Details of past lectures are stored in our Hamlyn lectures archive.

John Laws

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Laws was the Hamlyn lecturer for 2013

Lecture 3 – The Common Law and Europe

27 November

Date - 27th November 2013

Venue - Inner Temple Hall, London

Time - 6.00pm

Lecture III concerns the fashioning of a stable and satisfactory response to the force of the laws coming out of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights. The laws of the European Union raise familiar questions, by now familiar questions, about the nature of State sovereignty and therefore the shape of our constitution. Sir John Laws will say that there has in law been no transfer of State sovereignty to Europe; and this is an important constitutional truth. It means we may absorb rich legal insights from continental Europe free of political neuroses; and the common law is the means of doing it.

Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, and the responses to them of our State institutions, also raise questions about the source of the laws that govern us; and therefore, again, the shape of our constitution. Sir John will say that fundamental rights have to be seen as the gift of our own constitution, and this requires the making of a domestic human rights jurisprudence which will have important effects on the relationship between our State institutions and the Strasbourg court. 

In all these areas, again, the wisdom of our politics is put to the test; but again the common law, being the crucible of the moderate and orderly development of State power, has a critical place.