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Complex Commercial Litigation - LAWS8765
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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: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisite: Academic Program must be either 9200, 9210, 9230, 9235, 5740, or 5235
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


Civil litigation is more frequently giving rise to commercial cases that are regarded as large or complex so that they are time-consuming, expensive for parties to run and consume a large amount of judicial resources.

The government, judiciary and legal practitioners are concerned at how to efficiently manage these cases. For example see the comments of the Federal Attorney-General, The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Speech to Australian Financial Review Legal Conference 2008, 17 June 2008, "how best do we grapple with large commercial disputes" and Justice Ronald Sackville's decision in the Seven Network Limited v News Limited [2007] FCA 1062 at [3]: "Mega-litigation is an increasing phenomenon and the courts, if not Parliaments, must devise ways to deal with it more effectively".

This course examines what factors cause civil litigation to be complex and what tools are available to manage complex civil litigation, including possible reforms.

LLM Specialisation

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

This course aims to:
  • Develop an understanding of the possible causes of complexity in commercial litigation.
  • Discuss how multiple-parties, technology and the need for experts may impact on the complexity of commercial litigation.
  • Analyse how complexity, accuracy of decision making, cost and delay in the judicial system are related.
  • Discuss and evaluate methods for managing complex commercial 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 commercial litigation so as to facilitate comparative analysis.
  • Encourage students to be able to express their arguments orally as is frequently needed in practice for directions hearings and case conferences.
  • 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 commercial litigation
  • Multi-party proceedings including class actions in the commercial context such as shareholder and cartel class actions
  • Litigation funding
  • Case management requirements and techniques
  • Discovery in the Electronic Age
  • Expert evidence
  • Alternative dispute resolution in commercial litigation


Class Participation - General 10%
Class Participation - Discussion of an allocated reading 10%
Research Essay Synopsis (1000 words) 10%
Research Essay (6000 - 8000 words) 70%

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(3d ed 2005) LexisNexis; or
  • Bernard Cairns, Australian Civil Procedure(7th ed 2007) 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.