Law and Institutions
London School of Economics was founded in 1895 by the Fabian Society of England which came from the intellectual wing of the labour movement and is recognized as one of the top schools in Economics and Social Sciences. It was the answer to the rise and reputation of Oxford and Cambridge which favoured the upper classes of England. LSE was founded by George Bernand Shaw, Sidney Webb, and Beatrice Webb and Graham Wallas in 1895. Their memory lives on currently in the Shaw Library on the third floor of the LSE building at Houghton Street, London, where there is a stained coloured glass window on display which was designed by George Bernard Shaw, and made by the artist Caroline Townsend who was commissioned to do it. The globe in the picture symbolizes the reshaping of the world. The first unveiling of the window was done by Clement Atlee who was also a lecturer at LSE. The window was lost for 25 years and later after it was discovered it was unveiled by Tony Blair in recent years. LSE is considered a liberal intellectual institution of education and well respected in the commonwealth countries and the world and the School has contributed a great deal in educating the elite of many countries, including John F. Kennedy and Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
Lord Denning (1899-1999) came from a humble background but with his wit and ability became a very famous lawyer and later a judge, Master of the Rolls. He became a legendary figure in the legal world in England with many written judgments which reflected liberal and innovative attitudes in the law. He was elected Treasurer of Lincoln’s Inn in 1964. He is mentioned in the novel for his lecture.
Thirteen colonies of England in the United States rejected the dominance of Britain in the Colonial Empire with the Boston Tea party in 1773 and founded it own constitution in Philadelphia separating the Executive power from the Legislative and Judicial. Boston Tea party stands for the dumping of the entire shipment of tea brought to the US by the East India Company in protest of the Tea Act of England which imposed tax on Americans. This act of defiance and subsequent independence from Britain has shaped the culture of a society that has helped it to emerge as a dominant economic and military power of the world after the second war with ambition to lead the world with a democratic model inherited from Britain during colonial days. The slaves brought to American colonies from East and West African countries during the colonial period has left the country deeply divided with social unrest and racial discrimination. About 15% of American population is black. US culture, which arose from the defiance of the colonial rule and class structure of England, has evolved a society which attempts to remove the vestiges of colour and class and elected its first black president, Barak Obama, in 2009.
Commonwealth is comprised of about 53 countries, which were the past colonies of Britain and they share in the values of democratic governance, and independent judiciary and the legal system inherited from England. The British Crown is recognized as the head of many former colonies. There are 2 billion people in those countries with almost a third of the world population of the world follow the Common Law adversarial legal system, where the rights of each person are represented in court by separate counsel for resolution by an independent judiciary. It is unlike the inquisitorial judicial system of civil law countries where the Judge inquires and resolves the differences. Commonwealth countries meet regularly and have a commonwealth secretariat. Many of the values of the British culture including the parliamentary democracy and the judicial system are continued in these countries but with local variations of culture and traditions. Former French colonies of France meet as Francophonie and follow the French language and traditions and civil law. French and English language and cultural institutions dominate the world culture of today.
Lincoln’s Inn is the oldest Inn of Court with records dating back 600 years. It is located in the Lincoln’s Inn Fields where the Royal Courts of London are also located. Prior to establishment of Lincoln’s Inn and other Inns of Court, Cannon law or religious law was taught by the clergy in England. On 2nd December, 1234, Henry III decreed that no institution of legal education could exist within the City of London. Common law Barristers practicing nonecclesiatical law migrated to the hamlet of Holborn which were nearest to the courts at Westminister Hall outside the city boundaries of the time. This Inn along with three other Inns of Court are responsible for calls to the Bar of Barristers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Traditionally a member of the Royal Family sits as a Bencher at dinners of the Inns of Court. Many Commonwealth Students of Law are called to the Bar at this Inn. The other three Inns of Court are Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray’s Inn. Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II, was an honorary bencher of the Lincoln’s Inn in mid Sixties. Students of Law at Inns of Court must attend requisite numbers of dinners with gowns in medieval settings of the Inns to learn the traditions of respect, courtesy and dignity. Dinners are still compulsory today to be called to the Bar in England. Dinners were intended to provide a forum for students and barristers to gather over dinner and share ideas in law. Today there is not much interaction between the students and senior members of the bar at dinners. The development of self governing profession governed by elected Benchers was developed over centuries at the Inn of Court and that tradition is continued in the English speaking provinces of Canada. The Law Society of Upper Canada of Ontario uses the long hall at Osgoode Hall as a place for meetings and replicates the atmosphere of the Inns of Court but does not have the requirement of compulsory dinners for call to the Bar. Osgoode Hall on Queen Street in is the home of the Law Society of Upper Canada in Canada which was started by six Barristers from England in 1797.
Solicitors in England are still a separate profession. That profession was developed to deal directly with clients who were not permitted to deal directly with Barristers. Class distinctions in the legal profession continues in England but has been modified over the recent years. The two professions remain separate making it difficult for the client to relate to Barrister and gain trust in legal problems where the relationship of trust is paramount. Solicitors have become integral part of the legal profession with right to appear in lower courts and do paper work for the clients such as conveyancing. Solicitors must retain a Barrister to argue the matter in higher courts and their fees are discussed through the clerks of the chamber. In most commonwealth countries, including Canada, outside of Quebec, law is practiced by lawyers doing both Solicitors and Barrister’s work. Most of the countries which inherited the common law system including US have one unified profession for lawyers. English class structure of English society still pervades the legal profession in which there are very few non-English Barristers.