Legal Theory and Legal History: A Neglected Dialogue?

Legal Theory and Legal History: A Neglected Dialogue?

12 April 2013 – 13 April 2013
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Venue: Law building, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End
The 2013 UK IVR Annual Conference
Outline of Theme

Apart from some notable exceptions, much of contemporary legal theory is uninformed by history, including legal history. This is deeply regrettable, for legal theories may be vastly improved by being informed, and perhaps more importantly, challenged by historical contexts. Theories of law, one might say, are better if they are forged at the coal-face of historical research. Similarly, one could argue that legal histories are better when they draw on, and themselves contribute to, the conceptual resources of legal theory.

Somewhat more radically, if one agrees law does not have a nature, but a culture, then one must account for how the culture of law changes, and has changed, over time. This, by necessity, demands a historically-informed methodology. Similarly, the problem of change is an unavoidable one in legal theory, whether that be change in legal regimes or changes in certain areas of the law – here, again, the resources of history, including the philosophy of history, are invaluable. Putting things a little more colourfully, one could say that legal ideas cannot but be understood historically.

Further, legal theory has, of course, its own history: legal theories are not disconnected islands, but rather interventions in a long series of dialogues and polylogues amongst theorists. As many have observed, and described, legal theory’s history needs to be informed not only by such dialogues and polylogues amongst theorists, but also by awareness of the theorist’s immersion in political, economic and other conditions of his or her time and place – there, once more, a serious engagement with history is important.

This conference – the annual conference of the UK Branch of the IVR – is designed to bring together legal theorists and legal historians (including historians of legal theory and political thought) in an attempt to facilitate and encourage dialogue between the two disciplines.

Call for Papers
A call for papers is issued for the open paper sessions. A group of selectors from the Legal Theory and Legal History Group at Queen Mary will select papers based on abstracts. Abstracts are to be no longer than one A4 page, and should include the name and affiliation of the author(s).

Strong preference will be given to papers related to the theme, broadly construed. However, papers may be submitted on any aspect of legal and social philosophy.

Abstracts should be emailed to by 1 October 2012.

Draft Programme
Friday 12 April 2013
Keynote: Professor John Bell, Title TBC
11.15 – 12.45
Open Paper Session I
12.45 – 1.45
Keynote: Professor Joshua Getzler, Title TBC
3.15 – 4.45
Open Paper Session II
Keynote: Professor Quentin Skinner, The Concept of the State in Legal History and Theory
Annual General Meeting
Official dinner
Saturday 13 April 2013
Dr Eric Descheemaeker, Legal Rationality as Legal History, with commentary by Professor William Lucy
Dr Ian Williams, The role of rules: legal maxims in early-modern common law principle and practice, with commentary by Dr Thomas Poole
11.45 – 12.45
PhD Paper Presentation Session
1.45 – 2.45
Closing Panel with Professor David Ibbetson and Professor Philip Schofield
Fee and Organisation
The attendance fee is £20 for academics and £10 for students, which will also constitute membership to the UK IVR for 2013.

The conference is organised by the Legal Theory and Legal History Research Group at Queen Mary, University of London. The Group is convened by Professor Michael Lobban and Dr Maksymilian Del Mar.

Dr Del Mar is the Convenor of the UK IVR, and can be contacted directly by email:

Irish Legal Diaspora Conference, 7-8 July 2013

The Irish Legal History Society is apporaching its 25th Anniversary. As part of its celebrations, it is promoting a conference on the Irish Legal Diaspora.

The Irish Legal History Society accordingly would like to invite Irish and international scholars to Dublin in order to celebrate the global significance of the Irish legal diaspora. For centuries the reality of Irish immigration has included qualified lawyers and persons who would qualify abroad. They served at all levels of the first and second British Empires, in the United States, in the former dominions and colonies that became the British Commonwealth and the independent states that grew from it. The objective of this conference is to gain anwidth=150 understanding of these people, their political outlook and the contribution made to their new countries.

Irish lawyers have imbued the laws and politics of many lands with ther own ideas and experience. Significant contributions were made in other ways, too. Thus, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, law graduate, politician and journalist, is seen as one of the fathers of Canadian confederation. See A young Dublin lawyer, John Robert Godley, was the driving force behind the settlement and organisation of a new city in New Zealand that he named Christchurch. See



The dates of this conference, 7-8 July 2013, dovetail with the British Legal History Conference that will be held at the University of Glasgow on 10-13 July 2013. Some participants may wish to attend both events.
Proposals of less than 500 words for papers relating to the Irish legal diaspora in any part of the world should reach the organisers by 30 September 2012. Contributors who are unsure whether their proposals suitably reflect the conference theme should contact the organisers at the email address below.
A draft programme and details of registration and accommodation will be circulated early in 2013. Selected papers may be chosen for inclusion in a future publication of the Irish Legal History Society.
Conference email:

Conference Sub-Committee: Mr Robert Marshall, Dr Niamh Howlin, Ms Yvonne Mullen, Dr Thomas Moh

Ancient Law in Context – first meeting 1 – 2 June 2012


On 1 – 2 June 2012, the Centre for Legal History co-hosted the first meeting of the interdisciplinary research network undertaken in conjunction with the School of History, Classics and Archaeology on the theme of "Slavery and the law". During the course of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, a group of invited scholars from different disciplines came together to discuss various aspects surrounding the interaction between slavery and the law. Papers covered a range of periods from Ancient Greece to Eighteenth-century Scotland. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and intellectually productive occasion. The next meeting, on the theme of "Economics and law" will take place towards the end of this calendar year.



16th Annual Meeting at Copanello

Source: Calendario romanistico

XVI Convegno sul tema “Gaius noster. Nei segni del Veronese” (Copanello, 8 – 11 June 2012):

interventi di Dario Mantovani (Gaio e la scienza romanistica dell’ultimo secolo),

Filippo Briguglio (La rinascita digitale del Manoscritto Veronese),

Giuseppe Camodeca (Alcune omissioni nelle Istituzioni di Gaio alla luce dei documenti della prassi),

Maria Floriana Cursi (Pati iniuriam per alios),

Alejandro Guzman Brito (Gaio e la distinzione delle cose corporali e incorporali: Gai. 2.12),

Ulrich Manthe (Gaio, il Veronese e gli editori),

Pascal Pichonnaz (Compensatio e deductio: Gai. 4.66),

Gianni Santucci (La magna quaestio di Gai. 3.149),

Jakob Fortunat Stagl (L’actio rei uxoriae secondo Gaio)

e Tavola Rotonda presieduta da Francesco Casavola
con massimo Brutti, Carlo Augusto Cannata, Jean-François Gerkens e Gabor Hamza.

Workshop on the Scottish Sedition Trials: Stirling, Thursday, 14 June 2012

Our colleagues at Stirling are working towards an online edition of the Scottish sedition and treason trials of the 1790s – inspired by John Barrell and Jon Mee's Pickering and Chatto set of English trials, 1792-4. These trials are of great interest, and often mentioned, particularly by historians of the left, but are deserving of much further study. This project therefore looks set to be of great importance. The preliminary day is planned as follows:

9.30-10am   Coffee

10.00-11.15am Creating an online edition – Dr Alastair Mann and Dr Sarah Bromage.

11.15-11.45am Coffee

11.45am-1.00pm   Political issues – Dr Gordon Pentland

1.00-2.00pm   Lunch

2.00-3.15pm  Legal issues – Professor Lindsay Farmer

3.15-4.00pm Tea

4.00-5.00pm   The Scottish Trials for Sedition and Treason, 1793-8 – Professor Hector McQueen

5.00p.m. Reception 

For further information, please contact Gavin Little at

This promises to be a good day. Your blogger is particularly excited having many years ago reviewed Alan Wharum's The Treason Trials, 1794 for the SLT. They involve interesting characters such as Thomas Mure, a Bollinger Bolshevik if ever there was one, and the learned Lord Braxfield. Much modern understanding, however, is filtered through the prejudices concealed in the seductive writings of Lord Cockburn. More proper study is needed.



Gustavus Schmidt: Talk by Kjell Å Modéer, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, 12 April, 2012

Gustavus Schmidt (1795-1877) was an important lawyer in New Orleans who had emigrated from Sweden, where his brother, Carl Christian, rose to become a judge. The two brothers corresponded until the death of Carl Christian in 1872. Schmidt published the Lousiana Law Review in 1841 and lectured in law in the mid 1840s. In 1851, he published the Civil Law of Spain and Mexico organised in the structure of a modern code, a work recently reprinted by William S. Hein. Schmidt was a noted book collector, and the sale catalogue of his significant library was recently printed in the Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series, as number 6, with valuable introductory and other material by Michael Hoeflich, Kjell Å Modéer, and Louis V. de la Vergne. Schmidt was buried in the St Louis Cemetary no. 2 in New Olreans, where his tomb has been recently restored.

Professor Modéer is due to give talk about the Schmidt brothers on 1 April at lunchtime in the Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans. See the poster below.width=1500

Call for Papers: Law and Disputing in the Middle Ages

Law and Disputing in the Middle Ages

Carlsberg Academy Conference on Medieval Legal History IX
Copenhagen 9-11 May 2012

The conference is the ninth in an interdisciplinary series which aims at discussing new approaches to the study of medieval law and legal practice. The first conference, held in 2003, examined the question of how ‘Nordic' the medieval Scandinavian law codes actually were.

The upcoming ninth conference in this series continues along these interdisciplinary lines to embrace various aspects of the broad theme of the interrelation between law and the handling of conflicts inside and outside courts in medieval societies. The purpose of the conference is to enlighten and discuss how, in different periods and places in medieval Europe, legal conflicts were solved.

At the conference various thematic stands as for instance the relationship between litigation and court practice, disputed authorities, disputes solving in the learned law and the relationship between written law and custom.

To see the programme and register, visit Law and Disputing in the Middle Ages:

‘Receiving Laws/Giving Laws’: 31st Annual Conference of the Australia New Zealand Law and History Society, December 2012

Call for Papers

The 31st Annual Conference of the Australia New Zealand Law and History Society, December 2012

'Receiving Laws/Giving Laws'

The 31st Annual Conference of the Australia New Zealand Law and History Society will be held at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), 10-12 December 2012. UTS is the most centrally located law school in Sydney, situated next to Central Station, on the edge of China Town, three minutes by monorail from Sydney’s central shopping district and a short trip to the harbour by direct train or bus.


The conference theme is “Receiving Laws/Giving Laws”. It is orientated towards the movement, transmission and transformation of laws and their histories – across Empire, through time, in and between genres and disciplines. The receiving and giving of laws could be addressed in a broad range of ways. How do laws and histories translocate? By what means (doctrinal, processual, cultural) are laws transmitted and received in new places? What transformations happen as a result of this movement? Whose histories, cultures and laws appear and disappear through these transformations? What kinds of interventions can bring about ways of transforming, perceiving and transmitting the law and its histories/cultures?

The keynote speaker is Professor Philip Girard, University Research Professor and Professor of Law, History & Canadian Studies, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University. There will also be a plenary panel in which three scholars will address the theme of the conference, each through a different genre of legal history: Professor Anne Orford, Melbourne Law School; Dr Katherine Biber, School of Law, UTS; Dr Damen Ward, Crown Law Office, Wellington.

The organising committee would welcome interest from legal historians from any jurisdiction. The call for papers will be open until late June. Inquiries or paper proposals – including a title, brief abstract and brief biography – should be sent to Shaunngh Dorsett, and further information is available at

In Memory of Alan Rodger: Conference on Roman Law and Legal History

Friends and  colleagues of Alan Rodger will meet in his memory at the University of Glasgow, on 7-8 September 2012, for a conference on legal history and Roman law.

Alan Rodger, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, wrote on legal history and Roman law for more than forty years. He was a student of David Daube at the University of Oxford, and remained an active and engaged scholar even as he pursued a career as an advocate and in government, eventually serving as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

There will be presentations on the Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, as well as a reception and dinner on the Friday evening.  The conference is being organised by Ernest Metzger, Douglas Professor of Civil Law in the University of Glasgow, and David Johnston QC, Axiom Advocates, Edinburgh.

The organisers will keep you informed of arrangements: please send a note to if you are considering attending. In due course those who wish to attend the conference, with or without the reception and dinner, will be able to register from the conference site (see below).

The speakers will include:

Tiziana J. Chiusi (Professor of Civil Law, Roman Law and Comparative Law, University of Saarland); Michael Crawford FBA (Emeritus Professor, History, University College London); Robin Evans-Jones (Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Aberdeen); Joshua S. Getzler (Professor of Law and Legal History, University of Oxford); Kenneth Reid CBE, FBA, FRSE (Professor of Scots Law, University of Edinburgh); John Richardson FRSE (Emeritus Professor of Classics, University of Edinburgh); Boudewijn Sirks (Regius Professor of Civil Law, University of Oxford).


A list of tributes to Alan Rodger, with a bibliography of his works, may be found at:

Sir John Baker: Neill Lecture Oxford

For many years now Sir John Baker has been the doyen of English legal history. If one takes into account his slightly older colleagues, Brian Simpson, Toby Milsom, and, in ecclesiastical law, Dick Helmholz, and his younger colleagues such as John Hudson, Michael Lobban and Robert Palmer (without slighting others) the past few decades have been a rich and fertile period in English legal history. It is no wonder that it has proved a ripe time to produce the multi-volume Oxford History of the Laws of England, harvesting the wealth of recent scholarship and experience.
Sir John has now retired from the Downing Chair at Cambridge. But his energy is not being dissipated. It is worth noting that on 24 February 2012 he will give the Neill Lecture at All Souls College, Oxford, on the intriguing topic of "The Legal History Nobody Knows". It promises to be a great event. It is an interesting title for a man who turned the “dark age” of English legal history into glorious light.


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