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since 20/12/2009


General Smuts, South Africa - Antony Lentin 29/06/2010

General Smuts- the fatherof reconciliation?

General Smuts, South Africa - Antony Lentin An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers The World Cup may have raised South Africa’s sporting profile, but for our money, her history is much more fascinating – hence the interest and timeliness of Tony Lentin’s latest historical biography of General Smuts. General Smuts was South Africa’s Prime Minster at the time of the Second World War, fighting on Britain’s side as a British Field Marshal. In Churchill’s opinion, he was “one of the most enlightened, courageous and noble-minded men of the twentieth century.” The first thing you notice when you open the book is the quotation from Smuts’s remark to Sir Alfred Milner in 1905: ‘History writes the word ‘reconciliation’ over all her quarrels.’ One wonders whether Nelson Mandela was familiar with this utterance, took it to heart and enshrined it in the title of his ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ initiative which continues to inform and inspire the continuing if difficult development of contemporary South Africa, with its agonizing mixture of almost intractable problems. Well, who knows? It seems apparent however, that ‘reconciliation’ has become part of the collective mind-set of South Africa. Historians are aware (but general readers all too often aren’t) that Smuts’s achievements and influence were by no means local to South Africa. He was, as author Tony Lentin points out, ‘the heart and conscience of the Paris Peace Conference’ in the aftermath of the First World War and ...

The Oxford History of the Laws of England - Patrick Polden 16/06/2010

How the law we know actually came to be

The Oxford History of the Laws of England - Patrick Polden Devotees of that formidably superb series, ‘The Oxford History of the Laws of England’ will be delighted that the last three volumes of the series, Volumes XI, XII and XIII are now out and about – published as a set – for the edification of legal scholars everywhere, as well as interested general readers. They cover 1820-1914 – from the coronation of George IV to the outbreak of World War I -- the Great War -- against Germany. The dizzying pace of economic, technological and social change during this turbulent period – encompassing the Victorian era of course -- gave rise to momentous legal developments and in turn were profoundly affected by them. Like the rest of the series, which commendably draws heavily on research using unpublished materials, these three volumes provide a detailed survey of English law, its institutions and the historical forces which impinged on them. As the authors point out in the introduction, ‘any legal history worth salting’ must deal not only with the law, but how and why it developed – ‘the shifts in the law itself and the rationalizations offered for them’. A legal history should also look at outcomes, say the authors,‘ for most legal change produces unintended effects.’ And so it transpires in these three erudite and very readable volumes. Vol XI deals for the most part with the structure of the English legal system, including its constitutional framework. Volume XII deals with Private law and its evolution and adaptation to a more ...

Bewigged and Bewildered? - Adam Kramer 14/06/2010

The jargon-busting guide...

The Last Political Law Lord: Lord Sumner (1859-1934) - Antony Lentin 14/06/2010

Summing up Sumner

The Last Political Law Lord: Lord Sumner (1859-1934) - Antony Lentin SUMMING UP SUMNER An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers ‘A legal and literary genius’: such is the picture of Lord Sumner that emerges from this very scholarly, as well as readable and thought provoking biography. By all accounts John Andrew Hamilton, Lord Sumner (1859-1934) was a powerhouse of a man; one of those formidable figures in the law who, in the words of Lord Bingham, ‘forged the legal traditions which we have been privileged to inherit and enjoy.’ No longer widely known, this often controversial law lord was legendary in his time. By chance, as the author Antony Lentin points out, 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of Sumner’s birth, the 75th of his death, the centenary of his promotion to the Bench, the 80th anniversary of his last year on the Bench and the 90th of his secondment to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, in a move described as unparalleled for a law lord. He was apparently accused by John Maynard Keynes as being largely responsible for the heavy financial penalties exacted following the Conference against a defeated Germany. Such controversy (as well as approval) occasioned by his strong views and forceful utterances was not untypical of his life. Few, however, questioned his standing. In 1934, the year of his death, one, Sir Louis Stuart, referred to him as ‘one of the greatest lawyers who ever advised or argued, and one of the greatest judges who ever decided a cause.’ Characterising Lord ...

Construction Contracts: Law and Practice - Richard Wilmot-Smith QC 14/06/2010

Building on the success of the past

The Path to Pupillage - Alexander Robson, Georgina Wolfe 14/06/2010

The best of the contemporary pupillage guides

The Jurisprudence of Lord Denning - Charles Stephens 14/06/2010

One of the most influential judges of 20th century

The Jurisprudence of Lord Denning - Charles Stephens A three volume tribute to the memory of Lord Denning. An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers ‘Possibly the most interesting judge of the twentieth century’. This is how Lord Denning has often been described and this three volume work by Charles Stephens is a tribute to his memory. ‘I always felt reassured by Lord Denning’s presence in our national life,’ avers Stephens. ‘At the back of my mind I felt that we were all safe as long as he was Master of the Rolls,’ he adds, recalling that ‘the origins of this project lie in those memories.’ Stephens is an historian, we assume, and writes of Denning from an historian’s rather than necessarily a lawyer’s point of view; no bad thing when you consider the avowedly circular argument that the decisions of judges shape history and conversely tides and trends in history shape, or least wield considerable influence in shaping the decisions of judges. Viewing Lord Denning from an historian’s eye view offers academic and general readers alike a useful perspective on the influence judicial decisions are likely to have on the body politic, which in turn influences everyday life – the ‘quotidian world’ as Stephens puts it. Examples abound of how his background, education and family life informed and influenced Lord Denning’s attitudes and judgments, some of which remain controversial and topical to this day: single mums…the family…domestic violence…identity and nationality… ...

Privacy: A Very Short Introduction - Raymond Wacks 14/06/2010

Are you being watched?

Privacy: A Very Short Introduction - Raymond Wacks FREE SPEECH ECLIPSED An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers Raymond Wacks has created an in-depth exploration in only 150 pages, of the increasingly complex and controversial subject of privacy with this new addition to the OUP’s ‘Very Short Introduction’ series of pocket-sized books on academic subjects; short enough that is, for beleaguered commuters to read on the train, or, say, harassed lawyers to read in the courtroom corridor. This book is one of over 200 small-format books in this admirable series which covers everything from African history to Wittgenstein and world trade. Written by experts, they are intended as a stimulating and accessible way into a new subject – and very accessible they are, Professor Wacks’s ‘Privacy’ being a prime example. As he states in the Preface, Professor Wacks’s association with privacy and data protection has been from a legal perspective; the law, in his words, being ‘an indispensable instrument in the protection of privacy.’ The subject however encompasses other dimensions -- social, cultural political and psychological. Professor Wacks’s stated aim is ‘to consider these—and several other -- forces that shape our understanding of this challenging concept.’ Speaking of law and lawyers, there is, to my knowledge, no more erudite and persuasive an advocate for protecting privacy than Professor Wacks. If you ever find yourself in a debate on privacy versus free speech, this is ...

Love Letters From The Bar Table - Shane Dowling 14/06/2010

Natural justice and the new 'Table Talk'

Love Letters From The Bar Table - Shane Dowling An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE of Richmond Green Chambers I’m always interested in the cross section of law books depicting the working of the common law across its jurisdictions. When I came across this curious self published work, ‘Love Letters from the Bar Table’, from Shane Dowling, who has a certain number of ‘issues’ with the legal establishment in Australia, I thought it was worth looking at further. A doctrine which is gaining international popularity at present is called ‘judicial recusal’ where a judge stands aside (or is made to stand aside) in certain circumstances based on the two main rules of natural justice: namely, a judge may not act in his own cause; and both sides must be heard. New Zealand academic Grant Hammond has written a definitive work on the current state of the law. I think it’s a fair comment to say that we do not have any recognised corruption within the judiciary in the United Kingdom. I, for one, have grave reservations about the strength of any argument suggesting forms of corruption elsewhere amongst judges because of the catastrophic constitutional implications involved. So, what I am saying here is that I have no idea of the rights and wrongs of Shane Dowling’s detailed case. I don’t offer an opinion although I have read his documents and his views in the book in some detail. What I do say, however, is that I feel the worth of this book merits some consideration in relation to the basic concepts we hold true in the ...

Lexcel Client Care Toolkit - The Law Society 14/06/2010

So, you're managing your practice admirably...

Bonfire Of The Liberties - K.D. Ewing 14/06/2010

All fired up for change in 2010

Bonfire Of The Liberties - K.D. Ewing The book is rightly subtitled “New Labour, Human Rights and the Rule of Law” and describes, with examples, the erosion of our civil liberties since 1997. It starts ominously with this statement: “we live in a society where he police have more power, where we are watched and monitored more closely and more often, and in which our ability to speak out and protest is subject to more and more restraints”. A damning indictment of New Labour, many may feel, if ever there was one. Ewing does say that many people do not share his views although ‘at best they may share the concerns’ and that really sums up the worth of the work- it’s a collection of statements on areas of the law which affect the direct relationship between the State and its people with worrying conclusions. There are 8 chapter headings in 300 pages covering all the usual ‘liberty’ issues and there are some useful cases and statutes cited. It’s very readable and something which all MPs ought to read, especially the new intake from 6th May 2010. Probably the single most important theme is the erosion of individual rights by the state and Ewing backs up each topical issue with breathless detail to justify the assertions made. Ewing also knows a few of the tricks about reviews because he says that normally only the introduction and conclusion of most books are read. This book is different, however, because the wealth of detail on what can be termed ‘abuses’ by the state are well worth reading in detail ...

Pleading Guilty - Paul Genney 12/06/2010

Never Plead Guilty, but do read this novel

Pleading Guilty - Paul Genney HE'S NOT SUCH A WALLY! Paul Genney weaves a good tale with this patchwork legal quilt of ‘fly on the wall’ vignettes linked to his character, ‘Wally’ Wallace of Whitebait Chambers, up north. We met Paul recently and he outlined his book, which took our attention so we read it with interest after the defining Mortimer years with Rumpole and Sir John’s concerns over ‘New’ Labour changes to our profession which seem to have set the current precedent in modern legal characters after Henry Cecil’s Roger Thursby in the Fifties, (which was controversial enough in its time.) Most practising barristers will identify very quickly with the issues confronting our flawed hero, Henry Wallace. We’re not giving the plot away, but let us just say that Genney falls nicely into the Somerset Maugham concept of the novel which should end with a death or a marriage, or so Willie said in his most esoteric work ‘The Razor’s Edge’ (which didn’t). Read ‘Pleading Guilty’ and you will see the nice twists as they develop. It is a book for today with the nice, under-done boot kicking softly at the legal establishment, born more out of a frustration with the system which we all feel from time to time. This snapshot of legal life has the statutory four letter words -a bit too many, but probably at the publishers’ insistence if modern success in getting published is anything to go by. Some were rather unnecessary as most of these words are normally ‘quotes in court’ and not that often heard in the ...

Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Lynne Truss 12/06/2010

Punctuation: the endangered system

The Judicial House of Lords - Louis Blom-Cooper 12/06/2010

The judicial House of Lords

Palmer on Bailment - Norman Palmer 12/06/2010


Palmer on Bailment - Norman Palmer THAT RAPIDLY CHANGING AREA OF LAW THAT ‘ATTRACTS COLOURFUL CHARACTERS’ An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers If you are involved as a practitioner in any aspect of bailment, you’ll certainly need the new and latest edition of this definitive and authoritative work on the subject -- the first to be published in 18 years. Since then, as the author puts it, the subject has moved with the times…both in doctrinal development and in commercial application….’ Lucidly and engagingly written, this definitive work, not only provides comprehensive analysis of bailment, with guidance on litigation and pleading, but illuminates what Norman Palmer refers to as ‘the alluring qualities of bailment’ which, in his words, ‘remains largely the child of the common law’. He refers, intriguingly in the preface to an ‘engaging feature of bailment; the ‘beguiling dramatis personae that haunt its pages’. Remember the one about the compulsive shopper who hoarded thousands of unpacked merchandise in her apartment? It and any number of numerous other examples pertaining to bailment should provide you with much erudite insight and certainly entertaining reading if you are of a mind to bring your knowledge and understanding of bailment completely up to date. ‘These newcomers, says the author, now join ‘the bear-skinning septuagenarian doctor, the “home alone” daughter, the deciduous brothel client, (yes, ‘deciduous’) the deviant coachman and the ...
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