Category Archives: Legal History

‘Remembering Hershel Shanks (1930-2021) and the Dead Sea Scrolls copyright case: As relevant as ever’

“If there is a place in the world to come for iconic copyright disputes, then surely the 1990’s Israeli case of Kimron v Shanks, better known as the Dead Sea Scrolls case, will enjoy permanent tenancy. This Kat was reminded of it when he read that Hershel Shanks, the chief defendant in that dispute, here […]

Babette Boliek, ‘Upgrading Unconscionability: A Common Law Ally for a Digital World’

ABSTRACT To work, go to school, shop and even to communicate with each other, Americans live by the terms of myriad tech company contracts. Indeed, any time someone presses the ‘I agree’ button that pops up on a website – the clicking of which is required to continue on – they have entered into such […]

‘Known Unknowns: Legal Responses to Intractable Uncertainties’, 23 April 2021, University of Bristol

This one-day online symposium will investigate, from a comparative historical perspective, the ways in which the law frames and responds to problems of intractable factual uncertainty. Where our ordinary evidential rules simply cannot produce a satisfactory answer to a factual question, the substantive law must choose how to proceed. This might, for example, involve the […]

Isaac Freckleton, Landmark Cases in Defamation Law (David Rolph ed)

Landmark Cases in Defamation Law. Edited by David Rolph. [Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2019. xxviii + 250 pp. Hardback £70.00. ISBN 978-1-50991-674-0.] If today a celebrity discovers a picture of her face superimposed on a sex model, she may turn in her upset to the laws of privacy and copyright to get the obscene image removed […]

JH Baker, ‘Indebitatus Assumpsit in 1447’

“It might not have been foreseen that computer technology would revolutionise the study of legal history; but the ability to take digital photographs in libraries and record offices has begun to affect profoundly the work English legal historians. And the most useful publicly available mine of previously unpublished legal information is the enormous collection of […]

Casey Marina Lurtz, ‘Codifying Credit: Everyday Contracting and the Spread of the Civil Code in Nineteenth-Century Mexico’

ABSTRACT Between the 1870s and the 1910s, municipal court officials in southernmost Mexico recorded contracts regarding small debts and credits in what they labeled libros de conocimientos. While only very rarely citing Mexico’s new civil codes of the 1870s and 1880s, the contracts contained in these registers regularly engaged with the kinds of agreements, guarantees, […]

Emma Cavell, ‘The Measure of Her Actions: A Quantitative Assessment of Anglo-Jewish Women’s Litigation at the Exchequer of the Jews, 1219–81’

ABSTRACT Taking a chiefly quantitative approach to Jewish women’s litigation at the Exchequer of the Jews between in the period 1219-81, this article represents the first exploration of Jewish women before the law in medieval England. It contends that, far from enjoying a level of ‘legal sexual equality’ not available to Christian women, Anglo-Jewish women […]

Elizabeth Pollman, ‘The History and Revival of the Corporate Purpose Clause’

ABSTRACT The corporate purpose debate is experiencing a renaissance. The contours of the modern debate are relatively well developed and typically focus on whether corporations should pursue shareholder value maximization or broader social aims. A related subject that has received much less scholarly attention, however, is the formal legal mechanism by which a corporation expresses […]

Caterina Sganga, ‘The role of copyright history in casting out the demons of copyright propertization’

ABSTRACT Scholars from both side of the Atlantic Ocean converge on the assumption that the qualification of copyright as a property right has always led to the expansion of scope and duration of authors’ exclusive rights to the detriment of exceptions and the public interest. According to this narrative, the shift from monopoly-based to property-based […]

‘Discourtesy about curtesy: land squabbles in Victorian “Brecknockshire”’

“Another set of documents on the list for the next National Archives trip involves a raid into the nineteenth century, to tie up some loose ends relating to tenancy by the curtesy (widower’s right to hold land after wife’s death, which, at common law, depended on the birth of a living child to the parents). […]