Report #1: The Law is all pervasive

Posted: October 29, 2012 in Charon Tour, Reports

The UK Tour begins now…. with some background which I hope will be of interest to non-lawyers.  Professor Gary Slapper has kindly provided the first report and Chapter 1 of his book:  How Law Works (linked below)

Law is all pervasive. It exists in every cell of life. It affects everyone virtually all of the time. It governs everything in life and even what happens to us after life. It applies to everything from the embryo to exhumation. It governs the air we breathe, the food and drink that we consume, our travel, sexuality, family relationships, and our property. It applies at the bottom of the ocean and in space. It regulates the world of sport, science, employment, business, political liberty, education, health services, everything, in fact, from neighbour disputes to war….
In a democracy, with so much complicated law, lawyers do a great deal not just to vindicate the rights of citizens and organizations but also, through legal arguments some of which are adapted into law by judges, to help develop the law.  Law courts, as we shall see, can and do grow new law and prune old law, but they do so having heard the arguments of lawyers.  Consider this observation from the famous twentieth century judge, Lord Denning, made in a case from 1954:

What is the argument on the other side? Only this, that no case has been found in which it has been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on: and that will be bad for both.

Denning LJ, Packer v Packer [1954] P 15 at 22

However, despite their important role in developing the rules in a democracy, lawyers are not universally popular. Anti-lawyer jokes have a long history. The ancient Athenian philosopher Diogenes once went to look for an honest lawyer. “How’s it going?” someone asked him after a while. “Not too bad,” answered Diogenes. “I still have my lantern.”

Useful resource link:

Professor Gary Slapper:  How The Law Works, Chapter 1 – The Importance of Law
Professor Slapper’s How The Law Works book is available on Amazon if you wish to delve deeper

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