Membership of the Society is open to anyone. Our Society includes members of the judiciary, practising lawyers, academic lawyers, historians, students and members of the general public.
The Irish Legal History Society examines, explores and engages with all issues relating to legal history on the island of Ireland, from earliest times to the present day. Founded in 1988, the Society holds two Discourses annually, as well as publishing scholarly works on a range of legal history subjects. On this website you can see our range of publications, you can find out about our recent and future events, as well as information about joining.
Our major event for 2016 will be a 2-day conference at Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral, exploring the legacy of Magna Carta in Ireland.
Ius Commune in the Making: The Place of Legal Sources in the History of Private Law
The 21st Ius Commune Conference will take place in Maastricht from 24-25 November 2016, and a panel will be devoted to the role of legal sources in the history of Private Law.
Legal changes can be often explained by attending the interaction of legal actors, legal sources, and legal institutions. Legal sources indeed play an important role and occupy a paramount place in the shaping of private law. They offer the necessary building blocks for private law, together with a playfield for legal actors and legal institutions. The current Workshop builds on a previous Workshop on Comparative Legal History held during the 19th Ius Commune Conference and that explored the role of legal actors.
The current Workshop aims now to explore the place of legal sources promoting or hindering changes in private law. Perspectives will be extracted from different time periods, including Roman law, Ius commune, nineteenth-century codification, and the more recent efforts towards an European private law harmonization. The praetorian Edict, medieval glosses and commentaries, early modern handbooks on natural or customary law, collections of judicial decisions since the end of the early modern period, the modern codifications all related differently to legal and societal changes. The question is whether these sources promoted private law to be in harmony (Einklang) with society and societal changes.
Senior researchers and PhD candidates are invited to submit an abstract of a paper related to the above mentioned theme. Abstracts (aprox. 400 words) should be sent to Agustin Parise (email@example.com) by July 20, 2016.
For further information, please contact:
Harry Dondorp (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Michael Milo (email@example.com)
Pim Oosterhuis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Agustin Parise (email@example.com)
JEV Research Fellowship for European Administrative History 2017
The research fellowship is donated by Professor Erk Volkmar Heyen who until his retirement had been holder of the chair of Public Law and European Administrative Law at the Ernst Moritz Arndt University Greifswald. He was also the editor of the “Jahrbuch für europäische Verwaltungsgeschichte/Yearbook of European Administrative History” (JEV). His awarding is based on a selection procedure organized by the Max Planck Institute.
Applications for the year 2017 can be submitted until 30 September 2016.
As we approach the centenary in 2019 of women’s admission to the legal profession in the UK and Ireland, lawyers and legal scholars have initiated several projects to mark this achievement which aim to uncover and recover the history of women’s experiences of law. These include the Women’s Legal Landmarks project, the First 100 Years project and the First Women Lawyers in Great Britain and the Empire Symposium series. This is a golden age for legal scholars undertaking historical work on women and law and for historians working on legal issues.
At the same time, many scholars involved in these and other projects face challenges of methodological insecurity, if not ignorance, because they are working outside their own discipline and sources. Women’s legal history, while well-developed in North America, is still in its infancy in the UK and Ireland.
A conference will take place at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studes in London on 26 October 2016.
The aim of this conference is to bring together scholars working in the field to share experiences of doing women’s legal history, to learn from each other, and to build and develop the discipline of feminist legal history (that is, women’s legal history from a feminist perspective) in the UK and Ireland.
There will be two plenary speakers at the conference:
- June Purvis, feminist historian, editor of the Women’s History Review and convenor of the Women’s History Network, who will talk about researching the suffragette movement from a feminist perspective and how the suffragettes have so often been represented by traditional (usually male) historians as mad, irrational, and damaging to the cause of votes for women; and
- Gillian Murphy from the Women’s Library at the LSE, who will discuss the holdings of the Women’s Library including both primary and secondary sources relevant to scholars working on women’s legal history.
If you are interested in presenting a paper at the conference, please submit a title and abstract of 250 words to the organiser, Rosemary Auchmuty, to whom enquiries on the academic content of the conference should also be addressed. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is 31 July 2016.
For general enquiries please contact: Belinda Crothers, Academic Programmes Manager Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR. Email: Belinda.Crothers@sas.ac.uk
The American Society for Legal History's annual conference 2016 takes place in Toronto, Ontario from 27-30 October. Details about the conference and how to book are available here.
On 27 October, a one-day workshop will be held at the downtown campus of Osgoode Hall Law School to increase awareness of digital legal history, and encourage discussion of how digital methods and technologies can be used to analyze and present the legal past, and of new initiatives to undertake such projects.
The workshop combines an extended showcase of four projects that each employs a different approach — O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law and Family; The Lawyers’ Code: Tracking the Migration and Influence of the Field Code; Digital Harlem; and Voices of Authority: the Old Bailey Courtroom — and a set of hands-on workshops offering a beginner-level introduction to the methods used in those projects. Further details are available on the workshop website.
Law and The Idea of Liberty in Ireland: From Magna Carta to the Present
What is the place of Ireland in the story of Magna Carta’s global dissemination? Four centuries before the Great Charter crossed the Atlantic, it was already implanted across the Irish Sea. A two-day conference in the Music Room of Christ Church Cathedral will explore the legal-historical background to Magna Carta in Ireland, the reception of the charter into English law in Ireland, the political and polemical uses to which the charter was put, and its twentieth and twentieth-first century invocations as a living presence in contemporary Irish law.
The conference takes place on 25 and 26 November and places can be booked via Eventbrite.
Friday 25 November 2016
10.45 Welcome and opening remarks
11.00–12.30 Session 1:
Claire Breay ‘Celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta at the British Library in 2015’
Seán Duffy ‘The political background to Magna Carta: King John and Ireland’
Peter Crooks ‘1216, 1366 and all that: Magna Carta and exclusionary liberties in late medieval Ireland’
13.30–15.00 Session 2:
Adrian Empey ‘Conquest and common law’
Sparky Booker ‘The legal capabilities of female litigants in the courts of the colony, c.1350–1500’
15.00–15.30 Tea and coffee
15.30–17.00 Session 3:
Ian Campbell ‘Magna Carta in Irish political theory, 1541–1660’
Coleman Dennehy ‘Nisi per legale judicium parium suorum: parliament, politics, and the right to trial by peer’
Colum Kenny ‘Myth, Mervyn and the “Irish Magna Carta” of 1662’
17.00 Tea and coffee
18.00 Keynote Lecture: Paul Brand ‘Magna Carta in Ireland, 1215–1320'
Saturday 26 November
11.00–12.30 Session 4:
Jimmy Kelly ‘Era of Liberty? The politics of political rights in eighteenth-century Ireland’
Patrick Geoghegan ‘Daniel O’Connell, Magna Carta and the idea of liberty’
13.30–15.00 Session 5:
Tom Mohr ‘Liberty in an Irish Free State, 1922–37’
Bláthna Ruane ‘Magna Carta and modern Irish constitutionalism’
John Larkin ‘Magna Carta and the Irish statute books’
Further details are available here.
We are delighted to announce the publication of Thomas Mohr's Guardian of the Treaty by Four Courts Press. Further details are available on our publications page.
All members of the Society will receive a complimentary copy, while non-members can purchase their copy here.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was the final appellate court of the British Empire. Dr. Mohr examines the history of the Irish appeal to the Privy Council in the 1920s and 30s, and looks at the politics behind appeals.
In 1935 the Irish Free State became the first part of the Empire to abolish the right of appeal to the Privy Council.
The front cover features a painting of the Privy Council chamber by Ptolemy Dean.
Call for Papers for the 23rd British Legal History Conference 2017: Networks and Connections
Wednesday 5 July 2017 – Saturday 8 July 2017
About the Conference
The Conference will be held from the 5th to the 8th of July 2017. Registration will be on the 5th of July. Delegates will be able to find accommodation in the wide range of nearby hotels.
Call for Papers
Proposals concerning any epoch or part of the world are welcome and proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are encouraged.
Proposals for papers (maximum 300 words) should be sent to email@example.com by 26 August 2016.
Dr Ian Williams, Faculty of Laws, UCL
Professor Michael Lobban, LSE Law
See the conference website
One of our recent publications has been attracting widespread positive reviews on both sides of the Irish Sea. W.N. Osborough's The Irish Stage: a Legal History (Four Courts Press, 2015) has been favourably reviewed in the Dublin Review of Books (November 2015) and the Times Literary Supplement (March 2016) [subscription required]
The book has been described as 'meticulously researched...highly original' (TLS), and Professor Osborough described as 'the doyen of Irish legal academics' (DRB). Further details about the book are available on our Publications page.
The latest issue of Comparative Legal History is a special edition on Lay Participation in Legal Systems:
Markus Dubber & Heikki Pihlajamäki: 'Lay participation in modern law: a comparative historical analysis'
David Mirhady: 'Knowing the law and deciding justice: lay expertise in the democratic Athenian courts'
Anthony Musson: 'Lay participation: the paradox of the jury'
Niamh Howlin: 'The politics of jury trials in nineteenth-century Ireland' (limited free access here)
Simon Stern: 'Forensic oratory and the jury trial in nineteenth-century America'
Markus Dubber: 'The schizophrenic jury and other palladia of liberty: a critical historical analysis'
As part of the ongoing 1916 commemorations, three members of the Council of the Irish Legal History Society have contributed to the latest edition Irish Independent's Special 1916 Supplement Series.
These supplements are aimed at a broad readership and will be made available in all secondary schools.
Dr Niamh Howlin: "The Trial of Roger Casement: A Legal Travesty?"
Mr. Felix M. Larkin: "Out of Step: Dublin Newspapers' Response to the Rising"
Mr. Robert Marshall: "Charles Blackader: Old Black's Military Court Fired Volleys"
The Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (MPIeR) will be awarding several scholarships for a research stay at the institute in 2017.
Postdoc Scholarships enable highly qualified researchers from abroad who already obtained a PhD to either develop a new research topic in a thematically relevant context or to pursue an already existing project. Established researchers from abroad who have received their PhD more than 10 years ago can apply for a Research Scholarship, which enables them to come to the institute as a guest in order to pursue their own research project at the MPIeR.
The deadline is March 2016 to start in 2017. They are for 3 or 6 months and are paid (€2100 p.m. for postdoc, 2300 p.m. for research).
click here for further details
On 27 November outgoing President of the Society, Mr Robert Marshall, delivered his presidential discourse. His paper, entitled 'Lisnafanna: A Townland in Turmoil on the Cavan Headford Estate 1870-1900', was based on a close study of the Headford estate papers. The paper provided some fascinating insights into the existence and operation of subversive or subaltern law on a Cavan estate in the late nineteenth century. It looked specifically at the National League's boycotting campaign and how this operated at a local and personal level. Interestingly, even on an estate where the Plan was in place, roughly two thirds of rent was still paid.
Mr Marshall went on to consider the legal procedures and processes which followed the fatal shooting of one of the boycotters. The coroner's inquest saw the apportionment of some blame to the constabulary. Although a verdict of murder was returned by the coroner's jury, the grand jury, by contrast, found 'no true bill', and the case did not proceed to trial.
All of this illustrates the role of the community in policing and sanctioning certain behaviours, and it the paper also explored the complex relationship between the 'official' law and the subaltern code.
A full text of the paper will be published in one of the Society's upcoming collections of essays.