1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Advanced Commercial Law: Current Issues
  4. Print

Advanced Commercial Law: Current Issues (LAWS70336)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70336
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The subject considers key legal concepts employed in commercial law and the practical role they play in solving commercial disputes. Our focus is on key structures and relationships used in commercial transactions, and the question of how such structures and relationships may affect third parties. As commercial parties often need to decide what legal structure to adopt in a relationship, we consider and compare the differing legal consequences of different types of commercial transactions, looking at their effect on both contracting parties and third parties. In doing so, we look at how key conceptual building blocks of commercial law (such as agency; trusts; sale; assignment; and security) are applied in practice. Given the international nature of much commercial law, and the important ongoing influence of shared common law concepts, we consider both Australian and English materials.

The syllabus remains flexible to ensure that our focus is on recent developments and topics of current interest. In 2019, the core topics studied will be: (i) agency: its internal and external aspects; (ii) trusts and their use in commercial transactions; (iii) sale and the effect of passing property; (iv) assignment of contractual rights and the practical effects of non-assignment clauses; (v) the operation of good faith in commercial relationships. Broader themes to be discussed include: (i) the effects of different transactions on third parties, including the limits placed by the law on the parties’ freedom to determine such effects; (ii) the interaction of common law, equity and statute in commercial contexts.

Students taking this subject will be assumed to have a basic knowledge of the principles of contract law, property law, equity and trusts, as applied in Australia or other legal jurisdictions.

Principal topics:

  • Agency: internal and external aspects
  • The use of trusts in commercial relationships
  • Sale and the effect of passing property
  • The transfer and protection of intangible commercial rights, including assignment of choses in action
  • The role of good faith in commercial transactions

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the role played by legal concepts in structuring commercial transactions
  • Be able to examine, analyse and assess the effectiveness of legal rules applicable to commercial transactions
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding the operation and effectiveness of those legal rules and be able to make an informed contribution to debate about the reform of commercial law
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the considerations driving the development of the law in this field
  • Have the communication skills to articulate and convey complex information regarding the relevant legal principles and the authorities on which the principles are based to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to be able to solve complex legal problems occurring in commercial practice.

Eligibility and requirements


Melbourne Law Masters Students: Prior study in contract, trust and equity is required.

JD Students: Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50029 Contracts
Semester 2
LAWS50036 Remedies
Semester 1



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Core participation requirements

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact Student Equity and Disability Support.


Additional details

  • Seminar paper presentation (10 minutes) (10%)
  • Take home examination (4,000 words) (90%) (6 - 9 September)
  • Research paper (7,500 - 9,000 words) (90%) (16 October) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

  • July
    Principal coordinatorBen Mcfarlane
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours24-34 hours
    Total time commitment150 hours
    Pre teaching start date17 June 2019
    Pre teaching requirementsThe pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.
    Teaching period22 July 2019 to 26 July 2019
    Last self-enrol date24 June 2019
    Census date22 July 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail 6 September 2019
    Assessment period ends16 October 2019

    July contact information


    Professor Ben McFarlane, Coordinator
    Professor Paul Davies

    Email: law-masters@unimelb.edu.au
    Phone: +61 3 8344 6190
    Website: law.unimelb.edu.au

Additional delivery details

This subject has a quota of 30 students.

Enrolment is on a first come, first served basis. Waitlists are maintained for subjects that are fully subscribed.

Students should note priority of places in subjects will be given as follows:

  • To currently enrolled Graduate Diploma and Masters students with a satisfactory record in their degree
  • To other students enrolling on a single subject basis, eg Community Access Program (CAP) students, cross-institutional study and cross-faculty study.

Please refer to the Melbourne Law Masters website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Specialist materials will be made available free of charge from the Melbourne Law School prior to the pre-teaching period.

  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

    Additional information for this subject

    If required, please contact law-admissions@unimelb.edu.au for subject coordinator approval.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 30 August 2019