Murray Raff


Accepting PhD Students

1989 …2020

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Personal profile



Murray Raff is a Professor of Law at University of Canberra, Australia. He teaches Environmental & Planning Law, Comparative Law, Property Law and Administrative Law at undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

One important focus of Professor Raff’s research has been recognition in fundamental legal principle of environmental responsibilities of private landowners, in the course of which he has engaged in extensive comparison of the management of private land title in Germany and under the Australian Torrens land title registration system. Another has been reform of civil law in states in transition from state socialism. Professor Raff is a fellow of the International Academy of Comparative Law and the Australian Academy of Law and the Chief Editor of Volume VI Property and Trust of the International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law.

Professor Raff has in the past worked in the law schools of University of Melbourne, Monash University and Victoria University in Melbourne, as well as in legal practice and at the Law Reform Commission of Victoria on the reform of Property Law in that State and related projects. He was a Director and Chair of the Environment Defenders Office (Victoria) and in Canberra continues pro bono assistance to the Environmental Defenders Office (ACT).



B Juris [Bachelor of Jurisprudence], Monash University, 1980

LLB (Hons) [Law Degree with Honours] Monash University, 1982 – Honours Thesis Title: A History of the Doctrine of Binding Precedent

Zertifikat Deutsch als Fremdsprache [Certificate in German as a Foreign Language] – Goethe Institute, Melbourne, 4th December 1991

Ph D [Doctor of Philosophy - Law], University of Melbourne, 1999 – Ph D Thesis Title: German Real Property Law and the Conclusive Land Title Register

Barrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria, admitted 7th April 1983

Professor, Canberra Law School, University of Canberra

Languages - English and German




Private Property and Environmental Responsibility – A Comparative Study of German Real Property Law, Kluwer Law International, The Hague, 2003 (ISBN 90 411 2128 5) 326 pages



Security in Immovables by C G van der Merwe, in Volume VI – Property and Trust, International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2014 (with Prof Athanassios N Yiannopoulos) 208 pages



‘Coal and Climate Change: A Study of Contemporary Climate Litigation in Australia’ (2020) 37 Environmental & Planning Law Journal 87-127 (with Victoria McGinness)

‘Can the Market Decide? A Law and Economics Analysis of Models of Legislation Banning Plastic Bags’ (2019) 36 Environmental & Planning Law Journal 242-261 (with Dai Moore)

‘A Comparative Perspective on the Concept of Ownership in Russian law: From the Svod Zakonov to the 1994 Civil Code’ (2016) 41 Review of Central & East European Law 263-341 (with Dr Anna Taitslin)

‘The Importance of Reforming Civil Law in Formerly Socialist Legal Systems’ (2015) 1 International Comparative Jurisprudence 24–32

Ðánh giá lại vai trὸ cὐa luật dân sụ [‘Rediscovering the Importance of Civil Law’] in (2013) Học Pháp Lý [Legal Sciences] (Ðặc San Khoa – Special Issue) 9-21 (published in Vietnamese)

‘Characteristics of the International Model of Land Title Registration Illuminated by Comparative Study of the German and Torrens Systems’ – submission invited for publication in the first issue of the new journal – (2012) 1 European Property Law Journal 54-123

‘Private Law in the Shadow of Public Law – A Legacy of 20th Century Marxism and the Soviet Legal Model’ (2012) Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie (Beiheft 131) 157-188 (with Dr Anna Taitslin)

‘One Summer in Gdansk – Poland’s Leadership in Transition from the Socialist Property Model’ (2010) 16 Humanities Research 69-88

‘Torrens, Hübbe, Stewardship and the Globalisation of Property Law Systems’ (2009) 30 Adelaide Law Review 245-289

‘Environmental Considerations in Property Law’ (2008) 6 Jurisprudencija 18-31

‘Contradictions in Privatization in Eastern Europe as Reflection of Contradictions in the Socialist Concept of Ownership’ in Transcultural Studies (2006-2007) Vol 2-3, 279-308 (with Dr Anna Taitslin)

‘Pollution, Politics and National Competition Policy - the National Competition Policy Review of the Environment Protection Act in Victoria’ (1999) 6 Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law & Policy 91-112

‘Environmental Obligations and the Western liberal Property Concept’ (1998) 22 Melbourne University Law Review 657-692

‘Ten Principles of Quality in Environmental Impact Assessment’ (1997) 14 Environmental and Planning Law Journal 207-221

‘Matthew Hale’s Other Contribution – Science as a Metaphor in the Development of Common Law Method’ (1997) 13 Australian Journal of Law and Society 73-117

‘A History of Land Use Planning Legislation in Victoria’ (1996) 22 Monash University Law Review 90-139.

‘The Renewed Prominence of Environmental Impact Assessment - A Tale of Two Cities’ (1995) 12 Environmental & Planning Law Journal 241-263.

‘Come Back King Canute! Greenhouse Effect and the Law’ (1989) 6 Environmental & Planning Law Journal 271-281

‘Promises of Peace ‑ High Ideals and Cynicism’ (1987) 12 Legal Service Bulletin 113-16

‘The ANZUS Treaty in Depth’ Peace Studies (Australia and New Zealand) July 1985 (3 pages).



 ‘Duguit and the German Property Law Tradition’ in Paul Babie and Jessica Viven-Wilksch (eds), Léon Duguit and the Social Obligation Norm of Property, Springer, Singapore, 2019, 87-109

‘Property Rights under Socialist Civil Law – Looking Back to the Twentieth Century’ in W B Simons (ed), East European Faces of Law and Society: Values and Practices, Brill-Nijhoff, Leiden, 2014, 251-306 (Volume 63 of the esteemed Law in Eastern Europe series of the (Feldbrugge) Institute of East European Law and Russian Studies, University of Leiden) (with Dr Anna Taitslin)

国际财产法与欧洲法律一体化  [‘International Property Law and European Legal Integration’] in 高祥主编 [X Gao] (ed), 当代法律交往与法律融合. -- 北京:中国政法大学出版社, 2013 [Comparative Law & Global Common Law - Exchange and Integration of Contemporary Legal Systems], CUPL Press, Beijing, 2013, 215-252 (published in Chinese)

‘Lake Burley Griffin – Governance Issues Relating to Water Quality and Integrated Catchment Management’ 18 January 2012 (34 pages) in ACT Commissioner for Sustainability & Environment, Investigation into the State of the Water Courses and Catchments for Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, 2012,

‘Toward an Ecologically Sustainable Property Concept’ in E Cooke (ed), Modern Studies in Property Law – Volume III, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2005

‘Planning Law and Compulsory Acquisition in Australia’ in T Kotaka & D Callies (eds), Taking Land – Compulsory Purchase and Regulation in Asian-Pacific Countries, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 2002, 27-74


SELECTED LAW REFORM PUBLICATIONS – Law Reform Commission of Victoria

The Torrens Register Book, Discussion Paper No 3 (October 1986) 19 pages

Priorities, Discussion Paper No 6 (May 1988) 19 pages

Sale of Land, Discussion Paper No 8 (May 1988) 40 pages

Review of the Mines Act 1958, Discussion Paper prepared for Department of Industry, Technology and Resources (August-December 1988) 79 pages

Torrens Title: Compensation for Loss, Discussion Paper with NSWLRC (June 1989) 49 pages



‘Common Law and the Legacy of Empire: The Case of Australia’ Faculty of Law, University of Würzburg, Germany, 25 June 2019

‘Land Title Registration as a Global Model – in Search of a History and Philosophy for the Registration of Private Property in Land” – plenary keynote address, 21st World Land Registration Congress of IPRA-Cinder [International Property Registries Association], Cartagena, Colombia, 3 May 2018

Senior Mentor, Conference of the Young Property Lawyers Forum, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg, 21-23 September 2016

‘Fraud and Land Title Registration Systems in International Comparative Perspective’ paper presented at 2016 World Bank Conference ‘Land and Poverty”, The World Bank, Washington DC, 17 March 2016

‘Integrated Catchment Management in a Multi-Jurisdictional Setting: the Case of the Molonglo River Catchment’ paper presented at the ‘Frontiers in Environmental Law’ colloquium, University of Tasmania, 10th February 2015



Latest grant:

€ 6000 from the Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht [Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private International Law] to help fund continued work on the Volume VI – Property and Trust, International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law



Areas of Supervision:

  • Environmental & Planning Law
  • Property Law
  • Comparative Law
  • European Law
  • Legal History
  • Legal Theory


Involvement in PhD Supervisory Panels:

Recently Completed:

Kim Browne, Legal Order in the World’s Oceans: Exploration of the 2001 Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention in Context of the Broader Ocean Policy of International Law, Ph D University of Canberra (graduated 2017) – primary supervisor


Juan Diaz-Granados, Legal Foundations of the Sharing Economy: An Uber Case Study, Ph D University of Canberra (anticipated completion, 2020) – panel member

Ivana Damjanovic, Investor-State Dispute Settlement and the European Union: Challenges of the new relationship between EU Law, EU Public Policy and International Investment Arbitration, Ph D Australian National University (anticipated completion, 2021) – external member of panel



Accepted for Publication:

‘Coal and Climate Change: A Study of Contemporary Climate Litigation in Australia’ accepted for publication in (2020) Environmental & Planning Law Journal (with Victoria McGinness)

‘Land Title Registration as a Global Model – in Search of a History and Philosophy for the Registration of Private Property in Land’ invited contribution to an international collection of essays about international innovation in real property law


Research Underway:

‘English Land Title Registration and the Emergence of the Globalising Land Title Model’ – journal article

‘Fraud and Land Title Registration Systems in International Comparative Perspective’ – journal article

‘The Floating Charge in Australia’ – contribution to international comparative study

‘International Law of Underwater Cultural Heritage - Understanding the Challenges’ – book, contract with Springer (co-author: Kim Browne) (manuscript due December 2020)

‘Property and Trust’ – Vol VI of the International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, project with the Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht in Hamburg:

  • Chief Editor, ‘Property and Trust’ – Vol VI – Property and Trust, International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law
  • Author, ‘Immovables: General’ – Chapter 4, Vol VI – Property and Trust, International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law
  • Author, ‘Introduction’ – Chapter 1, Vol VI – Property and Trust, International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law



The main focus of my external engagement is the Environment Defenders Office (ACT).  For example, on 17th September 2019 I presented my regular seminar Critical Points in Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] for clinic students, interns, volunteers and staff of the EDO.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Melbourne

Award Date: 4 Dec 1999

Goethe Institut

Award Date: 4 Dec 1991

Bachelor, Monash University

Award Date: 21 Apr 1982

Bachelor, Monash University

Award Date: 21 Apr 1982

External positions

Visiting Professor, University of Würzburg


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