Dr Jeffrey Wilson

Dr Jeffrey Wilson Barnes

Senior Lecturer

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce

La Trobe Law School

Melbourne (Bundoora)


BJuris (UNSW), MPubLaw (ANU), PhD (La Trobe)



Membership of professional associations

Aust Inst of Admin Law (Sec, Victorian Chapter); Cth Assoc Legislative Counsel; Law Institute of Vict; Australasian Law Teachers' Association; Council of Australasian Tribunals

Area of study


Brief profile

Jeffrey Barnes is a graduate of the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University, and La Trobe University. He is a Senior Lecturer, School of Law, La Trobe University. He is also the Director, Centre for Legislation, Its Interpretation and Drafting.

He is a former co-editor of Legal Education Review and was the inaugural Director of Teaching and Learning in La Trobe Law School. 

His teaching and research interests generally lie in the areas of public law, the legislative process, and statutory interpretation. He regularly teaches the subject Statutory Interpretation. He also teaches Principles of Administrative Law and an elective, Legal Change, Legislation and Law Reform.

His research interests currently focus on statutory interpretation, legislative drafting, administrative law and legal education. In 2014 he was awarded a PhD on the plain language movement and legislation. 

In 2013 he was invited to give a presentation on statutory interpretation at the Supreme and Federal Courts Judges’ Conference in Adelaide.

Apart from his academic work, Dr Barnes has practised law extensively —  as a Legal Officer (legislative drafter) with the Parliamentary Counsel's Office of NSW; a law reporter for the Australian Law Reports;* Associate to Justice Michael Kirby (Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission); Law Reform Officer, Australian Law Reform Commission;* solicitor, Stephen Jaques Stone James; Project Officer for the Administrative Review Council; Legal Member, Social Security Appeals Tribunal.*

He has been a consultant on statutory interpretation and legislative drafting for a number of organisations including the Australian Capital Territory Parliamentary Counsel's Office, the Office of Parliamentary Counsel (Cth), the South Australian Judicial Development Committee, the Council of Australian Law Deans, and the Australian Taxation Office.

He has also performed honorary work for a number of organisations including the Victoria Law Foundation.

* = part-time appointments

Research interests

Legal Practice, Lawyering and the Legal Profession

- Legislative drafting

Legal Theory, Jurisprudence and Legal Interpretation

- Statutory Interpretation

Teaching units

LAW2STA Statutory Interpretation

LAW5SIN Statutory Interpretation

LAW3ADN Principles of Administrative Law

LAW3LCL Legal Change, Legislation and Law Reform

Recent publications


Council of Australian Law Deans Good Practice Guide to Teaching Statutory Interpretation (2015) at http://www.cald.asn.au/resources (lead author; with Assistant Professor Jacinta Dharmananda (UWA), Professor Jeffrey Goldsworthy (Monash) and Professor Alex Steel (UNSW)) (Non-traditional research output)

Administrative Law LexisNexis Questions and Answers (3rd ed, LexisNexis Butterworths, Sydney, 2015) 369pp + xxxv (with Prof R Douglas) (primary responsibility for chs 1, 2, 9-11, 13-15) ISBN 978-0-409-33973-4

Chapters in books

'Statutory Interpretation and Administrative Law' in Matthew Groves (ed), Modern Administrative Law in Australia: Concepts and Context (Cambridge, 2014) 119

Refereed journal articles

‘Duties and Discretions: How Have “Plain English” Legislative Drafting Techniques Fared in Administrative Law?’, (2016) Australian Institute of Administrative Law Forum ​36

‘How Statutory Interpretation Sustains Administrative Law’ (2015) 22(3) Australian Journal of Administrative Law 163

'Statutory Objects Provisions: How Cogent is the Research and Commentary?' (2013) 34(1) Statute Law Review 12

'When "Plain Language" Legislation is Ambiguous - Sources of Doubt and Lessons for the Plain Language Movement' (2010) 34(3) Melbourne University Law Review 671