offer a comprehensive programme of "supply" law courses fully integrated within the then UTS Faculty of Law and Legal Practice.

  9. Although there was now a common introductory business subject "Law for Business" taught within the UTS Bachelor of Business programme described as "An Introductory unit designed to give students an understanding of the Australian legal and constitutional system. Topics covered include legal philosophy, legal history, constitutional law, doctrine of precedent and statutory interpretation, torts, crime, property and contracts." At this stage, this subject was the prerequisite for all law units offered in the business degree (BBus), with the new UTS grading of 5 credit points. The nursing degree now had a separate introductory law subject entitled "Values in Nursing".

  10. The teaching methodology was still traditional, although a reflective journal had been introduced as part of the assessment process. The journal enabled contemporary law issues to be dealt with in comparison with traditional legal principles.

  11. In 1999 the Faculty of Business had a complete re-appraisal of the faculty's Bachelor of Business programme with the intention of making it more relevant to the modern business world. This process required that all subjects would provide students with the knowledge, competencies and values required to achieve these objectives. All compulsory core subjects would be increased to six credit points and have four integrating themes:

  12. The Faculty of Law realised that if it was to remain a major provider of a core subject in this new programme, it would be necessary for it to reconstitute its teaching team and provide some major resources both with regard to the provision of teaching materials and the revision of its teaching techniques. The new subject was to be called "Business Law and Ethics" or soon became known as "BLethics". This is a one semester subject and is taught to all the majors in the business degree (accounting, management, economics, finance etc).

  13. The UTS Law School also re-named its supply programme, the Director of Cross-Disciplinary Programmes and was responsible for all law teaching across the nine UTS faculties.

  14. The Business Law and Ethics Team comprises five highly qualified legal professionals whose diverse qualifications combine to provide a unique learning experience for students and a rewarding degree of collegiality between the team members.

  15. Each member of the team is a full-time member of the academic staff with employment histories as follows:

    Professor Michael Adams   1989                      Professor David Barker      1989

    Ms Judith Lancaster            1994                      Dr David Meltz       1992

    Mr Robert Tong                 1977

    BLethics teaching aims and philosophy

  16. Business Law and Ethics (BLethics) is a large core cross-disciplinary subject that is taught over one semester and is both co-ordinated and taught by a team of five academics to up to 1400 students per year from both the Business and the Law Faculties and up to 300 students per year at Taylor's College (BBus 1st year Off-Shore Program) in Malaysia. The class structure is two-hour lecture per week and a fortnightly two-hour tutorial. This subject is taught to a large number of students - many of whom are from a non-legal discipline - across two local campuses and one offshore. The legal subject matter and students' general perception of it as "dry and conceptually difficult" and not the actual focus of their future professional careers, challenges the teaching team to be innovative, creative and well informed.

  17. Cross-disciplinary teaching differs from LLB teaching in that the former is directed at professionals other than those who will practice law, while the latter is directed at educating lawyers. Cross-disciplinary teachers must adapt from the responsive teaching context, which is central to the training of future lawyers. Instead, they must present legal content in a preventative context so as to provide students with legal knowledge that builds a framework for risk management.

  18. Each member of the BLethics team brings to the team impressive academic qualifications and a broad range of skills and experience in the legal field and beyond. The team dynamic - formed out of a fusion of the educational philosophies and teaching approaches of each team member - is what makes this subject unique. Two members of the team hold teaching awards - Michael Adams holds the 2000 Australian Universities Teaching Award for "Law and Legal Studies" as well as a UTS Teaching Award (Individual category) for 1992 and Judith Lancaster holds a UTS Teaching Award (Individual category) for 2001.

  19. Each member of the team is an enthusiastic teacher with a passion for imparting knowledge and guiding students towards becoming responsible legal and business professionals. The overall philosophy is pragmatic in that the aim is to demonstrate to students the relevance of law and ethics to everyday human activity and to their professional development. We seek to inspire students to embrace the learning of law as a tool to protect them from having to learn through mistakes, we also encourage them to value learning as a lifetime pursuit and to embrace the latest technological tools as a means to facilitate their learning in the most efficient and effective way possible.

  20. Business Law and Ethics challenges the teaching team to be aware of the specific and very unique features of its student population. Firstly, BLethics students are primarily newcomers to the university environment and a large proportion are making the transition directly from school. They are therefore, unfamiliar with the less structured and ordered learning environment. As well as being differentially placed in relation to their expectations of where this subject is to take them. Some students will be doing it as a once only subject, others will be doing it as the foundation subject of the Bachelor of Business with a major in Law, while yet another group will be undertaking a combined degree in both Business and Law. We seek to demonstrate to students that understanding the law is empowering in that it provides a foundation for good professional decision-making. We also encourage students to value teamwork and appreciate that a significant part of learning is what we expose ourselves to by exchanging ideas and interacting with each other.

    Contribution to students' learning through course/subject design

  21. Business Law has a ten year history as the 'flagship' of the Cross-Disciplinary Programme. The subject underwent a total re-construction in 1999 to make it more responsive and reflective of the achievement of changing technology. This was to allow for students to experience the broad range of ideas generated where learning takes place in an environment characterized by academic diversity. The changes altered the character of the subject from a standard one-dimensional problem based model to an innovative all-inclusive interactive model that empowers the students to take control of their educational development. The multi-faceted product of the change was brought together in a learner-friendly way by the shared vision of the teaching team. The objective underlying the subject's new design is to present law in a way that takes it beyond the popular media representations that shape students' impressions of what law is and what law does, and make it come alive. There has also been a conscious attempt to create a learning model that marries the moral aspects of professionalism with the less flexible, rule-based context of Business Law.

  22. In response to ongoing revelations of corporate mismanagement in the business world over the past couple of years, it was decided in 2000 to introduce an ethics component to ensure that our students would not just graduate with the skills expected of a business professional but that they would also leave UTS with a highly developed sense of the corporate and social responsibilities that attach to those roles. Judie Lancaster was assigned responsibility to design and introduce the ethics content into the Business Law. Since its original introduction there has been ongoing content development in line with the ongoing public debates surrounding Australia's recent corporate collapses of HIH, One.Tel the revelations concerning the Oasis Development and its links to Liverpool Council and the Canterbury Bulldogs. It was designed to arouse awareness in students of the pressures that can threaten professional integrity in business dealings and develop an understanding that good ethics is good business. She selected and edited a book - Readings on Ethics[1] - which includes extracts from several different texts on the theoretical foundations of organisational ethics, as well as articles and case studies with particular relevance to the topics covered in the workshops. These readings have proven to be a valuable student resource in that the book has been prepared with an eye to the importance of juxtaposition as a tool for encouraging students to engage in critical analysis. Because Business Law was developed to combine face-to-face learning with interactive participation, the task of integrating an ethics component into the subject has proven to be very rewarding. The students can now fully engage in the learning process by utilising the new technology to access the latest information on legal developments in business and the emerging field of professional ethics. The result has been the development of an all-inclusive subject that is regarded as an outstanding example of subject design and development within the faculty.

    BLethics learning issues

  23. The coordinating team has sought to identify and respond to the overall learning issues associated with this student demographic. This includes:

    Building self confidence and oratory skills

  24. Students are encouraged to view effective communication as one of the most important skills a student can acquire and to see University as an excellent forum for building self-confidence and public speaking skills. The favoured teaching model leans away from the idea of rote learning the rules from the book and relies on the teachers to act as role models of professional standards. The innovative use of a variety of assessment techniques have been adapted so as to provide for the realisation of this goal. For example, students are grouped into pairs and must prepare and present allocated topics at each tutorial. Each pair is called on to lead the class on their topic, field questions either from the tutor or other class members and attempt to provided reasoned responses. It is common for students to express horror at the start of the semester about having to address their peers and follow up at the end with expressions of surprise at the satisfaction that comes from traversing a boundary they would not by choice cross and thanks for the self confidence that develops from the experience.

    The 'certain v uncertain' dichotomy of law

  25. Students in any given situation want the 'right' answer to a legal question. It is, therefore, important to convey the fact that students should be confident in their value- judgment choice in any conclusion after applying the appropriate legal principles. The message is reiterated that students will not be 'penalised' provided they apply this approach. I have noticed that after some initial misgivings, most (although not all) students feel comfortable with this methodology.

    The 'why do I have to do this subject' plea

  26. This is probably now the first question that students ask when a subject is made compulsory. We point out the legal risks which students will encounter wherever their career path takes them and reinforce this with examples of current cases. This reinforces the 'utility' of the subject. They have a variety of career pathways open to them.

  27. Foundation for change is facilitated by going beyond the textbook and incorporating changes to the law as a dynamic consequence of the subject. For example, BLethics has a small component dealing with International Law. Students found this difficult and complex, so Dr David Meltz was asked to write additional notes to place private international law in the context of contract and tort. Then in March 2002, the High Court of Australia handed down the decision in Renault v Zhang [2002] HCA 10. Immediately David Meltz was able to provide sufficient information that the BLethics students were told the new principle of international law. This example reflects the ability to incorporate change and that the change is initiated from a level of expertise.

  28. E-learning is an integral feature of this subject to facilitate peer interaction on issues of common concern in the corporate setting. The external links folder we have set up on UTSOnline, is proving to be a valuable, time saving research resource for students with demanding schedules. The use of web-based conferencing software like Blackboard (known at UTS as "UTSOnline"), which is similar to WebCT, facilitates easy communication with each semester cohort of between 550-850 students. It has all the usual facilities, such as threaded discussions, chat rooms, lecture powerpoint slides and email functions. It is also used for online assessment for a MCQ mid-semester examination. The online assessment was seen as a great way to help students get the necessary cognitive (hard facts and rules of law) squarely understood prior to the problem-solving skills of the final examination. The tutorials have written and oral presentations, which enable these black-letter principles to be applied to analytical situations and additionally provide the BLethics tutors with the opportunity to give feedback.

    Subject feedback from students and staff

  29. We consider the feedback from student evaluation to be as vital for ongoing improvement and innovation in teaching and learning as assessment feedback is for student progress.










    Relevance of the subject





    Delivered consistent with its objectives





    Learning experience was interesting & thought provoking





    Resources availability to support subject





    Assessment was fair & reasonable





    Overall quality of subject

  30. This table compares the UTS student feedback standard subject questionnaires (based on the Course Evaluation Questionnaires used to ascertain graduate attributes across al universities). BLethics is compared to the average for the whole of the Faculty of Business (Bus) and the whole of the Faculty of Law (Law) and the average for the whole of the university (UTS). It can be clearly seen that BLethics on the 5-point scale, is clearly superior to all the other subjects taught across these faculties.

  31. The one key area where there is a perceived issue is in relation to assessment. On this question, BLethics received a lower result than any of the faculty or university averages. The BLethics teaching team for this semester has moved to change the assessment to make it more reasonable and it is hoped to see an improvement in this question at the end of the semester.

    The Role of Ethics in Business

  32. Ethics was first introduced as a component of Business law at UTS in 2000. The primary driver of this expanded content and subject agenda was the need to respond to the social and economic impacts of the growing number of cases of corporate mismanagement.

  33. At UTS, we took seriously our obligation to ensure that tomorrow's corporate leaders receive within their tertiary education an understanding of the following:

  34. So, what do we seek to impart to students about the public expectations of a corporate leader and how do we go about the business of transmitting these messages to the students? My paper last year put forward the argument about why I believe that it is preferable to teach ethics an integrated component of a core law subject in a cross-disciplinary course such as the Business Law subject. For me it is to

  35. Edited reading materials containing a carefully selected mix of theoretical extracts and current journal and newspaper articles have been designed to expose the students to a variety of arguments that challenge beliefs and extend the boundaries of learned behaviour beyond childhood and pre-adult experiences. Thus, students are encouraged to develop an understanding that ethical principles do not come in neat packages - one set for business and another for one's private activities - as well as to appreciate the nature of the complexities that render the learning of childhood and adolescence, insufficient for corporate decision making.

  36. As part of the preparation to deal with the problems commonly encountered by business leaders, the readings have been selected with a view to providing a broad range of topics covering some of the more pressing contemporary issues. These include the cost of environmental vandalism and urban decay; the nature of the values generated by competitiveness and the social impact of the behaviours it rewards; the positive and negative features of globalisation; balancing work and family commitments, industrial regulation of a diverse work force, and responsible management of scarce resources. These topics are addressed within the context of their importance in relation to what has been identified by the author of this paper as ten responsibilities of corporate and commercial professionals:

  37. The materials expose students to a diverse range of moral beliefs and viewpoints, which they can apply to solving hypothetical dilemmas that arise out of the procedurally oriented legal content of the business law component of the subject.

  38. The success the BLethics team has enjoyed since its introduction is very satisfying because it confirms that the team is fulfilling what we believe to be our primary aim as educators. Responsible universities have an obligation to develop something more in students than profit making acumen. As succinctly pointed out by former Harvard President Derek Bok, a responsible university has a basic obligation to society

  39. ...which it violates by refus[ing] to take ethical dilemmas seriously. And a university that fails to engage its members in a debate on these issues and to communicate with care, the reason for its policies gives an impression of moral indifference that is profoundly dispiriting to large numbers of students and professors who share a concern for social issues and a desire to have their institutions behave responsibly.[3]

  40. In other words, the university must assume a significant share of responsibility for the way the corporate sector operates and its leaders behave. This requires students to develop an understanding of the way that commercial sector failure, which arises out of impropriety, prompts the government regulation. As Daniel Vogel points out " scandals often lead to the establishment of a new statute, regulation or regulatory agency.[4]

  41. The response from the students to the idea that ethics has an important place in the business curriculum and to the requirement that they must engage in open and reflective discussion of moral issues, has been positive. The resistance that one expects when sacred beliefs and values are challenged has been surprisingly minimal. This is partly due to the fact that the need to provide for dealing with student resistance to the entire exercise of teaching and being taught ethics was acknowledged in the developmental stages of the subject content. Ruth Macklin's work on pluralism and indoctrination was seen as very valuable in this regard. She suggests that resistance arises out of a tension produced by conflicting obligations imposed on ethics teachers in societies where pluralism is highly valued. Firstly, there is the realization of a need to avoid the possibility of undermining the plurality of values on which our community is based and thereby failing to fulfil the obligation to be tolerant of a variety of moral beliefs. Secondly, the positive obligation to promote the diversity of views and moral convictions housed in a pluralistic culture cannot be fulfilled in circumstances where there is a contrary requirement to impose models of moral convictions and ethical positions.[5]

  42. Those students, who could be described as falling into the resistant category, have responded well in workshop discussions of the issues raised in the readings, all of which have been designed to expose them to counter-arguments presented in an non-threatening way throughout the carefully selected and edited reading materials. The real value of this approach is that it does not exert pressure to change from entrenched viewpoints, particularly those arising out of religious influences. Rather, it acknowledges what Lisman describes as ...providing [students] with an understanding of opposing viewpoints [which]...might eventually result in their coming around to a more moderate way of looking at issues.[6] It also focuses on the five general goals recommended by Callahan for teaching ethics - stimulating the moral imagination; recognizing ethical issues; eliciting a sense of moral obligation; developing analytical skills[7] and promoting a tolerance of disagreement and ambiguity - while it minimises the possibility that students will feel pressured to change fundamental beliefs and developed behaviours.

  43. Its success is evident in the high level of student engagement in discussion of the moral issues associated with commercial activity and the clear willingness of the students to probe into the more difficult dilemmas that arise for corporate leaders.

    Developing students' generic skills

  44. We seek to create a supportive environment where the contribution of every member of the class is highly valued. The students are encouraged to actively participate in teamwork and appreciate that a significant part of learning is what we expose ourselves to through the exchange of ideas and interacting with each other. UTSOnline has provided to consult with me on a regular basis for the purpose of ensuring that no student is left behind in developing the generic skills required for future professional practice. The team approach fosters a stimulating and inclusive environment and facilitates lively debate. The ongoing encouragement we give to my students to communicate establishes strong rapport and encourages engagement in the subject content. The BLethics classes we presently teach have a large proportion of international students for whom English is a second language. These students frequently find it difficult to interpret and understand Australian legal and ethical concepts. By offering extra support through unrestricted consultation, we have successfully met the needs of all my students. In particular, we have endeavoured to meet the quite specific needs of these students as expressed by the following sample of teaching evaluation comments:

    Raising students' curiosity and interest

  45. The demands of cross-disciplinary teaching require each team member to be fluid as a teacher, to ensure students appreciate the importance of considering issues from different perspectives and to be informed of and respond to the ever evolving changes in the law and the moral issues that shape the business environment. The mechanisms for developing students' independent learning, critical thinking and communication skills, are woven into the structure of the subjects we have designed and developed. We rely substantially on subject design and assessment to encourage students to adopt a deep approach to their learning. We incorporate ethical principles, into the structure of what we teach and challenge the students to develop professionally through a process we refer to as 'making theory live'. This requires them to understand the underlying theoretical concepts and apply them. They have to observe, report, evaluate, present, and critically analyse the results of processes carried out, wherever possible, in the actual professional setting. In all our classes, including two very large lecture groups, we have sought to engage the students in active participation with the objective of stimulating them to think critically. we conduct tutorials and workshops with discussion groups and require that students participate in both individual and group presentations.

    BLethics content

  46. The subject content has been developed as a team approach, with input from the Faculty of Business and a broad committee known as CCC (Core Coordinator Committee of the Faculty of Business). This has been refined over the last few semesters, but includes:

    Subject Objectives

  47. On successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

    1. identify and understand the underlying principles of Australian business law and related ethical issues;
    2. discover and apply traditional legal analysis and problem-solving techniques;
    3. apply and analyse legal reasoning in selected areas of business law with ethical dilemmas;
    4. demonstrate skills in researching and applying case law and legislation to evolving areas of business in Australia and internationally;
    5. have a working knowledge of ethical decision making systems and their application to the business environment, and
    6. appreciate and understand a range of personal and professional ethical dilemmas, as well as approaches to encourage ethical behaviour within organisations.

    Contribution to the Course (BBus)

  48. This subject provides the foundation for all law subjects in the Bachelor of Business. It provides students with the opportunity to develop research skills using both paper and electronic (including Internet) techniques to tackle legal problems in Australia and internationally. It contributes to the professional status of legal risk management, as well as facing personal ethical dilemmas. It will provide valuable information for the stakeholders in any business to understand legal compliance and professional responsibility.

    Contribution to Integrating Themes

  49. This subject will provide students with the opportunity for advanced communication skills to be developed in presenting legal arguments orally and in written submissions. The use of web-based discussion lists (such as UTSOnline) will aid the integration of legal research with contemporary discussion of cutting edge legal issues. Technology, through the Internet, has become a standard tool within business and the legal profession. This subject has a clear focus on resolving ethical decisions, professional responsibilities and personal standing. A comparison of legal systems from those based on the British common law to those based on the civil code enables international laws and intercultural understanding to be a key part of the subject.

    Subject Administration

  50. Business Law and Ethics is taught as a team subject approach, with one overall co-ordinator, who is responsible for the 1,300 students per year that are studying it on the City and Kuring-gai campuses, as well as at Taylor's College, Malaysia.

  51. The five lecturers will be using the same powerpoint lectures, but may provide additional handouts (which are available from the internet). All the lectures are two-hours long (usually with a short-break in the middle, as directed by the lecturer) in the specified rooms on the timetable.

  52. A team of tutors, who will be responsible for running the two-hour tutorials, supports the lecturers. All students are divided into "odd" and "even" tutorials based on the tutorial enrolment number. The tutorials are intended to be an integral part of the learning process and facilitate the asking of questions, reviewing questions from the materials and the main textbook. The tutorials are run on a fortnightly (every other week) basis, starting in the SECOND week of semester. Finally, UTSOnline (Blackboard software) provides additional electronic support for all enrolled students.

    Subject Overview

  53. Australian Legal System
    This deals with the various sources of law from legislation under federal and state laws to the developments in case law throughout a number of common law jurisdictions (eg Australia, UK, New Zealand, Canada and Malaysia) and the role of international law. It also provides the background to jurisprudence (the science of law), legal reasoning and logic, as well as the legal profession and the courts.

  54. Business Ethics
    An examination is made of the foundations of ethical and criminal conduct, at both a personal and professional level, as well as a review of organisations as ethical entities. Moral and ethical frameworks will be discussed with regard to the institutionalising of ethics.

  55. Australian Commercial Relationships
    This reflects the main legal business relationships in Australia, focusing on partnerships, corporations, joint ventures and agency. A balance of law and ethics is examined, with the elements of resolving disputes personally, through dispute resolution and litigation.

  56. Contract and Consumer Protection
    Most business relationships and decisions are based on contractual rights founded on the common law, the influence of tortious actions (eg negligence), and consumer protection legislation, such as the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) and international treaties. An examination of ethical considerations and as they relate to the corporate citizen is included in this topic.

  57. International Legal Resources
    Developments in international laws and treaties and the availability of legal resources through the internet makes it possible to examine private conflict law and advanced research techniques.

  58. The other area of interest in Law for Non-law students is assessment. This has been a continuously developing area. The final outcome of the last ten years is the following summary:



    Brief Description


    Mid-semester exam

    40 multiple-choice questions (MCQ), each worth ½ mark.  Exam takes only 20 minutes.  The questions will be completed via UTSOnline (via the internet).  Students will be given TWO attempts at this exam.


    BLethics Tutorials

    · Four oral presentations in tutorials

    · Students will be divided into pairs

    · Presentations of a fixed time

    · Written submissions to accompany presentation.


    Final Examination

    The whole subject will be examined, but focusing on the application of business law topics and ethical issues.  The exam will include THREE (3) compulsory problem questions. You must achieve at least 24/60 (>40%) in the final examination to pass the subject.


    Graded H to Z

    High distinction to fail grade


  59. Without doubt, there is a future for the introductory one semester long law subject, such as BLethics and it is valuable for all staff to be involved in planting ideas and intellectual pursuits into the eager young minds of our future business leaders in Australia and internationally. It is a pleasure to be involved with a dynamic and challenging subject that is taught as a genuine team approach.

Appendix A - Worked Example of Current Article

Current Article Template – EXAMPLE


John Breusch


16th July 2001


Australian Financial Review

Page/URL path


Brief summary

of article

The President of Chartered Secretaries Australia, Professor Michael Adams, believes the government review of the insider trading laws do not go far enough.  The Financial Services Reform Bill introduces civil penalties for breaches of the insider trading laws; however, the Bill does not go so far as to repeal the current legislation, which requires all prosecutions for such breaches to be made through the criminal courts.  The criminal standard of proof is often too high a bar for the prosecution to reach, resulting in a low number of successful prosecutions.  Prof Adams believes insider trading provisions should be an entirely civil matter, as, given its lower standard of proof, there are likely to be more successful prosecutions bought by the ‘victims’ of the breach.

How does this article link to the subject contents of BLethics?

Insider trading links with the topic entitled ‘Australian Commercial Relationships’ as this area of law is covered by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).  Virtually all corporations are governed by the Corporations Act, which (in Chapter 7) makes insider trading an offence.

Add a case, with a legal citation related to this article.

How does this case relate to the article?

R v Hannes [2000] NSWCCA 503

Hannes was a director of Macquarie Bank who is, to date, the only person to be successfully prosecuted under the insider trading provisions.

Add a section of an Australian statute related to this article.

How is this section connected to the article?

Section 1043L Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)

These sections deal with civil remedies for breaches of insider trading provisions, such as compensation for damage suffered by the insider trading.

How did you locate this article?

Reading the legal issues section of the Financial Review on Friday 16th July 2001.

How did you locate the related case?

(i.e. not mentioned in the article)

Having found the legislation using AustLII (see below), I then used the ‘NoteUp’ function on s 1013 of Corporations Act.

How did you locate the related statute?

(i.e. not mentioned in the article)

I performed an AustLII ( search using the parameters ‘insider trading’, ‘all of these words’ in ‘Commonwealth: All Legislation’.

Why did you select this particular article?

It appeared to be the perfect tie-in between issues dealt with in the BLethics course and knew that by selecting an article that mentioned Professor Adams I could not go wrong!

Date:      02 / 07 /2002

Signed:  Joanna Hockey

Appendix B - BLEthics Legal Problem Solving

Legal Problem Solving – F I L S

To solve a legal problem for the subject Business Law and Ethics, it is appropriate to apply a set structure.  This enables students to identify the relevant issues, explain the law, support it with proof and get top marks!!

To help students, an acronym has been developed:



Identify the key facts that relate the problem. There is no need to rewrite all the relevant facts in your answer.  You may mention a few key facts that you are going to discuss in terms of the issues and law.



It is important to identify the legal issues which arise in the problem.  This will usually require a few sentences to capture the salient points.  By doing this, you will display that you understand the legal issues in the problem.



You are required to explain the general principle and any exceptions in law that relate to the issues you provided earlier.  Take time to fully explain and to demonstrate that you understand how these legal principles are applied to the factual scenario you are given in the problem.



After each legal principle is explained, it is important to support your answer with legal authority.  This is normally the citation of a case or a section of legislation.  Please remember to underline cases and statutes in your answer.

Further Guidelines

In answering a legal problem, it is expected that you would commence the answer with a formal introduction.  This would contain a few sentences that demonstrate you understand the broad issues of law that the question addresses.  All problems should end with a conclusion.

Most Business Law and Ethics legal problems will contain approximately four major legal or ethical issues.  Thus, you will need to conduct a FILS analysis four times!

Tutorial and Examination Style Question

Read the examination problem style question below and attempt to apply the F I L S problem solving methodology to it.  To help provide some of the supporting legal authorities (cases and sections of legislation) there are useful extracts in Appendix of the BLethics subject outline.


Zing, is a university student studying geology, who has been looking to buy a 4WD car for the last month.  Zing has seen an advertisement in the local newspaper for a brand new 4WD being sold by City Motors Pty Ltd.  The price seems to be about $5,000 cheaper than any other equivalent vehicle and Zing is very keen to buy the car at that price.  Zing telephones City Motors Pty Ltd and speaks to its director, Shirley, who states that they only have one 4WD left and he better hurry up to come and see it.

At the car dealership of City Motors Pty Ltd, later that same day, Zing is shown the car by a salesman called Bruce.  Bruce explains that this is the best 4WD on the market and it is the best price for a new car. Bruce states that the car has sold like “hot-cakes” and they have only a few left in stock at this price.  Bruce takes Zing for a test drive around the block and points out that this 4WD would never breakdown and is excellent for the Australian outback.  Zing explains that he plans to drive to Uluru as part of a field trip for the university next week and Bruce assures him that it is perfect for that trip.  Zing borrows the money from a bank to buy the 4WD car that afternoon and takes delivery on Monday.

One week later, Zing sets out for Uluru in his new 4WD and has only driven for two hours across the Blue Mountains and the engine overheats and seizes.  Zing cannot believe that his new car has broken down on an ordinary tarmac road after 150 kilometres.  The National Roads and Motorists Association [NRMA] come to help Zing and inform him that the car is actually three years old and has a very poor reputation.  In fact, a common problem with this type of 4WD was overheating and engine seizures.  The NRMA officer also thought that Zing had probably paid about $8,000 more than the market value of the car as it had being sitting a field in Queensland for the last two years.

Advise Zing on any legal actions he has in contract law and under consumer protection against City Motors Pty Ltd, Shirley and Bruce? (10 marks)


[1] Readings in Business Ethics is a 112 page book.

[2] For a discussion of the issue of socializing students through education see Harold J. Leavitt, "Socializing Our MBA's: Total Immersion? Managed Culture? Brainwashing?," Selections (Winter 1991).

[3] Derek Bok, Beyond the Ivory Tower, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1982, p126

[4] David Vogel, Could an Ethics Course Have Kept Iran From Going Bad? Wall Street Journal, April 27,1987, p18.

[5] Ruth Macklin, "Problems in the Teaching of Ethics: Pluralism and Indoctrination" in Daniel Callahan and Sissela Bok (eds), Ethics Teaching in Higher Education, Plenum Press, NY, 1980, p 81 - 101.

[6] C.David Lisman The Curricular Integration of Ethics, Praeger, London, 1996, p39.

[7] Daniel Callahan 'Goals in Teaching Ethics' in Daniel Callahan and Sissela Bok (eds), Ethics Teaching in Higher Education, Plenum Press, NY, p198.

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