- Professor Des Butler
Faculty of Law,
- Discipline *
- Law, Education Systems
- +61 7 3138 1104
- +61 7 3138 4253
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Phd (Queensland University of Technology), LLB(Hons) (Queensland Inst. of Technology)
Privacy, Contract law, Defamation, Legal Education, Liability for psychiatric injury, Media law, Negligence, Torts, HERN
Professor Des Butler is a Professor of Law in the School of Law in the Faculty of Law of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), where previously he served as Assistant Dean, Research (1997-2002). In 1996 he was awarded his doctorate for his thesis on the topic “Evaluation of Judicial Approaches to Determining Tortious Liability for Psychiatric Injury Independent of Physical Injury Caused by Negligence in Australia and England”. Des is an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow and a Senior Fellow of the United Kingdom Higher Education Academy. In 2015 he was honoured by being named the David Gardiner QUT Teacher of the Year “in recognition of sustained excellence in teaching demonstrated through personal leadership, innovative use of technology, development of curricula, and student learning outcomes.”
Des is the author or co-author of 25 books and numerous articles on topics including:
- Liability for Psychiatric Injury
- Media Law
- Contract Law
- Privacy, particularly in the context of surveillance and new technologies
- Legal Education, particularly in the context of technology and narrative in learning
- Schools and the Law
- Entertainment Law
- Maritime Law
Des has won numerous awards for his work, particularly for his use of technology in legal education.
Des has appeared before House of Representatives and Senate inquiries into both drones and automated vehicles, testifying in relation to the privacy and civil liability implications of these forms of technology. He has also spoken on these topics at a variety of other fora. He is a key contributor to the Privacy and Security theme of the University’s Research Priority in Technology, Regulation and Society.
He is a member of the editorial boards of the international Torts Law Journal and the Legal Education Review and was also Deputy Editor of the QUT Law Review.
He is currently a member of a team investigating the legal, ethical and social impacts of genomics for the Queensland Genomics Health Alliance.
Previously Des was:
- Lead Chief Investigator for the project “Teachers Reporting Child Sexual Abuse: Towards Evidence-based Reform of Law, Policy and Practice” which attracted an Australian Research Council Discovery grant in the amount of $250,000 for the 2006-2008 period,
- Chief Investigator for the project “Cyberbullying: An Evidence-Based Approach to the Application and Reform of Law, Policy and Practice in Schools” which attracted an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant in the amount of $180,000 for the 2008-2010 period
- Chief Investigator for the project “A Legally-Informed Intervention for Schools to Prevent and Intervene in Cases of Cyberbullying” which attracted an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant in the amount of $143,000 for the 2011-2014 period.
- Lead Chief Investigator for the cyberbullying in schools project which was funded in the amount of $15,000 by a Law Faculty Special Projects grant.
Units currently taught
- LLB202 Contract Law
- LLB242 Media Law
- LWS008 Entertainment Law
Learning and teaching innovations
Des has been involved in creating multimedia projects designed to enhance learning in law since 1990. His body of work has included:
- writing and producing the CECL (Computer Exercises in Contract Law) computer tutorial and its later online version OSCaR (On-line Sessions for Contract Review) in Contract Law;
- devising the original concept for, writing portions of and producing all video segments for the Crimson Parrot project:
- serving as a leading member of design and management teams for the LawSim template, as well as writing and producing modules using the template for the units Contracts (the Whiskey Bravo modules), and Torts (the Vlad’s of Matavia module);
- The Merlin Affair, a multimedia program fully integrated into the teaching and learning of Media Law;
- writing , producing and appearing in Viva: the Video, an instructional video for students undertaking oral examinations;
- The Contract Vignettes video podcasts, a series of online multimedia segments for Contract Law students (this was the first use of video podcasting in the Law Faculty);
- Air Gondwana, an online suite of modules designed to give students instruction in the theory and practice of negotiation, the project being funded by a $22,000 University Small Teaching Grant.
- The OO Files, a suite of online tutorial modules in Contract Law;
- Entry into Valhalla, a series of modules combining video podcasts and vignettes concerning professional ethics;
- Black Sceptre, a module that teaches negotiation skills to Entertainment Law students;
- The Sapphire Vortex, a series of modules in Criminal Law depicting a sequence of criminal offences and subsequent court proceedings combined with commentary by real world barristers;
- Mosswood Manor, a program designed to contextualise and enhance the learning of trust law in the Equity & Trusts unit;
- Indigo’s Folly, a program designed to contextualise and enhance the learning of statutory interpretation;
- The Hercules Trilogy, an addition to the Air Gondwana program which contextualises the content of contracts and their interpretation;
- Dragon Ventures, a program designed to make Chinese Legal Systems more accessible for students whose training will otherwise be focused on common law systems;
- Chamber of Wisdom, a one stop shop for exam preparation for Contract Law students; and
- Limelight Crux, a suite of online tutorial modules in Entertainment Law.
Air Gondwana, The OO Files, Entry into Valhalla, Black Sceptre, Sapphire Vortex, Mosswood Manor, Indigo’s Folly, Dragon Ventures, Chamber of Wisdom and Limelight Crux all utilise images and machinima created using the Second Life TM virtual environment. This was the first use of Second Life in the Faculty and University. In many cases these Second Life machinima videos are combined with simulated documents to create engaging and challenging authentic learning experiences. A notable feature of these innovative programs is that they share different aspects of a common core narrative and feature many of the same characters in their storylines and are collectively known as “The Complex Narratives Project.” In 2009 he was an investigator on a team led by Professor Sally Kift that was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Grant in the amount of $215,000 for a two year project entitled “Curriculum renewal in legal education: articulating final year curriculum design principles and a final year program”. The project articulated a set of design principles for capstone experiences in law curricula (and the curricula of other disciplines) and an online toolkit for other academics who wish to introduce capstone experiences into their programs.
Awards for learning and teaching innovations
Des is an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow and a Senior Fellow of the United Kingdom Higher Education Academy. In 2015 he was honoured by being named the David Gardiner QUT Teacher of the Year “in recognition of sustained excellence in teaching demonstrated through personal leadership, innovative use of technology, development of curricula, and student learning outcomes.”
He has received numerous awards for his teaching innovations. His most prestigious awards have been:
- a national Carrick Australia Award for Teaching Excellence in the Law, Economics, Business and Related Fields category in 2006. That year he was the runner-up for the award of Prime Minister’s University Teacher of the Year.
- the inaugural Lexis-Nexis/Australasian Law Teachers Association Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Law in 2008, which award he won again in 2014. He is the only person to have won this award twice.
- shortlisted finalist for a Wharton Reimagine Education Award (“the global awards for innovative higher education pedagogies enhancing learning and employability”) in 2015 for his “Complex Narratives Project”.
- a Janders Dean/LexisNexis Legal Innovation Index Award in 2016, for innovative use of technology in legal education. The Legal Innovation Index provides recognition for the most innovative firms, legal teams and individuals in Australia and New Zealand through initiatives that deliver uniqueness and value to their clients and which differentiate their organisation. The award was judged by leaders in innovation including representatives from Lex Machina, Telstra, Vodaphone Global, Trademark Vision and Janders Dean.
- a Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in 2012, “for his sustained efforts using multimedia combining real world video and video created using the Second Life virtual environment, to create dynamic, engaging and challenging learning environments in subjects across the undergraduate curriculum and for his leadership in heading projects, mentoring other academics and scholarly transfer of skills and knowledge and dissemination of the results of his work.”
His other awards include:
- a Law Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2004 for The Merlin Affair;
- a Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005 for his innovations in teaching and learning, particularly The Merlin Affair;
- a University Innovator’s Award in 2006 (nominated by students) for The Merlin Affair;
- a Law Faculty Citation for Contribution to Student Learning in 2007 for The Contracts Vignettes podcasts:
- a Vice Chancellor’s Performance Fund Citation for Contribution to Student Learning in 2008 for Air Gondwana
- a Faculty of Law Learning and Teaching Team Achievement Award in 2012 for Mosswood Manor.
- Faculty of Law awards for “Best teaching team” for the Contracts B team that he led in 2010 and 2011
Before joining the Faculty of Law full-time in January 1989 Des was employed by Brisbane solicitors Feez Ruthning (now Allens) and practised in the areas of commercial litigation (specialising in insurance litigation) and banking and finance. A former law medallist and dux of the then QIT (now QUT) Law School, he also tutored Torts part-time in the Faculty from 1985-87. He became a senior lecturer in 1995, Associate Professor in 2001 and Professor in 2004. He was appointed Assistant Dean, Research from November 1997 to 2002 and was acting Dean in February 2002.
- Butler DA, (2014) The dawn of the age of the drones: An Australian privacy law perspective, University of New South Wales Law Journal p434-470
- Butler DA, Rodrick S, (2015) Australian media law [5th Edition] p1-1039
- Butler DA, Kift SM, Campbell MA, (2009) Cyber bullying in schools and the law: is there an effective means of addressing the power imbalance?, eLaw Journal p84-114
- Butler DA, (2004) Gifford v Strang and the new landscape for recovery for psychiatric injury in Australia, Torts Law Journal p108-127
- Willmott L, Christensen SA, Butler DA, Dixon BM, (2018) Contract law [5th edition] p1-992
- Butler D, (2012) Second Life machinima enhancing the learning of law: Lessons from successful endeavours, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology p383-399
- Butler DA, (2005) A Tort of Invasion of Privacy in Australia?, Melbourne University Law Review p339-389
- Butler DA, (2016) Protecting personal privacy in Australia: Quo vadis?, Australian Bar Review p107-131
- Butler D, (2010) 'Entry into Valhalla': Contextualising the learning of legal ethics through the use of 'Second Life' machinima, Legal Education Review p85-108
- Butler DA, Mathews BP, Farrell A, Walsh KM, (2009) Teachers' duties to report suspected child abuse and tortious liability, Torts law journal p1-23
For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.
- An analysis of truancy regulation in Queensland
PhD, Principal Supervisor
Other supervisors: Dr Elizabeth Dickson, Professor Richard Johnstone
Completed supervisions (Doctorate)
- The Impact of Trade Secrets Law on Employees and Society: In Search of a Balanced Theoretical and Legal Approach with Special Reference to Australia and Sri Lanka. (2019)
- A Principled and Pragmatic Approach to Cases of Negligently Inflicted Psychiatric Injury Based on Corrective Justice and Kantian Right (2018)
- A Human Rights Analysis of a Claim for Educational Negligence in Australian Schools (2013)
- Labour rights as human rights: Workers' safety at work in Australian-based supply chains (2009)