Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

Judgment in Law and the Humanities

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

The interdisciplinary temperament of ‘law and the humanities’ is both perplexing for law, and intriguing for the humanities. This perplexity and this intrigue come to a head precisely over one of the most important institutional necessities and problems of law: judgment. If a text is not a truth but a debate; if it embodies not one story or meaning but many; if a statute, let us say, or a court case cannot be neatly separated from literature, or rhetoric, or politics – then there is literature, and rhetoric, and politics, in every interpretation and in every decision. One of the central questions that the influence of the humanities on law raises is this: how, and with what legitimacy, can judgment take place if the texts on which judges base their decision do not – even in principle, let alone in practice – yield ‘one right answer.’ Over the past few years, as the question of judgment has ever more urgently weighed upon scholars within the broad church of the humanities, at least two kinds of answer have emerged: one broadly speaking influenced by Derrida’s later work and the other, equally schematically, taking Heidegger as its point of departure. Now these two streams draw very closely on a common intellectual tradition and share many points of similarity. Nevertheless I wish to insist in this essay that the two strands part company on the crucial question of judgment in law. In this chapter I focus on these two divergent paths now open to law and the humanities. The key difference between them (although not everyone will agree) lies in the transcendentalism – I would say the Romanticism – of the latter, and the relativism pragmatism – I would say the humanism – of the former. This chapter argues that we have both social and intellectual reasons to prefer the humanist perspective over its romantic alternative. Drawing on the language of deconstruction, and the experience of literature that lies at its heart, I want to defend an understanding of the purpose and nature of legal judgment which places as its central concern the provisional and multi-vocal experience of human discourse. From this we might develop a theory of judgment that is neither positivist nor Romantic.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Judgment in Law and the Humanities

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

The interdisciplinary temperament of ‘law and the humanities’ is both perplexing for law, and intriguing for the humanities. This perplexity and this intrigue come to a head precisely over one of the most important institutional necessities and problems of law: judgment. If a text is not a truth but a debate; if it embodies not one story or meaning but many; if a statute, let us say, or a court case cannot be neatly separated from literature, or rhetoric, or politics – then there is literature, and rhetoric, and politics, in every interpretation and in every decision. One of the central questions that the influence of the humanities on law raises is this: how, and with what legitimacy, can judgment take place if the texts on which judges base their decision do not – even in principle, let alone in practice – yield ‘one right answer.’ Over the past few years, as the question of judgment has ever more urgently weighed upon scholars within the broad church of the humanities, at least two kinds of answer have emerged: one broadly speaking influenced by Derrida’s later work and the other, equally schematically, taking Heidegger as its point of departure. Now these two streams draw very closely on a common intellectual tradition and share many points of similarity. Nevertheless I wish to insist in this essay that the two strands part company on the crucial question of judgment in law. In this chapter I focus on these two divergent paths now open to law and the humanities. The key difference between them (although not everyone will agree) lies in the transcendentalism – I would say the Romanticism – of the latter, and the relativism pragmatism – I would say the humanism – of the former. This chapter argues that we have both social and intellectual reasons to prefer the humanist perspective over its romantic alternative. Drawing on the language of deconstruction, and the experience of literature that lies at its heart, I want to defend an understanding of the purpose and nature of legal judgment which places as its central concern the provisional and multi-vocal experience of human discourse. From this we might develop a theory of judgment that is neither positivist nor Romantic.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Book cover

The Hart-Fuller Debate in the 21st Century

Editor(s): Peter Cane

This book presents the papers and comments on those papers delivered at a colloquium held at the Australian National University in December 2008 to celebrate 50 years since the publication in the Harvard Law Review of the famous and wide-ranging debate between HLA Hart and Lon L Fuller. These essays do not to re-run that debate and they are not confined to discussion of the jurisprudential issues canvassed by Hart and Fuller. Rather they pick up on strands in the debate and re-think them in the light of social, political and intellectual developments in the past 50 years and changed ways of understanding law and other normative systems. This collection looks forward rather than backward using the debate as a point of departure and inspiration.   

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Centre:

Research theme: Legal Theory

Book cover

The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research

Editor(s): Peter Cane, Herbert Kritzer

The early years of the first decade of the twenty-first century saw the emergence and rapid development of a movement that labelled itself “Empirical Legal Studies” (ELS). This book acknowledges the diversity of empirical investigation of law, legal systems, and other legal phenomena. In particular, there are at least three approaches and research groupings that predate the contemporary ELS movement, which may be respectively identified as socio-legal/law and society (an interdisciplinary movement with strong roots in sociology but including scholars from a wide range of traditional disciplines including law), empirically oriented law-and-economics, and judicial behaviour/politics. This book also explores three key dimensions of policing: order management, crime management, and security management. Finally, it concludes by identifying some emerging trends in the organization and conduct of police work as policing organizations seek to reconfigure their capacities and capabilities to meet new challenges. The phrase “empirical legal research” in the title, The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research, is designed both to reflect and to celebrate the healthy pluralism of empirical approaches to the study of law and legal phenomena.

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Centre: PEARL

Research theme: Legal Theory

Book cover

Cultural Difference on Trial: The Nature and Limits of Judicial Understanding

Author(s): Anthony Connolly

Cultural Difference on Trial: The Nature and Limits of Judicial Understanding comprises a sustained philosophical exploration of the capacity of the modern liberal democratic legal system to understand the thought and practice of those culturally different minorities who come before it as claimants, defendants or witnesses. Exploring this issue from within the tradition of contemporary analytical and naturalistic philosophy and drawing upon recent developments in the philosophy of mind and language, this volume is informed by a sound academic and practical grasp of the workings of the legal system itself. Systematically analysing the nature and limits of a judge's ability to understand culturally different thought and action over the course of a trial, this volume is essential reading for anyone interested in the workings of the modern legal system.

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Centre:

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Legal Theory

Book Review: Watching Brief: Reflections on Human Rights, Law and Justice (Julian Burnside)

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

Julian Burnside’s collection of essays provides an insight into the mind of one of the Howard era’s most vocal public critics. Located within traditional liberal values and orthodox human rights principles, Burnside’s stories of human suffering and his Kantian appeals to human dignity are aimed at awakening our ‘imagination to understand the realities’ behind the political and legal spin of the times. Although sometimes loose with his legal language, his vision of a ‘just society’, his concerns for democracy, and his fury at the disempowerment and silencing of ‘voiceless minorities’ (notably asylum-seekers, indigenous peoples, and ‘terror’ suspects) remain persuasive and relevant to the new administrations in both Australia and the US.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Judicial Rhetoric and Constitutional Identity: Comparative Approaches to Aliens' Rights in the United Kingdom and Australia

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

A comparison between the judicial reasoning adopted by the House of Lords in Belmarsh and Torture Evidence cases, and the High Court of Australia's administrative detention cases (especially Al-Kateb) reveals stark differences in the approach to common law rights, judicial reasoning, and constitutional rhetoric. Using the language of historically-based identity-informing constitutional values, their Lordships' speeches can be seen as exercises in public and political persuasion, made within the idiom of constitutional veneration which is enjoying a renaissance in the UK. This emerging judicial rhetoric combines an appeal to a mythologised constitutional past with an emphasis on the quintessentially 'British' nature of the rights at stake to consolidate both the constitutional status of the 'principle of legality' and an inclusive notion of 'equality'. By contrast, the High Court's majority decisions are virtually devoid of the language of values, and are silent on the nature or status of the rights which Parliament was impliedly abrogating. The decisions are instead shrouded in the equally powerful rhetoric of strict legalism. Behind this purportedly valueless methodology, however, their Honours' decisions reveal attitudes towards aliens as 'illegal,' 'unlawful' and 'unwanted' rather than rights-bearers, and a judicial deference to Parliament to 'protect' an undefined Australian community. The arrival of French CJ to the helm of the High Court might see a reinvigoration of common law rights via the principle of legality.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

England and the Rediscovery of Constitutional Faith

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

England is currently experiencing a widely recognised constitutional renaissance, with traditional English ‘liberties’ at its core: historic rights and liberty-affirming documents of the past are cited by counsel and judge alike, the Prime Minister waxes lyrical about constitutional values which define the British nation, scholars call for the revival of a purported rights-centric common law constitution, and a new breed of media-star historians are rediscovering English liberties in political institutions and re-imagined constitutional moments. Even the mythology of Magna Carta is resurfacing in the popular imagination, the date of its signing selected by public poll as ‘the best date to celebrate Britishness’.

The rhetoric contrasts with the dominant popular trope for much of the twentieth century, which portrayed the English constitution as essentially clever politics. Today’s constitutional veneration, however, has a long and complex history. This paper charts the variety of constitutional veneration that arose in the post-reformation period, as well as its decline, and contemporary revival. Starting with an overview of the seventeenth century, it charts the emergence of a constitutional language arising out of the rich theological and philosophical tradition of the age, and the persuasive use by the principal judicial figures of the day of new forms of historiography, traditional natural law philosophy, and emerging ethnic nationalism. Underpinned by contended notions of liberty and religiosity, this potent mix ensured that the newly minted English constitution enjoyed a quasi-religious status, embracing divinely ordained values and institutional arrangements that at once defined what it was to be both English and Protestant, and therefore was worthy of veneration. The decline of this constitutional model in the 19th and 20th century is then considered against the backdrop of empiricism, utilitarianism, nationalism and the victory of a political understanding of the constitutional model. The purported disappearance of the ‘legal’ constitution in this period, however, was never to be consolidated, nor were the contradictions inherent in the new ‘sovereignist’ model reconcilable with the explosion of rights jurisprudence in the latter part of the twentieth century. The article therefore concludes with a brief overview of the re-emergence of the language of constitutional faith in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, and the renewed reliance on this rhetoric of constitutional veneration by the judicial branch of government in an attempt to influence the development of a normative English constitutional and national identity.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Proximity – The Law of Ethics and the Ethics of Law

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Emmanuel Levinas is one of the great writers on ethics of the 20th Century, but he is little known in law. His two main works, Totality and Infinity and Otherwise Than Being, or Beyond Essence, offer a reconstruction of human selfhood away from questions of identity and ego and towards an ‘ethics of the other’. His writing is passionate, mystical, and rational, at times erudite and elsewhere downright obtuse. But as reward for this struggle, Levinas offers a sustained meditation on the relationship of ethics, responsibility and law, and - remarkably - he does so using the language of the duty of care. Here then is a philosopher, largely unknown to legal theory, who at last speaks the language of torts. Central to Levinas’ meditations is an idea of ethics to which I will have recourse. For Levinas, and those who have been influenced by him, the word ethics implies a personal responsibility to another that is both involuntary and singular. The demand of ethics comes from the intimacy of an experienced encounter, and its contours cannot therefore be codified or predicted in advance. At least as opposed to the Kantian paradigm of morality as ‘a system of rules,’ ethics therefore speaks about inter-personal relationships and not about abstract principles. At least as opposed to most understandings of law, ethics insists on the necessity of our response to others, and the unique predicament of each such response, rather than attempting to reduce such responses to standard instances and norms of general application applicable to whole communities and capable of being settled in advance. Indeed, ethics constantly destabilizes and ruptures those rules and that settlement. Furthermore, ethics implies an unavoidable responsibility to another which Levinas exhorts as ‘first philosophy’: by this he means to indicate that without some such initial hospitality or openness to the vulnerability of another human being, neither language nor society nor law could ever have got going. At least as opposed to many understandings of justice, there is nothing logical or a priori inevitable about such an openness; except that without it, we would not be here to talk to one another. We cannot derive this ethics from rational first principles. Ethics is that first principle.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Shakespeare and Judgment: The Renewal of Law and Literature

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Legal theorist Desmond Manderson and Shakespearean Paul Yachnin develop parallel arguments that seek to restore a public dimension of responsibility to literary studies and a private dimension of responsibility to law. Their arguments issue from their work as the creators of the Shakespeare Moot Court at McGill University, a course in which graduate English students team up with senior Law students to argue cases in “Court of Shakespeare,” where the sole Institutes, Codex, and Digest are comprised by the plays of Shakespeare. Yachnin argues that modern literary studies suffers from impermanence and isolation from real-world concerns and that it can redress these limitations — developing attributes of corrigibility, temporality, judgment, and publicity — by learning from law. Manderson finds modern legal judgment bereft of affective engagement with the subjects of law and wedded to an ideal of objectivity, regulation, and impersonality. Literature can restore to legal judgment the elements of narrative, character, context, and self-reflection. Together, the essays argue that the question of judgment, so integral to the disciplines of law and of literature, needs the renewal that an inter-disciplinary engagement provides.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Trust US Justice: '24', Popular Culture and the Law

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

The television series ‘24’ has been a television phenomenon which over seven series has spawned a mass following and innumerable spin-offs including webisodes, prequels, games, and action figures. More significantly it has been enormously influential in the construction of the relationship between rule of law and security issues, particularly in relation to terrorism. Jack Bauer’s actions, and specifically his use of torture in the common good, have been important influences in the development of the US debate. Nonetheless, to situate ‘24’ as a purely contemporary phenomenon – a child of 9/11 – is to miss the larger point.

On the one hand ‘24’ frames law against questions of singularity which appeal to a longstanding tradition of vigilante justice evident in familiar archetypes of cowboys and superheroes. At the same time such a tradition reaches back to much older Christological models of justice and subjectivity which modernism has deflected but never defeated. In ‘24’ and elsewhere, popular culture does not merely keep these memories of law alive: it actively realizes and advances them, and needs to be understood not only as a depiction of law but as a law-making force in its own right. A pluralist theory of law ties contemporary technological manifestations of popular culture back to law’s enduring social and discursive roots as we see, for example, in EP Thompson’s Cultures in Common. One might even characterize popular culture as a defence of some sort of ‘moral legality’ against the ‘market legality’ of modernity.

On the other hand, ‘24’ frames law against questions of urgency and emotion. While popular culture has for centuries reflected an older form of law and justice, its capacity to undermine the very pluralist and discursive openness which are its well-spring, demonstrates the dangers to which the rhetoric of urgency and the emotional power of medium and message are prone. In a world shorn of its faith in the traditional structures which sustained the moral economy and the moral legality, the appeal to simply trust in an inarticulable justice sustained by an emotional pitch which is in ‘24’ at every moment apparent, opens the prospect of legal terrorism.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Two Turns of the Screw: The Hart-Fuller Debate

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Henry James’ short novel The Turn of the Screw appeared in 1898. It is a ghost story, uncanny both in content and in form. It relates such uneventful events that the reader is left turning from interpretation to interpretation, trying to determine just what is going on. Yet like the ghosts themselves, wherever we look, there is nothing to see. Until the very last sentence of the book, which hits one like a fist, nothing happens, nothing is proved, and yet a palpable feeling of tension and anxiety builds. It is therefore not fanciful to suggest that the real power of the story lies not in its narrative but in its rhetoric. The book creates a mood of anxiety that infects the reader’s reading. This is what one might call the ‘performative’ dimension of the story. James’ tale constitutes a reader, alert but confused, who thereby experiences the feeling of being part of a ghost story rather than merely reading about one.

Sixty years later, HLA Hart and Lon Fuller likewise do not merely describe two different approaches to legal interpretation: in their style, rhetoric and structure they perform these approaches. This essay similarly wishes to connect its argument with its form and for this reason I have chosen to devote considerable space to discussing a work of literature. The Turn of the Screw illuminates certain essential features of the Hart/Fuller debate. Both are tales about law, interpretation, and ghosts. Through James, this essay argues that the debate between Hart and Fuller epitomizes legal interpretation as haunted. Rhetorically, they present two largely incommensurable visions of law. Yet their efforts to exclude the other’s approach fails. But instead of choosing between Hart and Fuller we can gain a richer understanding of legal interpretation if we treat their performance as mutual and interactive. I do not mean that Hart and Fuller can in any way be reconciled through compromise or synthesis. I mean rather that each remains ‘haunted’, and therefore productively unsettled, by the perspective of the other. To be haunted is never to be comfortable with one’s judgment or knowledge, never at peace. This may be ‘a horror’ in a story, but necessary in a legal system.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Genesis

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

This chapter forms the introductory essay to a collection of new essays on the relationship between the ethical philosphy of Levinas and the law, with a particular focus on delimiting the range and implications of Levinas' ambitious ethical agenda. Issues of responsibility and hospitality, self and other, ethics and politics, law and justice, are outlined with reference to the implications for law and to their further elaboration in the rest of the essays contained in this collection.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

England and the Rediscovery of Constitutional Faith

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

England is currently experiencing a widely recognised constitutional renaissance, with traditional English ‘liberties’ at its core: historic rights and liberty-affirming documents of the past are cited by counsel and judge alike, the Prime Minister waxes lyrical about constitutional values which define the British nation, scholars call for the revival of a purported rights-centric common law constitution, and a new breed of media-star historians are rediscovering English liberties in political institutions and re-imagined constitutional moments. Even the mythology of Magna Carta is resurfacing in the popular imagination, the date of its signing selected by public poll as ‘the best date to celebrate Britishness’.

The rhetoric contrasts with the dominant popular trope for much of the twentieth century, which portrayed the English constitution as essentially clever politics. Today’s constitutional veneration, however, has a long and complex history. This paper charts the variety of constitutional veneration that arose in the post-reformation period, as well as its decline, and contemporary revival. Starting with an overview of the seventeenth century, it charts the emergence of a constitutional language arising out of the rich theological and philosophical tradition of the age, and the persuasive use by the principal judicial figures of the day of new forms of historiography, traditional natural law philosophy, and emerging ethnic nationalism. Underpinned by contended notions of liberty and religiosity, this potent mix ensured that the newly minted English constitution enjoyed a quasi-religious status, embracing divinely ordained values and institutional arrangements that at once defined what it was to be both English and Protestant, and therefore was worthy of veneration. The decline of this constitutional model in the 19th and 20th century is then considered against the backdrop of empiricism, utilitarianism, nationalism and the victory of a political understanding of the constitutional model. The purported disappearance of the ‘legal’ constitution in this period, however, was never to be consolidated, nor were the contradictions inherent in the new ‘sovereignist’ model reconcilable with the explosion of rights jurisprudence in the latter part of the twentieth century. The article therefore concludes with a brief overview of the re-emergence of the language of constitutional faith in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, and the renewed reliance on this rhetoric of constitutional veneration by the judicial branch of government in an attempt to influence the development of a normative English constitutional and national identity.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Shakespeare and Judgment: The Renewal of Law and Literature

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Legal theorist Desmond Manderson and Shakespearean Paul Yachnin develop parallel arguments that seek to restore a public dimension of responsibility to literary studies and a private dimension of responsibility to law. Their arguments issue from their work as the creators of the Shakespeare Moot Court at McGill University, a course in which graduate English students team up with senior Law students to argue cases in “Court of Shakespeare,” where the sole Institutes, Codex, and Digest are comprised by the plays of Shakespeare. Yachnin argues that modern literary studies suffers from impermanence and isolation from real-world concerns and that it can redress these limitations — developing attributes of corrigibility, temporality, judgment, and publicity — by learning from law. Manderson finds modern legal judgment bereft of affective engagement with the subjects of law and wedded to an ideal of objectivity, regulation, and impersonality. Literature can restore to legal judgment the elements of narrative, character, context, and self-reflection. Together, the essays argue that the question of judgment, so integral to the disciplines of law and of literature, needs the renewal that an inter-disciplinary engagement provides.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Judicial Rhetoric and Constitutional Identity: Comparative Approaches to Aliens' Rights in the United Kingdom and Australia

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

A comparison between the judicial reasoning adopted by the House of Lords in Belmarsh and Torture Evidence cases, and the High Court of Australia's administrative detention cases (especially Al-Kateb) reveals stark differences in the approach to common law rights, judicial reasoning, and constitutional rhetoric. Using the language of historically-based identity-informing constitutional values, their Lordships' speeches can be seen as exercises in public and political persuasion, made within the idiom of constitutional veneration which is enjoying a renaissance in the UK. This emerging judicial rhetoric combines an appeal to a mythologised constitutional past with an emphasis on the quintessentially 'British' nature of the rights at stake to consolidate both the constitutional status of the 'principle of legality' and an inclusive notion of 'equality'. By contrast, the High Court's majority decisions are virtually devoid of the language of values, and are silent on the nature or status of the rights which Parliament was impliedly abrogating. The decisions are instead shrouded in the equally powerful rhetoric of strict legalism. Behind this purportedly valueless methodology, however, their Honours' decisions reveal attitudes towards aliens as 'illegal,' 'unlawful' and 'unwanted' rather than rights-bearers, and a judicial deference to Parliament to 'protect' an undefined Australian community. The arrival of French CJ to the helm of the High Court might see a reinvigoration of common law rights via the principle of legality.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

Judicial Rhetoric and Constitutional Identity: Comparative Approaches to Aliens' Rights in the United Kingdom and Australia

Author(s): Matthew Zagor

A comparison between the judicial reasoning adopted by the House of Lords in Belmarsh and Torture Evidence cases, and the High Court of Australia's administrative detention cases (especially Al-Kateb) reveals stark differences in the approach to common law rights, judicial reasoning, and constitutional rhetoric. Using the language of historically-based identity-informing constitutional values, their Lordships' speeches can be seen as exercises in public and political persuasion, made within the idiom of constitutional veneration which is enjoying a renaissance in the UK. This emerging judicial rhetoric combines an appeal to a mythologised constitutional past with an emphasis on the quintessentially 'British' nature of the rights at stake to consolidate both the constitutional status of the 'principle of legality' and an inclusive notion of 'equality'. By contrast, the High Court's majority decisions are virtually devoid of the language of values, and are silent on the nature or status of the rights which Parliament was impliedly abrogating. The decisions are instead shrouded in the equally powerful rhetoric of strict legalism. Behind this purportedly valueless methodology, however, their Honours' decisions reveal attitudes towards aliens as 'illegal,' 'unlawful' and 'unwanted' rather than rights-bearers, and a judicial deference to Parliament to 'protect' an undefined Australian community. The arrival of French CJ to the helm of the High Court might see a reinvigoration of common law rights via the principle of legality.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CIPL, CLAH, LRSJ

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Justice, Legal Theory, Migration and Movement of Peoples

From the Hudood Ordinances to the Protection of Women Act: Islamic Critiques of the Hudood Laws of Pakistan

Author(s): Moeen Cheema

This paper is an attempt to present an impartial review of the Islamized laws pertaining to sexual offences in Pakistan and to highlight the major structural and theoretical problems therein, paying particular attention to the perspectives of the modernist Islamists, human rights lawyers as well as traditionalist Islamic scholars. We hope to demonstrate that there is a set of fundamental theoretical disagreements between the modernist and traditional Islamic accounts which preclude the possibility of full agreement on the scope, remit and applicability of these laws. Over the last two decades the Shariat (Islamic) courts, although appearing to be responsive to some of the human rights criticisms and political opposition, have been unable to define the underlying philosophical premises on the basis of which they interpret and apply these laws. The legislature too has failed to resolve the fundamental tensions and recent legislative interventions represent a compromise between the two perspectives, while also accommodating the human rights critique through a number of procedural safeguards. This is typical of recent efforts at law reform in the context of 'de-Islamization' and means that in reality the real debate concerning the nature and scope of Islamic laws regulating sexual conduct is only being deferred.

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Centre: CIPL, LGDI

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Law, Governance and Development, Legal Theory

Governor Arthur’s Proclamation: Aboriginal People and the Deferral of the Rule of Law

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

2007 was a tumultuous year in Australian politics, culminating on November 24 with Federal elections in which the highly conservative Liberal Party government led by Mr. John Howard was, after eleven years in government, decisively defeated at the polls. Of particular note in that result was the defeat of the Prime Minister in his own electorate, and the dramatic and unexpected defeat of the Minister for Families and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, in his. Both have now left politics for good. But their legacy lives on, and it is my contention that the most significant aspect of that legacy is legislation which, enacted with unseemly haste and in the dying days of the Parliament, profoundly alters the legal treatment of Australian Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, a self-governing but sparsely populated region the size of France, Italy, and Spain combined. One-third of the Territory’s population is Aboriginal, far and away the most proportionally significant Indigenous population in the country. Yet very little serious analysis of the sweeping and complex laws proclaimed in August 2007 has been attempted. Such an analysis remains crucial not just because of the relationship between Indigenous and other people which it reflects but because the Labor Party, albeit reluctantly, voted in favor of the legislation when it was enacted. Now in government it has shown a marked reluctance to re-open the issue. Indeed at times Jenny Macklin, the new Minister for Indigenous Affairs, has talked about extending the laws to other Australian jurisdictions. Furthermore, to the extent that the new government has mooted changes to aspects of the legislation, the Labor Party does not have a majority in the Senate and will consequently face considerable difficulty in getting its amendments through the Parliament. Given the wave of emotion on which the legislative package was carried, and with which criticisms to its provisions are still fiercely met, they may feel disinclined to try very hard. Unless a serious critique is mounted which demonstrates as clearly as possible the ways in which these laws undermine basic principles of the Australian legal system, the opportunity to amend them will soon be lost and the fate of many Aboriginal communities as soon sealed. In bringing readers’ attention to the implications of the laws pertaining to the ‘intervention in the Northern Territory’, and which ought to concern all who have an interest in upholding the traditions of common law legality, I propose in this essay to set the contemporary issues against a broader theoretical debate, and with the assistance of two distinct perspectives.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

‘As If’ - the Court of Shakespeare and the Relationships of Law and Literature

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

The Shakespeare Moot Court is a form of serious play that inspires participating legal and literary students and professors to think about interdisciplinary in a new way - by doing it. Members of the Court apply their analytical and argumentative skills to the task of creating the law of Shakespeare, tackling matters of public concern such as same-sex marriage, crimes against humanity, and freedom of religion. In the course, senior Law students and graduate students from English team up to argue cases in the “Court of Shakespeare” (where the sole Institutes, Codex, and Digest are comprised by the plays of William Shakespeare). The Court involves students (as counsel) and Shakespeareans and legal scholars (as judges) in a competitive and collaborative form of play whose object is to engage with Shakespeare’s plays in order to render judgments concerning particular contemporary legal problems. In the first part, this essay reflects on critical practice in Shakespeare studies and the argues that the legal model of the moot court offers this practice dimensions of accountability, corrigibility, and temporality which are essential to the future of the critical practice of literary studies. Above all the Shakespeare Moot Court provides a new and necessary way of restoring Shakespeare criticism, or some significant part of it, to the public realm. In the second part, the argument is reversed. The literary conceit of the Shakespeare Moot Project serves to dramatize that literature’s very different orientation offers to the world of law a vital reminder that the question of judgment is always imbricated in the character, experiences, and subjectivity of the judge. This perspective, which was indeed universally understood as integral to the exercise of judgment, whether literary or legal, in Shakespeare’s time, seems in many ways to have been forgotten or sidelined in most modern understandings of law. For the literary theorist, the “privatization” of literature from the late eighteenth century on has obscured its role in public discourse, as the first part argues. For the legal theorist, as the second part argues, the “publicization” of law from the late eighteenth century on has obscured its connection to personal responsibility. The two arguments together demonstrate that the Enlightenment’s project of defining and dividing disciplines - allocating the realm of public action to law and that of private feeling to literature - has come at the cost of the relevance of one and the humanity of the other.

Read on SSRN

Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

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