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Media Release

April 6 2011

Law for citizens - what are your rights?

Professor Charles RickettMost people are aware of criminal law, but a private law expert will examine the less familiar realm of private law that protects people’s rights and deals with relations between private citizens at a free public lecture next Thursday.
Professor Charles Rickett from UniSA’s School of Law said that most of us are unaware that we make contracts every day.
“Law affects us all in an indirect and not so obvious way, because every day every one of us makes a contract with someone,” said Prof Rickett.
“If you go to a shop and buy your lunch, you’re making a contract, and that means you’re taking upon yourself legal rights and legal duties so you need to have some idea of the framework in which you’re operating and living your life on a day-to-day basis.
“Most of us think, for example, that the only time we encounter law is when we make a contract for example a contract to buy a car or piece of property, or a contract for a job. That’s true of course, but essentially we’re making contracts all the time. That’s just one area in which we interact with private law.”
The other areas of private law include the law of civil wrongs, which deals with matter such as defamation and compensation after an accident, and the law of property.
Prof Rickett will also discuss unjust enrichment law, when someone acquires value, usually in the form of property, at someone’s expense; for example, if a bank mistakenly puts money in someone’s account.
Prof Rickett said his lecture is designed to introduce people to the way lawyers think about private law.
“When the average layperson thinks about law, they think in terms of criminal law. I’m going to be talking about private law, which is the law that regulates social interaction, and that’s terribly important because we’re all socially interacting all the time,” said Prof Rickett.
“It provides order and structure to the way we lead our daily lives in so many dimensions.
“The state is only involved in the sense that it provides a structure whereby it will enforce these private rights; it doesn’t have a direct interest itself, and only intervenes if something goes wrong between individuals, for example we disagree about a contract, and then it steps in to help us reach an agreement.”
Prof Rickett’s lecture, Law for citizens – the impact of law on the order of our daily lives, is the second in the Knowledge Works public lecture series for 2011. It will be held at 6pm on Thursday April 14 at the Allan Scott Auditorium, Hawke Building, City West campus. For more information and to register, please click here.

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