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The English Common Law Method[16 Mar]

Speaker£ºProf. Keith Hawkins, Emeritus Professor of Law and Society, University of Oxford
Chair£ºCheng Lei£¬Associate Professor of Renmin law school
Time£º13:30-15:00, 16 March(Friday), 2018
Venue£ºRoom725 MIngde Law building


Keith Hawkins holds the degrees of LL.B. (Birmingham); Diploma in Criminology, M.A., and Ph.D. from Cambridge University; together with an M.A., and D.Phil. from Oxford University. His first post was as Research Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. When the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies was opened in Oxford University in 1972 Hawkins was appointed as the first member of the research staff, together with a fellowship at Wolfson College. In 1993, Hawkins was appointed by the University to a newly established teaching position in Oxford and moved to a Tutorial Fellowship in Law at Oriel College, where he remains as Fellow Emeritus. Hawkins retired from Oxford University as Professor Emeritus of Law and Society in 2006, whereupon he was appointed Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics for a period of four years.

Hawkins has held a number of academic posts overseas, including a Ford Foundation Fellowship at Columbia Law School New York; a Visiting Fellowship at the National Institute of Justice in the US Justice Department, Washington DC; and Visiting Professorships at the law schools of the University of Texas in Austin and the Ohio State University. Among other appointments, Hawkins served as a Member of the Parole Board for England and Wales on two separate occasions, and was for many years a member of the Research Committee of the American Bar Foundation in Chicago. He also served for nearly 20 years as General Editor of Oxford Socio-Legal Studies, a series of books published by Oxford University Press, and was editor for nearly 20 years of the journal Law and Policy.

This lecture makes a contrast between formalist legal analysis and socio-legal perspectives. A comparison is drawn between common law and civil law as they appear in theory and practice, with an argument that both models of law probably operate in more similar ways than would be expected from theoretical analysis. English common law treats its judges as persons of special; authority, with real law-making power, raising questions about who becomes a judge, and how representative they are of the public they serve. The basic characteristics of English common law are discussed and illustrated by reference to the famous case of Donoghue v Stevenson. Is the common law method efficient?

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