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Centenary medal for Prof. Ratnapala

Sunday Observer May 11 2003

Professor Suri Ratnapala has been awarded a Centenary Medal by the Governor-General of Australia for service to Australian Society through his writings in the fields of law and economics. The awards announced on ANZAC Day commemorate the Centenary of the Australian Federation.

Prof. Ratnapala is recognised for his ground-breaking studies on the constitutional underpinnings of market economies and on the evolution of legal institutions. In 1991, he received the Sir Anthony Fisher International Memorial Award for his book Welfare State or Constitutional State? from a jury chaired by Nobel Laureate Economist James Buchanan.

The Anthony Fisher Awards are granted to books that make the 'greatest contributions to public understanding of the free society'.

In 2000, he received a John Templeton Foundation Award for teaching in constitutional political economy granted 'on the basis of uniqueness, innovation, and interdisciplinarity' and its 'balance of political, economic and social theory'. In 1998, professor Ratnapala became the only Sri Lanka born scholar to be elected to the prestigious Mont Pelerin Society, the international association of classical liberal scholars founded by Nobel Prize winner F. A. Hayek. Professor Ratnapala's treatise Australian Constitutional Law: Foundations and Theory was published by Oxford University Press, last year.

Prof. Ratnapala's work on constitutionalism and the emergence of legal and social structures draws on the rich traditon of evolutionary theory commenced by the Scottish moral phlosophers and continued in the 19th and 20th centuries by the Australia school of economics. His work has been described as having successfully integrated the central ideas of the evolutionary tradition with modern developments in the philosophy of science, complexity theory and institutional economics. In doing so he has introduced substantive legal content to a field largely occupied by economists and demonstrated the practical relevance of this tradition to contemporary problems in governance and legal development.

His most recent research on moral capital in commercial society will be published in the United States later this year.

Prof. Ratnapala is a graduate of the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo and an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. Before commencing his academic career he served as a Senior State Counsel in the Attorney-General's Department.