Personal details

Professor Des Butler
Faculty of Law,
Law School
Discipline *
Law, Education Systems
+61 7 3138 1104
+61 7 3138 4253
View location details (QUT staff and student access only)

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

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


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.


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”. His major publications include:

  • Butler and Duncan, Maritime Law in Australia (1992) (Legal Books)
  • the tutorial book Butler, Contract Law: Questions and Answers (1st edn 1999, 2nd edn 2005, 3rd edn 2009, 4th edn 2012, 5th edn 2014) (LexisNexis)
  • the monograph Butler and Rodrick, Australia Media Law (1st ed 1999, 2nd edn 2004, 3rd edn 2007, 4th edn 2012, 5th edn 2015) (Thomson Lawbook)
  • the monograph Willmott, Christensen, Butler and Dixon Contract Law (1st edn 2001, 2nd edn 2005, 3rd edn 2009, 4th ed 2013, 5th ed 2018) (Oxford University Press)
  • the monograph Butler, Employer Liability for Workplace Trauma (2002) (Ashgate)
  • the monograph Butler, Damages for Psychiatric Injury (2004) (Federation Press)
  • the monograph Butler and Mathews, Schools and the Law (2007) (Federation Press)
  • the casebook Butler, Christensen, Dixon and Willmott, Contract Law Casebook (1st edn 2009, 2nd edn 2013, 3rd ed 2018) (OUP)
  • the monograph Butler and Holland (eds), Entertainment Law (2017) (Federation Press).

He is also Deputy Editor of the QUT Law Review and a member of the editorial boards of the international Torts Law Journal and the Legal Education Review. He has written numerous articles, particularly in the areas of liability for psychiatric injury, negligence, defamation, contract law, privacy and teaching innovation. He 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 and is a 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. He was also 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. He is a member of a team investigating the legal, ethical and social impacts of genomics for the Queensland Genomics Health Alliance. Des received Law Faculty awards for Research Excellence in 1992, 2003 and 2011 and for Achievement in Research in 2004. He received a University Award for Outstanding Academic Contribution for his research in 2000 and a Vice-Chancellor’s Performance Fund Award for Achievement in Research in 2008. 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.

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


Research interests

  • Privacy
  • Liability for Psychiatric Injury
  • Negligence
  • Contract Law
  • Media Law
  • Defamation
  • Legal Education
This information has been contributed by Professor Des Butler.


Units currently taught

  • LLB202 Contract Law
  • LLB242 Media Law
  • LWS008 Entertainment Law
This information has been contributed by Professor Des Butler.


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.