Oxford Public Law Book Festival: Jack Beatson, 'Key Ideas in Law: The Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers' (Hart Publishing 2021)

Event date
26 October 2021
Event time
17:00 - 18:30
Oxford week
MT 3
Online - Zoom Meeting
Jack Beatson; Hayley Hooper; Lord Neuberger


The Oxford Public Law Book Festival is delighted to invite you to a discussion of Jack Beatson's new book, 'Key Ideas in Law: The Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers'. The event will bring together several public law experts who will discuss the argument and themes of the book.

About the Book

Prompted by the events following the 2016 referendum on EU membership and written during the COVID-19 pandemic by one of the leading public lawyers of our day, this book considers two key constitutional principles, the rule of law and separation of powers, by examining the generality, certainty and predictability of law, relations between the different branches of the state, and the mechanisms of accountability within our democracy.

Since the referendum and in the light of the restrictions imposed to deal with the pandemic, and the use of guidelines presented as rules to do so, attention has refocused on the relationship and respective powers and competences of the three branches of the state, the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. They have also placed strains on our unwritten constitution that have been unknown in modern times.

The role of the courts and of the rule of law, has been dramatically illustrated by recent litigation, most notably the decisions on whether legislation was needed to serve notice of the UK's intention to leave the EU and whether the prorogation of the Westminster Parliament in 2019 was a matter for the courts as opposed to a political question for government.

Set against this backdrop, the book answers the following questions:
- How accessible is the law and how does it avoid arbitrariness?
- How is access to justice protected?
- How does our constitution reflect the separation of powers and the balance of responsibilities between law and politics?
- How does our democracy enable majorities and protect minorities?

About the Author

Sir Jack Beatson studied law at Brasenose College Oxford and obtained first class degrees (BA and BCL). Called to the bar (Inner Temple) in 1973, he became a bencher in 1994 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1998. In 2000 he was awarded a higher doctorate (DCL) by the University of Oxford for distinction by original contribution to the advancement of the study of law.

He was until February 2018 a member of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Between 2003 and 2012, he was a Judge of the High Court, primarily sitting in the Commercial Court and the Administrative Court. He had previously combined academic and public roles with a mixed commercial and public law practice at what is now Essex Court Chambers (which he joined in 1983). He was the Rouse Ball Professor of English Law at Cambridge University and a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge between1994 and 2003, a member of what is now the United Kingdom’s Competition Commission between 1995 and 2001, a Law Commissioner for England and Wales between 1989 and 1994, and before that had been a Fellow of Merton College Oxford and a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford. He is currently an Honorary Fellow of Merton, an Honorary Fellow of Brasenose, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford's Faculty of Law.

About the Discussants

Hayley J. Hooper is an Associate Professor in Law. She is also an academic affiliate of the Bonavero Institute for Human Rights. She holds an LL.B from the University of Glasgow, and a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL), M.Phil in Law, and a D.Phil in Law from the University of Oxford. Her teaching interests include European Union Law, Constitutional Law, and Administrative Law. Her interests are broadly within the fields of Constitutional Law and Administrative Law. Hayley is the co-author of Parliament's Secret War (Hart: Bloomsbury, 2018). This book concerns war powers in the British Constitution and offers a critical inquiry into the Westminster Parliament's role in relation to the war prerogative since the beginning of the twentieth century. Hayley is also working on a monograph on the closed material procedure, a process that facilitates the use of national security evidence in civil litigation. 

Lord Neuberger is the former President of the United Kingdom Supreme Court. He was called to the Bar in 1975 and practised largely in property law, taking silk in 1987. His practice involved a large amount of court and arbitration advocacy, as well as much advisory work. He was appointed a High Court Judge, sitting in the Chancery Division, in 1996, where he tried a number of cases involving financial and commercial contractual disputes, revenue law, company law, insolvency law, IP law, and property law, professional negligence. He was made Supervisory Chancery Judge for Midland, Wales and Chester and Western Circuits from 2001. In 2004, he was made a Lord Justice of Appeal, and a Privy Counsellor. In the same year, he was appointed Judge in charge of IT and modernisation. In 2007 he was promoted to be a Law Lord and became a peer. He was appointed Master of the Rolls in 2009, and became President of the United Kingdom Supreme Court in 2012, a position from which he retired in 2017. In 2017, he started practising as an arbitrator and legal expert from One Essex Court.

Found within

Public Law