Watch the 2022 Hamlyn Lectures

The Hamlyn Lectures 2022 examine the role of courts in the body politic. There were three lectures. The first was delivered in Belfast on 2nd November, the second in Glasgow on 9th November and the third in Oxford on 16th November. The first lecture explores the expanding role of courts across the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, explaining that the expansion has occurred in tandem with the spread of written constitutions. Responses to this expansion are often binary, with some enthusiastically embracing the role of courts as guarantors of democracy and others deploring it, but the lecture argues that these responses often obstruct our understanding of the role that courts can and do play in different constitutional settings. The second lecture explores the relationship between courts and the executive branch of government, noting that holding a powerful executive to account is often a perilous exercise for courts, although it is one the rule of law requires them to perform. The lecture argues that the relationship between courts and the executive is challenging not only because of the power of the executive, but also because of the different and, at times, incompatible ways in which the executive and courts work. The third lecture turns to fundamental rights and the appropriate role of courts and legislatures in their protection.  It starts with the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the aftermath of the Second World War, which led to the adoption of a range of international treaties imposing obligations upon states to protect human rights, including the European Convention of Human Rights in 1950.  The lecture examines the key disagreement, particularly in the Anglo-American world, about how human rights should best be protected in democracies.

Lecture One: The Expanding Role of the Courts

  • Date: 2 November 2022
  • Venue: Moot Court Room, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Chair: Professor Kieran McEvoy

Lecture Two: Courts and the Executive Branch of Government

  • Date: 9 November 2022
  • Venue: Senate Room, Main Building, University of Glasgo
  • Chair: Professor Nicole Busby, Professor in Human Rights, Equality and Justice

Lecture Three: Courts and the Body Politic

  • Date: 16 November 2022
  • Venue: Sir Joseph Hotung Auditorium, Mansfield College, Oxford
  • Chair: Helen Mountfield KC