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Complex Civil Litigation - JURD7489
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Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 3
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisite: LAWS2311; JURD7211
Excluded: LAWS3589
Fee Band: 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


Civil litigation is more frequently giving rise to cases that are labelled "mega-litigation", "heavy and complex" or "supercase". At the same time concerns have been raised about cost, delay, access to justice, efficiency and proportionality. This course examines what factors cause civil litigation to be complex such as "high stakes", multiple parties, with an emphasis on class actions, the need for expert evidence and electronic discovery. The course then addresses how complex civil litigation may be effectively managed and the challenge of promoting efficiency without compromising justice. The course will examine the use of case management techniques by the judiciary and methods for limiting or resolving issues in dispute including summary judgment and ADR. The course will draw on Australian, UK and US experience.

Recommended Prior Knowledge

JURD7211 Litigation 1 or equivalent

Course Objectives

This course aims to:

  • Develop an understanding of the possible causes of complexity in civil litigation.
  • Discuss how multiple-parties, technology and the need for experts may impact on the complexity of civil litigation.
  • Analyse how complexity, accuracy of decision making, cost and delay in the judicial system are related.
  • Discuss and evaluate methods for managing complex civil litigation, including recent innovations in the Federal Court of Australia and Supreme Court of New South Wales.
  • Examine Australian, US and UK practices and research on complex civil litigation so as to facilitate comparative analysis.
  • Undertake practical group exercises in relation to real-world examples so as to prepare students for practice.
  • Encourage students to be able to express their arguments orally as is frequently needed in practice for hearings and mediations.
  • Facilitate students being able to critically evaluate the information and ideas presented in the course and to research and write a well-reasoned a research essay.

Main Topics

  • Complexity in civil litigation
  • "High Stakes" litigation
  • Pleadings in complex cases
  • Class actions in the Federal Court of Australia and Supreme Court of NSW
  • Litigation funding
  • Case management requirements and techniques
  • Discovery in the Electronic Age
  • Expert evidence
  • Alternative dispute resolution in complex civil litigation


Class Participation - 10%

Class Participation on a Specified Question - 10%

Group Tasks - two worth 10% each (20% total)

Research Essay (6000 words) 60%

Course Texts


A set of reading materials which contains the required reading for each week will be available to students at the UNSW bookshop on campus a fortnight before teaching starts.


  • Stephen Colbran Greg Reinhardt, Peta Spender, Sheryl Jackson and Roger Douglas, Civil Procedure - Commentary and Materials (4th ed 2009) LexisNexis; or
  • Dorne Boniface and Miiko Kumar, Principles of Civil Procedure in New South Wales (2009) Thomson; or
  • Bernard Cairns, Australian Civil Procedure (8th ed 2009) Thomson; or
  • Jill Hunter, Camille Cameron and Terese Henning, Litigation I-Civil Procedure (7th ed 2005) LexisNexis.


Refer to the course outline which will be provided by the lecturer at the beginning of the relevant semester.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.