Robert Reed, ‘Time Present and Time Past: Legal Development and Legal Tradition in the Common Law’

“The title of my lecture, ‘Time Present and Time Past’, is the opening line of TS Eliot’s Burnt Norton, the first poem in his Four Quartets. The poems make clear the importance which Eliot attached to history and tradition in understanding the world and our place in it. He is far from alone in that view. Our bestseller lists, our cinema and television all reflect the importance that we attach to our sense of the past, and of our connection to it. English law has a particularly strong relationship with the past. Although it is often presented as a set of rules which can be subjected to logical analysis, that conception does not explain a number of aspects of the law: for example, how common law rules and principles came into being, how they have come to be regarded as legitimate, and how they have the capacity to develop over time …” (more)

Lord Reed of Allermuir, President of the Supreme Court, ‘Time Present and Time Past: Legal Development and Legal Tradition in the Common Law’ The Neill Law Lecture 2022, University of Oxford, 25 February 2022.

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