The Common Law: A History


Book Information

Release date 2012-09-30
Format Paperback
ISBN 9781921875663

SKU: 266 Category:


‘To understand the common law of England, you have to understand that to the extent that you can talk sensibly of a legal system having roots – either intellectual or ethnic – the roots of English law are German, not Roman.’

‘Trying to put anything resembling a code over the common law is like mixing Tuscan olive oil with Devonshire cider or a Moselle Riesling with Yorkshire ale.’

It is an article of faith in the legal profession that knowledge of the law only comes with practice. We are the result of experience – we come from our history. It is therefore sad that we have stopped teaching legal history either at law school or bar school. Lawyers without history are like doctors without science. From Hammurabi to Guantanamo Bay, this book gives an outline of the history of the common law and rule of law. This is the minimum learning required for anyone wanting to be a member of a learned profession and not just a bean counter.

‘The speed of trials in the past comes as a shock to us now.’

‘Judges think that it is a good idea to report judgments to make new law. Nothing could be further from the truth … We pay judges, and we pay them handsomely, to decide cases, not to build monuments to what they fondly see as jurisprudence.’

‘Juries keep judges honest. They also keep them in touch and judges need to be kept in touch.’

Author information

Geoffrey Gibson


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