Profile image of Bruce Chen

Dr Bruce Chen



Senior Lecturer, Law


Faculty of Business and Law


Deakin Law School


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Graduate Certificate of Higher Ed. Learning & Teaching, Deakin University, 2022
Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University, 2020
Master of Laws ( International and Comparative Law), Monash University, 2013

+61 3 924 45945


Bruce Chen is a Senior Lecturer in Deakin Law School.  He was an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow from 2021-2023.

Bruce's research and teaching interests are in human rIghts law, public law, and statutory interpretation.

His PhD (Monash University) and Research Fellowship project (Deakin University) researched statutory interpretation using human rights, common law rights and freedoms, and constitutional freedoms. 

Bruce has previously worked in several senior legal and legal policy advisory positions within the Victorian public service.  He is passionate about working in government as a potential career pathway for students and new lawyers.

Bruce has worked in the following government roles:

  • Principal Legal Policy Officer, and later Acting Manager, Human Rights Unit, Department of Justice and Community Safety
  • Senior Legal Adviser, Legal Unit, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC)
  • Senior Solicitor, Government and Public Law Branch, Victorian Government Solicitor's Office (VGSO)
  • Solicitor assisting General Counsel, VGSO
  • VGSO team supervisor and advocate, Child Protection Litigation Office, Department of Human Services (secondment).

Bruce had a broad practice base in human rights, particularly the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (the Charter), public law and statutory interpretation.  He provided advice to the Attorney-General for the State of Victoria, Secretaries to Departments, Commissioners and other public servants.  Bruce was co-coordinator of the Victorian Public Sector Human Rights Network, hosted by VEOHRC.

Prior to this, Bruce was a judge's associate in the Supreme Court of Victoria and to past President of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the Honourable Justice Kevin Bell AM QC.  He worked with his Honour on a number of early precedential cases on the Charter and across a range of matters (residential tenancies, mental health, anti-discrimination, planning and environment, and FOI).

Bruce has previously taught at La Trobe Law School as a seminar leader/tutor, in a education project team nominated as a finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission's Government Award 2018, and as a volunteer tutor for AMES Australia.

Bruce has extensive experience presenting on human rights law and public law, and has provided media commentary on such issues.  He has a particular interest in Australasian bills of rights, and has been a visiting scholar at the University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Read more on Bruce's profile

Research interests

  • Human Rights Law, particularly bills of rights, civil and political rights
  • Public Law
  • Statutory Interpretation


  • Member, Law Institute of Victoria (LIV); and LIV Human Rights Committee
  • Member, Australian Institute of Administrative Law
  • Member, International Society of Public Law (Australia and New Zealand chapter)
  • Member, Australasian Law Academics Association (ALAA); and ALAA Early Career Academic Network

Teaching interests

  • Human Rights Law
  • Administrative Law
  • Statutory Interpretation
  • Constitutional Law

Units taught

  • MLL211/MLJ733 - Human Rights Law
  • MLL424 - Administrative Law
  • MLL323 - Constitutional Law
  • MLJ701 - Legal Method and Statutory Interpretation


  • 'The Principle of Legality in the context of COVID-19 Pandemic Litigation' (Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies ‘Brown Bag’ Seminar, Melbourne Law School, 18 October 2022)
  • ‘COVID-19 Stay at Home Restrictions and the Interpretation of Emergency Powers’ (Paper presented at Public Law Conference, Dublin, 7 July 2022)
  • 'Constitutional Freedoms: Relevance to Statutory Discretions' (Paper presented at Australian Institute of Administrative Law, National Administrative Law Conference - converted into webinar due to COVID-19 pandemic, 17 August 2021)
  • ‘Public Law Teaching in a Time of Emergency’ (Panelist at Public Law in the Classroom Workshop, 11 February 2021)
  • ‘Delegated Legislation and Rights-based Interpretation’ (Paper presented at Interpreting Executive Power Workshop, UNSW, Sydney, 14 December 2018)

Media appearances

  • Bruce Chen, ‘The Principle of Legality and Australian COVID-19 Litigation’ on Administrative Law in the Common Law World (1 December 2022) <>
  • Cameron Houston and Tammy Mills, ‘Vaccine Rule Challenge will Exceed 100 Plaintiffs’, The Age (Melbourne), 23 October 2021 (interviewed)
  • Bruce Chen, ‘Why Vax Mandate is Delicate’, Herald Sun (Melbourne), 4 October 2021
  • Bruce Chen, 'Our Human Rights Still Remain', Herald Sun (Melbourne), 17 September 2020
  • Nicola Berkovic, ‘Civil Liberties have been put at Risk’, The Australian (Sydney), 26 August 2020 (interviewed)
  • Bruce Chen, ‘Andrews is Walking a Fine Line with Victorians’ Trust by Moving to Extend the State of Emergency’, Herald Sun (Melbourne), 25 August 2020
  • Bruce Chen, 'Masks are Fit for Purpose', Herald Sun (Melbourne), 11 August 2020
  • Bruce Chen, ‘Premier to be applauded for pursuing Human Rights Act’, The Courier Mail (Brisbane), 2 November 2016
  • Bruce Chen, ‘The Principle of Legality and Section 32(1) of the Charter: Same Same or Different?’ on AUSPUBLAW (26 October 2016) <>


  • Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (2021-23)
  • Winner, Emeritus Professor HP Lee Students' Publication Prize, Monash University (2019)
  • Team member, Charter Education Project, shortlisted finalist for Australian Human Rights Commission's Government Award (2018)
  • Runner up, Emeritus Professor HP Lee Students' Publication Prize, Monash University (2016)
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (2016-17)


'Rights-based statutory interpretation in Australia' (Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship) 2021-2023


Filter by


Constitutional Freedoms: Relevance to Statutory Discretions?

Bruce Chen

(2023), Vol. 53, pp. 58-84, Australian Bar Review, Sydney, N.S.W., C1

journal article

The Nelson Inquest: Relevance of the Victorian Charter to the Coronial Function of Preventing Deaths in Custody

Bruce Chen, Mackay Anita

(2023), Vol. 48, pp. 245-251, Alternative Law Journal, Melbourne, Vic., C1

journal article

No Way Out? Australia's Overseas Travel Ban and Rights-based Interpretation

Bruce Chen

(2022), Vol. 10, pp. 53-79, Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity, Gold Coast, Qld., C1

journal article

COVID-19 Stay at Home Restrictions and the Interpretation of Emergency Powers: A Comparative Analysis

B Chen

(2022), Vol. 20, pp. 1-23, Statute Law Review, Oxford, Eng., C1

journal article

The Victorian COVID-19 Response: Reflections on Loielo v Giles

Bruce Chen

(2021), Vol. 32, pp. 8-16, Public Law Review, Sydney, N.S.W., C1

journal article

The COVID-19 border closure to India: Would an Australian Human Rights Act have made a difference?

B Chen

(2021), Vol. 46, pp. 320-325, Alternative Law Journal, C1

journal article

The Quiet Demise of Declarations of Inconsistency under the Victorian Charter

Bruce Chen

(2021), Vol. 44, pp. 928-962, Melbourne University Law Review, Melbourne, Vic., C1

journal article

Delegated Legislation and Rights-Based Interpretation

Bruce Chen

(2020), pp. 90-110, Interpreting executive power, Sydney, N.S.W., B1-1

book chapter

The Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld): Some perspectives from Victoria

B Chen

(2020), Vol. 45, pp. 4-11, Alternative Law Journal, C1-1

journal article

The principle of legality and s 32(1) of the Victorian Charter: is the latter a codification of the former?

Bruce Chen

(2020), Vol. 31, pp. 444-462, Public law review, North Ryde, N.S.W., C1

journal article

The regulation of hair: a hairy issue for equality and human rights?

B Chen

(2020), Vol. 26, pp. 366-374, Australian journal of human rights, Abingdon, Eng., C1

journal article


Bruce Chen

(2020), Vol. 46, pp. 174-227, MONASH UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW, C1

journal article

The principle of legality: Protecting statutory rights from statutory infringement?

Bruce Chen

(2019), Vol. 41, pp. 73-104, Sydney Law Review, Sydney, N.S.W., C1-1

journal article

The French Court and the Principle of Legality

Bruce Chen

(2018), Vol. 41, pp. 401-448, University of New South Wales Law Journal, [Kensington, N.S.W.], C1-1

journal article

How Does the Charter Affect Discretions? The Limits of Section 38(1) and Beyond

Bruce Chen

(2018), Vol. 25, pp. 28-51, Australian Journal of Administrative Law, Sydney, N.S.W., C1-1

journal article

The Principle of Legality: Issues of Rationale and Application

Bruce Chen

(2016), Vol. 41, pp. 329-341, Monash University Law Review, Melbourne, Victoria, C1-1

journal article

Plaintiff S99 and the Expansion of the Principle of Legality

Bruce Chen

(2016), Vol. 27, pp. 173-180, Public Law Review, Sydney, N.S.W., C1-1

journal article

Section 32(1) of the Charter: Confining Discretions Compatibly with Charter Rights?

Bruce Chen

(2016), Vol. 42, pp. 608-637, Monash University Law Review, Clayton, Vic., C1-1

journal article

When is "Unlawful" Unlawful?

Bruce Chen

(2015), Vol. 89, pp. 54-57, Law Institute Journal, Melbourne, Vic., C1-1

journal article

A right to reasons: osmond in light of contemporary developments in administrative law

Bruce Chen

(2014), Vol. 21, pp. 208-226, Australian journal of administrative law, Rozelle, N.S.W., C1-1

journal article

Making Sense of Momcilovic: The Court of Appeal, Statutory Interpretation and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006

Bruce Chen

(2013), pp. 64-72, AIAL Forum, Canberra, A.C.T., C1-1

journal article

Recognition of the human right to water: has the tide turned?

Paula Gerber, Bruce Chen

(2011), Vol. 36, pp. 21-26, Alternative law journal, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Refusing to process voluminous requests: contrary to the spirit of freedom of information?

Bruce Chen

(2011), Vol. 37, pp. 132-154, Monash University law review, Clayton, Vic., C1

journal article


Bruce Chen

(2011), Vol. 37, pp. 132-154, MONASH UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW, C1-1

journal article

Funded Projects at Deakin

No Funded Projects at Deakin found


No completed student supervisions to report