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The role of the rule of law in the modern world

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Baroness Hale, the first woman to sit on Britain’s Supreme Court and the first family lawyer to fill the post, will officially launch the University of St Andrews’ new Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research next week with a public lecture at 1715 hours on Thursday 8 October in School III.

As Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Baroness Hale will use her lecture to discuss ‘The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom Constitution’, and whether the Supreme Court has evolved into a new form of constitutional court.

Parliamentary sovereignty is commonly regarded as the defining principle of Britain’s unwritten constitution. However Baroness Hale will argue that the core principal of Parliament’s ultimate law-making power has been affected by the ceding of legislative authority both to the European Union and to the devolved Scottish Parliament and other national assemblies within the United Kingdom. Scottish devolution has given the Supreme Court a new role in ruling on the validity of legislation within the bounds of devolved powers.

Speaking ahead of her lecture, Baroness Hale, said:

“It could be said that the rule of law is no longer the mere servant of Parliament but plays an important part in the ‘national narrative’ of protecting freedom and fundamental rights, a narrative which all four nations which currently make up the United Kingdom share.”

All are welcome to attend the lecture, which offers an insight into how the shared ‘national narrative’ of modern Britain can be understood as the fusion of law, constitutional principles and the evolving relationships between courts and parliaments.

This lecture builds on centuries of law and jurisprudence and gives a modern, forward-looking perspective in the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary year. It is expected to be the first of many lectures bringing distinguished scholars and public figures to Fife to engage with the University’s new Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research.

The Institute will provide a home for outstanding, collaborative research in law and constitutionalism, drawing together scholars from the fields of history, international relations, literature and beyond. Particular expertise lies within the fields of legal history, legal humanities and global constitutionalism.

John Hudson, Institute Director, said:

“With constitutional issues dominating politics more than at any time in the last century, now is the ideal moment to launch our new Institute and there could be no more fitting person to give the Institute’s opening lecture than Baroness Hale.”


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Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews. Contact Corporate Communications on 01334 462530 or email proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk

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