Daily Archives: July 20, 2010

Law Unto Themselves

Courtesy Daily Times.

Ahmad Shah Abdali, the hero of our Pakistani textbooks and a first-class marauder, would have wondered what all the fuss was about when his contemporaries Edmund Burke and Fox took Robert Clive to task in the English parliament for his corruption

All England Law Reports — the most reliable record of English case law — date back to 1558. Recorded case law dates back another 400 years prior to that. In 1558, the English began to see the benefit of compiling and publishing case law for easy reference.

Institutions like Lincoln’s Inn had already been serving the legal community since the 13th century when a papal decree forbade clergy from teaching common law, thereby separating temporal law from the church. Thus, by the time All England Law Reports were being organised, the modern English legal system was already into its third or fourth century. Consider, then, that in 1558, Mughal emperor Akbar the Great ruled as a despot with a remarkable concentration of power and Suleiman the Magnificent ruled the Ottoman Empire as God’s shadow on earth. These two great monarchs were literally the law, while in England, the greatest queen to rule the western world, ruled limited by the Magna Carta — arguably the world’s first modern constitution. Continue reading

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