CEDANT: agere per formulas. Collegium of Roman Law, January 2022

All legal historians know the importance of procedure. This is very obvious in the case of Roman law. it is therefore worth noting that the 15th cedant at Pavia is devoted to the topic, “Agere per formulas: The Forms and Dynamics of Civil Justice in the Roman World”, under the direction of Dario Mantovani (Collège de France) and Luigi Pellecchi (University of Pavia). This will be an intensive course of study over three weeks, aimed at early career scholars, and will be taught in English and Italian by notable scholars (including our own Paul du Plessis. For details, see https://www.ghislieri.it/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/manif-CEDANT-2022-inglese-2.pdf Poster below:


Law and Life of Pompeii: 1 October 2021, Brasenose College, Oxford

The new discoveries at Pompeii and the growth of interest in the insights into law provided  by archaeology and vice versa have led to the organisation of a conference at Oxford by Peter Candy of the University of Edinburgh and Marguerite Ronin of the C.N.R.S. The meeting brings together specialists from a range of disciplines to discuss the role of Roman law in the governance of Pompeii and the everyday lives of its inhabitants.  Inspired by John Crook’s classic  ‘Law and Life of Rome’, this new initiative takes a fresh look at some challenging questions concerning the relationship between law and society in the Roman world through the lens of the archaeological and epigraphic evidence at the site of Pompeii together with the classical juristic texts. The meeting will take place on Friday 1 October at Brasenose College, Oxford, with support from the John Fell and Craven funds.
For information, please contact: pcandy2@exseed.ed.ac.uk & marguerite.ronin@cnrs.fr
(click to enlarge)

Sir Anthony Hart Memorial Lecture in Legal History

Readers of this blog may be interested in the event below. Those familiar with Irish History will note the significance of the date.


 Sir Anthony Hart Memorial Committee 

22 September 2021 

The Sir Anthony Hart Memorial Lecture entitled “1798: A tale of two barristers” to be delivered on Thursday 11 November 2021 

Dear colleagues and friends, 

As many of you will be aware, Sir Anthony Hart was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1969. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1983. In 1985 he was appointed a County Court Judge and Recorder of Londonderry in that year. In 1997 he became Recorder of Belfast, and in 2002, the first presiding judge of the county courts. He was appointed to the High Court in 2005 where he was responsible, amongst other things, for a series of high-profile criminal trials and the pre-trial case management of all the crown court trials conducted by High Court judges. In this role he also sat on the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland until his retirement in January 2012. 

Following retirement, between 2012 and 2017 Sir Anthony chaired the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse 1922 to 1995. Thereafter, he was appointed visiting professor at Queen’s University Belfast, and on 2 May 2019 he delivered the MacDermott Lecture entitled “Public inquiries and their role in civic society – Past, Present and Future.” 

Among his many interests, was the history of the law. A former president of the Irish Legal History Society, he was awarded the Society’s Gold Medal in 2012. His interest culminated in his 2013 work, “A History of the Bar and Inn of Court of Northern Ireland”. 

On 9 July 2019, at the age of 73, Sir Anthony died suddenly. The Benchers of the Inn of Court considered it appropriate that his services to the law be remembered and to that end the Sir Anthony Hart Memorial Committee was set up under my Chairmanship. 

Since the committee was formed, it has discussed plans with the aim of remembering the contribution that Sir Anthony has made. Our first task has been to organise and hold a lecture which will focus on Sir Anthony’s keen interest in legal history. 

The Sir Anthony Hart Memorial Lecture will take place on Thursday 11 November 2021 at 18.15 in the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland. The lecture will be given by Justice of the Supreme Court, The Right Honourable Lord Stephens of Creevyloughgare. Lord Stephens was one of Sir Anthony’s pupils at the Bar. 

Due to present restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is only possible for us to have a small number of people physically present for the lecture. However, to give as many as we can the opportunity to attend, it will be possible to access the event remotely. If you are interested in attending remotely then we would be grateful if you would email Lisa Mayes at Lisa.Mayes@barofni.org by 5pm on 22 October 2021. You will thereafter be provided with login details about how to access the event. 

We look forward to you joining with us on 11 November 2021. 

Yours respectfully, 

Joseph Aiken QC 

Chair of the Sir Anthony Hart Memorial Committee 


On 6 September 2021, Lord Matthews sentenced Nathan Shaw and John Lawrie to imprisonment. The report of his sentencing statement reveals that the two had earlier pled guilty to the crime of Hamesucken. The facts reveal that the accused did indeed pursue someone into his house in order to assault him, classic hamesucken. The report of the sentencing statement https://www.judiciary.scot/home/sentences-judgments/sentences-and-opinions/2021/09/06/hma-v-nathan-shaw-and-john-lawrie suggests that the indictment had used “hamesucken” as a nomen juris rather setting out an assault that was aggravated as to place. Hamesucken was a capital crime until 1887. The requirement of a nomen juris in an indictment was also abolished in 1887. The term has lingered on, however, often in references by judges to the formerly capital nature of offences committed by accused before them. The brief report of this on the twitter account of Judges Scotland elicited some comments of astonishment at the term. Indeed none of the newspaper reports that your blogger has found use the term, talking instead of the accused “pouncing” or “ambushing”.

The word was well known in Scots law in the past, and is an interesting example of the survival in Scots law of an Anglo-Saxon term and legal concept. It is interesting to note that the modern Danish “hjemsøge” and German “heimsuchen”, as well as their literal meaning, have the connotations of “hounding”, plaguing”, “persecuting” and “pestering” (I owe this insight to Professor Knud Haakonssen). The etymology can be further explored by reading Colman “Hamsocn: Its meaning and significance in early English law” (1981) 25 American Journal of Legal History, 95. Your blogger has always found hamesucken of interest and has discussed it in the past. That the term is found in Danish reminds your blogger of the fact that any Scot listening to popular “Scandi-noir” programmes on T.V. realises that Scots shares quite a number of words with the Nordic languages.

Thai Legal HIstory

The Centre for Legal History at Edinburgh is delighted to note the publication by Cambridge University Press of Thai Legal History: From Traditional to Modern Law, edited by Andrew Harding and Munin Pongsapan. The latter wrote the thesis for his Edinburgh Ph.D. on “The Reception of Foreign Private Law in Thailand: A Case Study of Specific Performance”, and is currently serving as Dean of the Law School of Thammasat University. Andrew Harding is a noted comparative scholar and expert in Asian legal studies based ate National University of Singapore. This work will open to a wider world the rich content and the fascination of the legal history of Thailand. See https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/thai-legal-history/9921886F17F6CBE2E0B37FAB9B8F754E 



Chair in Legal History Tilburg

The field of legal history is currently represented at Tilburg Law School within the Department of Global Law and Governance by a team of 5 tenured/tenure track faculty (1 part-time professor, 1 associate professor, 3 assistant professors), plus a varying number of junior lecturers and PhD fellows. (See [here]). The group provides several mandatory courses at the bachelor level in the LLB Dutch Law (Europese Rechtsgeschiedenis, The World’s Legal Systems) and the LLB Global Law (History of International Law; Global Legal History). It also offers legal history courses in at the master level and general history courses in the University’s bachelor in Liberal Arts and Sciences. It presently has two main research focuses: history of international law and, more recently, history of economic law. Both are included in the department’s research program Global Law and Governance.

The new chair in legal history is expected to develop an own research line and provide intellectual inspiration and leadership to the legal historians at Tilburg. The acquisition of external research funding is part of the portfolio of tasks. She/he will take a prominent and visible role in teaching, both in the mandatory courses at the bachelor level and in optional courses at the master level. Teaching may both be in English as in Dutch. She/he will also be available for managerial tasks within the department and the law school.

British Legal History Conference, Belfast, 2022: Extension of time for submission of proposals to 27 September, 2021

The 25th British Legal History Conference 2022
In association with the Irish Legal History Society

Queen’s University, Belfast
6-9 July 2022


Abstracts are invited for the 25th BRITISH LEGAL HISTORY CONFERENCE which is being run jointly with the Irish Legal History Society and hosted by Queen’s University Belfast, on Wednesday 6 July – Saturday 9 July 2022.

The conference was originally scheduled for 2021. Queen’s, Belfast, was given the honour of hosting the BLHC in 2021, because it is a significant year in the “Decade of Centenaries” in Ireland, north and south, marking both the centenary of the opening in June 1921 of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, and the centenary of the signing of articles of agreement for the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921, leading to the establishment of the Irish Free State. The conference theme, “Law and Constitutional Change”, was chosen against this background. The Covid-19 pandemic intervened, making postponement unavoidable.

Organising the conference in 2022 will, however, allow us to celebrate the half-centenary of the British Legal History Conference, first held in Aberystwyth in 1972. Our hope is that attendance at the conference can be in person, but this will be kept under review and, if necessary, the option of online attendance/participation will be considered.

Conference papers can examine from any historical perspective the relationship between law and constitutional change. The difficulty of defining constitutional change was noted by the Select Committee on the Constitution in their report, The Process of Constitutional Change (HL Paper 177, 2011, para. 10), but they identified several examples, without being exhaustive: parliamentary sovereignty; the rule of law and the rights and liberties of the individual; the union state; representative government; and state membership of international organisations, such as (then) the EU and the Commonwealth. These are, of course, only examples and the conference theme will be interpreted in all its breadth.

In the context of present-day analysis of the political and constitutional upheavals in British-Irish relations in the early 1920s, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has adopted the Irish word, Machnamh, meaning reflection, contemplation, meditation and thought, for a series of online reflections – https://president.ie/en/diary/details/president-hosts-machnamh-100-event In the spirit of Machnamh, we invite you to join the conversation on law and constitutional change in Queen’s, Belfast, in July 2022.


Please note the following rules:
– If you submitted an abstract in 2020, you must make a fresh submission.
– Abstracts must be for individual papers only, not for panels. Co-authored papers are acceptable.
– Only one abstract should be submitted per person.
– Abstracts must be submitted as Microsoft Word documents using the online portal on the Call for Papers page of the conference website. Please do not submit by email.
– Abstracts must not exceed 500 words.
– Please indicate if your proposal is contingent on the availability of an option of online participation.
– The deadline for submission of abstracts is Monday 27 September 2021.
– Queries can be emailed to BLHC-2022-info@qub.ac.uk
– At the conference, individual oral presentations will last 15-20 minutes.

We hope to publish the programme on the conference website in October 2021. Details of plenary speakers will also appear there in due course.

Proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are welcome.

Further information about travel to Belfast, accommodation, and so on, will be added to the conference website during 2021-2022: https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/BLH-Conference-2022/

Poster competition

This, the second joint BLHC – ILHS conference, was proposed by Sir Anthony Hart, retired High Court judge, former president of ILHS and enthusiastic supporter of BLHCs, who died suddenly in July 2019. A poster competition is planned during the 2022 conference as a tribute to Tony. There will be two prizes, including one for the PGR/early career category. The prizes are generously funded by the Journal of Legal History and by the Irish Legal History Society. Details of the competition will be posted on the conference website.

Legal Biographies Project – SLS/LSE

The Legal History Section of the Society of Legal Scholars and LSE’s Legal Biography Project are holding a joint online workshop on Legal Biographies on the afternoons of 9 and 10 September 2021.


The programme is as follows


9th September 15.00-18.00 BST: Lives in Context


15.05-15.55 BST: Morad El Kadmiri (UCL Faculty of Laws)

Wigmore and the Land of the Rising Sun: Revisiting Orientalism Through the Experience of a Late 19th Century Legal Westerniser


16.00-16.50 BST: Neil Harrison (Northumbria University)

Sir Joseph Cowen as Commissioner and Chairman of the Tyne Improvement Commission from 1850 to 1873: the Influence of his Networks on his Interpretation of the Law and his Actions


17.00-17.50 BST: Helen Rutherford (Northumbria University)

The People’s Judge: Examining the Life and Work of the Coroner for Newcastle upon Tyne 1857-1885



10th September 15.00-18.00 BST: Uses, Abuses and Methods in Legal Biographical Writing


15.05-15.55 BST: Sean Morris (University of Helsinki)

Walter George Frank Phillimore (1845 – 1929): The Early Years and Devotion to Church-Law Relations


16.00-16.50 BST: Charlotte Smith (University of Reading)

Legal Biography and Religion: Some Reflections


17.00-17.50 BST: John Tribe (University of Liverpool)

Pride & Posterity: A Reappraisal of the Earl of Birkenhead’s role in the passage of the Law of Property Act 1925


For further information, contact Victoria Barnes (barnes@lhlt.mpg.de)


You can register for this event via Eventbrite on https://www.eventbrite.com/e/legal-biography-workshop-tickets-162918711251.

Real History and Fake History

The British press has recently reported two events of interest. One is the result of a fascinating archaeological dig, the other the product of a fantasy and indeed fake history.

Your blogger shall look at the fake history first. On Tuesday 17 August, about twenty individuals entered Edinburgh Castle, a major tourist attraction, without paying, and refused to leave. They claimed to be retaking it for the people under article 61 of Magna Carta. Magna Carta has, of course, and never has had, any authority in Scotland. At the time it was signed, Scotland and England were separate kingdoms, and as component parts of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, they retain separate laws and legal systems. Indeed, in any case, article 61 was also quickly removed from Magna Carta, and it most certainly did not entitle “the people” to take back power from the Crown. One could go on; but your blogger gathers from the press that anti-Lockdown protesters have regularly cited article 61 as entitling them to ignore restrictions: see https://fullfact.org/online/did-she-die-in-vain/

A variety of other claims about the government and the rule of law were made by the protestors; with these I shall not trouble readers of this Blog. Examination of the websites of a number of newspapers, such as The Times, The Guardian, and The Independent, should give curious readers the gist. Had a policeman not suffered a (fortunately) minor injury, it might have just been an amusing curiosity.

That the Magna Carta never applied in Scotland immediately leads to dismissal of these claims; but interpretation of historical documents by those who do not really understand them can lead to troubling results. Your blogger can here think of some of the discussions of the historical document now known as the Declaration of Arbroath, in reality a letter from the Scottish barons to the then Pope.

Turning to actual history, the British press has recently publicised the discovery of well-preserved human remains in a necropolis by Pompeii. The individual, a man of around 60, almost certainly Marcus Venerio Secundio, a freed slave, who rose to become guardian of the Temple of Venus and member of a college of priests. The remains are unusual as Romans were commonly created in this era, and the tomb also contains, in a glass urn, the ashes of Novia Amabilis, who may well have been his wife. What is also interesting is that an inscription records that Venerio Secundo organised spectacles in Greek and Latin for four days. Of course, educated Romans were bilingual in Greek and Latin, but this gives an indication of the persistence of a more popular knowledge of the language.

The domination of a stereotype of slavery based on chattel slavery in the Americas always makes of great interest such indications of freedom and success in the Roman world.

Third Postgraduate Conference in Comparative Legal History, 17–19 February 2022, Augsburg University (Germany)

The European Society for Comparative Legal History (ESCLH) is pleased to announce its Third Postgraduate Conference. The ESCLH invites PhD-students (beyond their first year) and post-doctoral researchers who work in the field of comparative legal history to participate in the conference. The conference will be held from 17 to 19 February 2022 at Augsburg University, Germany.

The ESCHL wants to overcome the narrow nationalism and geographical segregation of legal history in contemporary European scholarship and professional organisations. The society, thus, aims to promote comparative legal history, the explicit comparison of legal ideas and institutions in two or more legal traditions.

The Third Postgraduate Conference of the ESCLH will give advanced PhD-students and post-doctoral researchers the opportunity to present their research in the field of comparative legal history to a panel of six leading experts. Furthermore, the conference will give all participants the opportunity to build academic networks. The experts on the panel cover a broad range of subjects: Annamaria Monti (Milano), Helen Scott (Oxford), Michał Gałędek (Gdańsk),Jean-Louis Halperin (Paris), Aniceto Masferrer (Valencia), and Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde (Oslo).

The ESCLH invites advanced doctoral candidates and post-doctoral researchers to submit abstracts of their planned presentation. The abstract should be of no more than 300 words. It should give the title of the research project, the field of research, and personal data (full name, email address, affiliated university). Please also send a CV (no more than 4 pages). The application should be sent to:


The conference language is English and abstracts must be submitted in English. The closing date for receipt of abstracts is 15 September 2021. Twelve applicants will be selected and invited to participate in the conference. Successful applicants will be informed by 15 October 2021.

Participants are expected to cover their own travel expenses. Accommodation and catering will be provided without charge.

It is hoped that by February 2022 it will again be possible to host a conference in person and that all participants will be able to travel to Augsburg. The organizers of the conference, however, reserve the right to change to an online or hybrid format if any travel restrictions or other restrictions are in force. In order to allow all participants to make their travel arrangements, the final decision on whether the conference will be held in presence, online or hybrid will be made by 15 December 2021.

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