Postdoctoral fellow Joanne Murray explores unwritten constitutional principles and norms

Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Constitutional law

By Common Law

Communication, Faculty of Law

Photo of Dr. Joanne Murray overlaid on a background photo of Fauteux building
The Common Law Section is pleased to welcome Dr. Joanne Murray to the Faculty of Law community as a postdoctoral fellow studying the norms and principles that are associated with constitutional orders but that remain unwritten.

Dr. Murray will work with the Public Law Centre under the supervision of Professor Vanessa MacDonnell. Her postdoctoral fellowship is funded by Professor MacDonnell’s project “Unwritten Constitutional Principles and Norms: A Comparative Study”, which takes a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to examining unwritten constitutional principles and norms spanning three countries (Canada, the UK and Germany). The project is funded by the Open Research Area (ORA) 7 agreement for social sciences research.  

Dr. Murray’s research focuses on the ways in which unwritten constitutional principles and norms are power-conferring in nature. Most case law and scholars assume that unwritten constitutional principles are either justified or not justified because they constrain the decision-making of the executive and legislative branches. But this assumption overlooks the important enabling nature of constitutions. Despite the written Constitution’s more obvious role in conferring and structuring powers, no systematic research has been conducted into whether unwritten aspects of the Constitution are power-conferring. Dr. Murray’s postdoctoral project aims to fill that gap. 

Dr. Murray’s research builds on her doctorate (McGill University, 2023) and her LLM (University of Cambridge, 2014). In her doctoral dissertation, she argued that the duty of reasonableness in administrative law and the duty of loyalty in trusts law are both power-conferring. Her dissertation has been nominated for the Minerve award and was funded by the prestigious Vanier Scholarship.  

Joanne is also assisting the Public Law Centre in organizing the Public Law Conference, which will be held at uOttawa in July 2024. 

Those wishing to connect with Dr. Murray can reach her at [email protected]