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Legal and Judicial Legacies of Empire

Commonwealth Legal Education Association 05 June 2014: The impact of Britain’s legal legacy on the countries of the former empire will be analysed and discussed by some of the finest legal brains in the Commonwealth on Tuesday June 17 at Senate House.

It’s the sixth in a series of conferences exploring the legacy of the British Empire for today’s Commonwealth countries. The series is intended to enable practitioners, both past and present, to record the practical effect of that legacy in their various countries. This conference is organised jointly by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies(ICwS), the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association and the Overseas Service Pensioners’ Association (OSPA).  It is being funded and sponsored byOSPA, the international law firm Stephenson Harwood, the Commonwealth Secretariat Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies which, like the ICwS, is a member of London University’s School of Advanced Study.

Legal and Judicial Legacies of Empire boasts a line-up of speakers that reads like a who’s who of the international judiciary. Among the legal experts are former chief justices from Guyana (Justice Desiree Bernard) and from Lesotho (Mahapela Lehohla), India’s former Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee and a Sharia judge from Malaysia, Dr Haji Mohd Na’im Mokhtar. They are joined by barristers, leading law academics and human rights experts.

Lord Judge, former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, will set the scene for this one-day event with an opening keynote address entitled, Some thoughts on Magna Carta. Nearly 800 years old, the Magna Carta, has been an influential document for democracy and constitutional law worldwide.

As the Director of the ICwS, Professor Philip Murphy notes ‘one of the central research interests of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies is the way in which the legacies of European expansion and imperialism in earlier centuries are of continuing relevance to contemporary society and international relations. The legal legacy of Empire is one of the most marked.  As such, we and our partner organisations are delighted to be able to bring together such a distinguished group of practitioners and academics to discuss this important issue’.

The conference programme is divided into five sessions and includes discussions on: the application of English law and other legal systems in the Empire and after Independence; the Evolution of Courts; the Dark Side of the Moon: the Legacy of old Laws; Human Rights and the New Common Law of the Commonwealth.  The conference is open to anybody interested in these topics, with the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

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