LAW 701 - The Legal System: Sources, Structure and Method

Course details  
Semester One or Two (Full Semester)
Day Friday
Time 3-6pm
Location Room 210
Building 803, Level 2
17 Eden Crescent
Value 30 points

Lecturers' biography

Edward Willis is a lecturer at the University of Auckland School of Law. He is interested in all aspects of public law with particular interests in constitutional theory, administrative decision-making, the theory and practice of regulation and competition (antitrust) law. He has previously practised as a solicitor for government and private sector clients. His 2012 article “On Regulatory Uncertainty” won the Rex Mason prize for best published article. He has a Masters Degree in Law from Victoria University of Wellington and a PhD from the University of Auckland.

Nikki Chamberlain  is a lecturer at the University of Auckland School of Law. She has expertise in several areas, including Torts, the Law of Family Property and Civil Procedure (Class Actions). Before joining the University of Auckland, Nikki lectured Legal Writing at Vanderbilt University in the United States. She received her LL.M. degree from Vanderbilt. Prior to lecturing, Nikki practiced eight years as a Commercial Litigator at a large commercial law firm in Auckland. She was a Senior Associate and practiced in several areas including contract law, tort law, company law, family law, insolvency law, trust litigation and estate litigation. She appeared as counsel in the New Zealand Court of Appeal, the High Court, the District Court and the Family Court. Nikki also has a BA/LLB (Hons) degree from Auckland.

Course outline

The course is an introduction to the New Zealand legal system and the process of legal reasoning. It will consider the core substantive components of the New Zealand legal system, the sources of New Zealand law (including statute, case law and custom), the influence of international law, legal methodology in theory and practice (including: judicial reasoning and the doctrine of precedent), techniques of statutory interpretation, and the resolution of disputes.


The syllabus will include a study of the following aspects:

  • Concept and sources of law
  • Structure of government and process of lawmaking
  • New Zealand court system
  • Statutory interpretation
  • Common law theory


The primary objective of the course is to provide students with an introduction to the New Zealand legal system and the process of legal reasoning. On completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Understand different theories of law
  • Understand how law is made and applied in New Zealand
  • Apply legal reasoning to resolve practical issues
  • Undertake critical analysis on legal topics


Each student is required to submit two take-home assignments. In semester one:
• The first take-home assignment will be due at 5pm on 12 April 2019, and will be worth 30% of the student’s final grade.
• The second take-home assignment will be due at 5pm on 7 June 2019, and will be worth 70% of the student’s final grade.

Contact details

Law Student Centre
Postgraduate Student Adviser
Student Centre
Level 2, 1-11 Short Street
Auckland 1010