David Plater

Dr David Plater

Deputy Director - SA Law Reform Institute

Adelaide Law School

Faculty of the Professions

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr David Plater is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide Law School and is Deputy Director of the independent South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI) based at the Law School. He teaches the Law Reform elective that supports the work of SALRI as well as Criminal Law, Evidence and Advocacy.

SALRI is not an advocacy body but a nonpartisan law reform body formed under a partnership between the University of Adelaide, the Law Society and the State Government. SALRI’s small size belies its substantial profile, output and impact. SALRI undertakes major inquiries into often difficult and sensitive topics and presents a Report to the State Government with suggestions for law reform based on the extensive research and the wide and inclusive consultation that it carries out during a reference. David has been closely involved with major SALRI references in succession law, surrogacy, provocation and related issues, abortion, powers of attorney, the common law forfeiture rule and vulnerable parties in the justice system. Most of these Reports were accepted by the Government and Parliament and led to major changes in the law.

David is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania Law School and involved in ongoing teaching and research, notably with the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute.

David has extensive practical experience, notably in criminal law and procedure. He worked as a Senior Crown Prosecutor at the Youth and Inner London Crown Court branch of the Crown Prosecution Service. He has also worked until 2018 with the State DPP in South Australia and then with Legislation and Legal Policy at the Attorney-General's Department on law reform (notably the Disability Justice Plan) and new legislation. He is admitted as a legal practitioner in England, the Republic of Ireland, Tasmania and South Australia. David has also lectured at the University of South Australia and the University of Tasmania.

In 2013, David was part of a national team of researchers led by Professor Kate Warner of the University of Tasmania who were awarded an Australian Research Council Linkage grant of $252,124 to conduct an ongoing national jury study aimed at gauging informed public opinion on sentencing for sex offences.

David's 2011 PhD from the University of Tasmania examined the historical development and modern application of the role of the prosecutor as a 'minister of justice'.

His research interests include:

Prosecution Role and Discretion
Position and Experiences of Witnesses and Victims in Criminal Justice System
Modern Law Reform
Prerogative of Mercy and Exercise of Death Penalty in 19th Century
Gender and Crime in 19th Century

My research interests include modern Law Reform, the role and exercise of prosecution discretion, the role of victims, vulnerable parties in the justice system and legal history, notably gender and crime and a fair trial in the 1800s.  

The thematic strand underlying my research agenda are my strong interests in modern law reform and criminal justice aimed at modernising and making the legal system more efficient, equitable and simple and promoting access to justice for traditionally overlooked and marginalised groups, such as victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence; victims, witnesses, suspects or accused with cognitive impairment, the disability sector and especially Aboriginal communities. These areas have been chosen for their personal (drawing on my past roles in practice in criminal law) and wider significance and because they remain difficult (even intractable) and highly topical areas. My research themes draw on legal history to highlight these issues are longstanding and explores the fundamental right to a fair trial for an accused cannot not be viewed in isolation and, consistent with the approach under ECHR human rights principles, must be seen as a ‘triangulation of interests’ balancing the often competing interests of the accused, the victim and the community (see also R v A (No 2) [2002] 1 AC 45, 65 (Lord Steyn). 

In 2013, Dr David Plater was part of a national team of researchers led by Professor Kate Warner of the University of Tasmania who were awarded an Australian Research Council Linkage grant of $252,124 to conduct an ongoing national study aimed at gauging informed public opinion on sentencing for sex offences by surveying the views of jurors in sex offence trials in all higher courts in Australia.

On 18 January 2017, Dr David Plater was part of a multidisciplinary researchers led by David Caruso based at the University of Adelaide who were awarded a grant of $93,000 by the South Australian Law Foundation to examine the role and effect of the new entitlement to communication assistance for vulnerable parties in the South Australian higher courts. David Plater is now the Chief Investigator on this project. 

In March 2018, with Professor John Williams awarded $30,000 from the State Government for SALRI to examine surrogacy law and practice in South Australia.

On 13 November 2018, Dr David Plater was awarded $8737 by the University of Tasmania as a 2019 Visiting Scholar to visit Hobart and progress joint research and law reform projects between the South Australian Law Reform Institute and the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute based at the University of Tasmania Law School.  

In February 2019, with Professor John Williams awarded $60,000 from the State Government for SALRI to examine the law of abortion in South Australia and make suggestions for any changes to law and practice.  

On 27 May 2019, Dr David Plater with Professor John Williams, Dr Sylvia Villios and Associate Professor Bernadette Richards were awarded a grant of $60,000 by the South Australian Law Foundation to examine the role and operation of powers of attorney in South Australia and make suggestions for law reform.  

Criminal Law

Evidence

Advocacy 

Sentencing 

Law Reform

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  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2014 - ongoing Board Member Australian and New Zealand Legal History Association
  • Offices Held

    Date Office Name Institution Country
    2009 - ongoing Mentor Law Society Indigenous Law Student Mentor Scheme Australia
  • Position: Deputy Director - SA Law Reform Institute
  • Phone: 83130921
  • Email: david.plater@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4344
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Ligertwood Building, floor 4
  • Room: 4 07a
  • Org Unit: Adelaide Law School

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