The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society in association with Wolfson College and the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford invites you to:

The Putney Debates 2018: Powers to the Peoples – Electoral Reform and a Federal UK?

A follow-up to the landmark 2017 Debates on the constitutional questions posed by Brexit

St Mary’s Church, High St, Putney, London SW15 1SN

2–7.30pm, Friday 2 February 2018

As the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland strives for unity in the face of Brexit, the Oxford Foundation for Law, Justice and Society invites you to the Putney Debates 2018, a debate on the spirit and structure of our democratic settlement.

Over 500 people took part in the Putney Debates 2017, and a collected volume of the Debates has been sent to every MP and High Court judge in the land.

Since that debate at the start of last year, much has changed. Recent developments – including government efforts to invoke prerogative powers, Anglo-Irish relations and the border question, and the impact of external interference and ‘fake news’ on democratically held elections – have raised fundamental questions about our democracy.

The 2018 Debates will consider the need for electoral reform and the case for a Federal United Kingdom, to bring together the peoples of the UK.


The Debates will be chaired by Denis Galligan, Emeritus Professor of Socio-Legal Studies and the convenor of last year’s Debates. They will preside over two panels of respected figures from the law, philosophy, and civil society:

  • Robert Hazell CBE, founder of the Constitution Unit and the Independent Commission on Proportional Representation, will set out the case for and against electoral reform;
  • Prominent Brexit critic and Professor of European Law Michael Dougan will discuss the UK internal market and its far-reaching implications for constitutional relations across the constituent nations of the UK;
  • Eminent philosopher Professor Sir Richard Sorabji will comment on the country’s needs and national morale in relation to legislative change;
  • Anna Coote, social policy analyst and writer, will address how the electoral system reflects wider social phenomena concerning power, inequality, and control;
  • Richard Clary, Partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, will offer insights into the legal and political implications of a federalist model from across the pond;
  • Constitutional and human rights lawyer Sionaidh Douglas-Scott will discuss the rights of Scottish citizens with respect to Brexit and the case for greater devolved powers;
  • Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, will outline her proposals for electoral reform.

Join us for this landmark debate on the nature of our representative democracy.

Register to attend