Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Faculty of Business and Law

School of Law

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Professor Afshin Akhtar-Khavari
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law
Dr Anne Matthew
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Business & Law


Empathy, compassion and emotion play an important role in society. Yet, many areas of law suffer from a compassion deficit to some extent. This research is part of a larger study arguing that this situation can be addressed via policy development enriched through a process of identifying and rectifying compassion deficits.

In this research we are focusing on the laws of equity and how they have been embodied into corporate law. One example of this is how corporate law allows for persons to seek relief from liability where they have acted honestly, and it is fair in all the circumstances of the case for relief to be granted. Such applications allow the court to reconsider potentially harsh application of the law and fashion a more compassionate remedy as is appropriate.

In order for the relief application to be successful, the court must be satisfied of two things, that:

  • the person has acted honestly
  • it is fair in all the circumstances of the case for the person to be relieved of liability.

So, it appears that the law 'on the books' has some capacity for empathy and compassion to inform the application of the law. Yet, in the 30 years that relief has been possible, there has not been a case in Australia where a person has been fully relieved of liability. This research questions why this is the case and seeks to shed light on any compassion deficit that may be evident in corporate law in practice.

Research activities

Research activities during this project may include:

  • a literature review
  • participating in writing a scholarly paper.

This project is flexible, and can run for either 20 hours a week for 6 weeks, or 12 hours a week for 10 weeks.


Contact the Graduate Research Centre at for more information on the Vacation Research Experience Scheme.