Saturday, 10 March 2012

'Our Lady of the Common Law' .. ICLR Lecture, Lord Justice Laws

On Thursday 1st March I had the privilege of attending the ICLR lecture at the Law Society. For anyone who's in and around London the lectures that are put on either here or other institutions are well worth going to as a compliment to the studies. What this day did for me was to bring the common law alive, up until now I had only read the law online, or in texts, but now I was entering the dominion of the law makers.

I traveled down with five Wolverhampton LLB students, one of whom is a friend. It was great to mix with other LLB students, something that I miss going the distance degree route. Upon arrival at Euston I made my way to Senate House as i'd never visited there before, the other students wanted to see some sights before the 6pm lecture. It was great to get into the Senate House Library, though the law library is much smaller than I thought. Afterwards I met up with Norman Baird who writes the subject guides for Criminal Law and runs the QED revision seminars, it was nice to put a real life face to someone i know online.

The Law Society at Chancery Lane is a fantastic building. I'd been there once before for some Intervention Action Team training on the Lawyers for Lawyers program.

Lord Justice Laws, famous for Thoburn v Sunderland City Council decision on a 'heirarchy' of constitutional statutes that cannot be impiedly repealed, gave the lecture. In the room were many of the legal profession, including the counsel on the GCHQ case.

The way he described the common law was like nothing i'd heard before. He described the development of the common law being based on 'an inherent moral force', as fourfold; evolution, experiment, history and distillation, that these elements operate together. I really enjoyed his analogy of the common law being like Darwinian evolution, a survival of the fittest, as society changes so does the evolution of the common law. He compared the difference between the GCHQ and De Keyser's Royal Hotel cases, how within 60 years the Royal Prerogative went from being off limits to the courts jurisdiction, to now coming within the courts jurisdiction.

Afterwards I had a chance to meet him and had a little chat, I found him both warm and friendly. It was great to put a face to these judgements and fantastic experience, I'll certainly do it more often in the future.

A full text of the article can be read here. It certainly added something to my view of the common law, I'd suggest any student to read it.

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