The Faculty of Law was delighted to welcome the distinguished judge and jurist Dyson Heydon back to Oxford on Wednesday 23 January 2013. Justice Heydon spoke to a crowded Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre on the topic “Are Bills of Rights necessary in common law systems?” Lord Sumption of the United Kingdom Supreme Court chaired the lecture. In his lecture Justice Heydon was critical of the assumption that judicially-enforced enumerated rights involving strong powers to reinterpret legislation was the soundest method to guarantee human rights in a liberal society. He gave a taxonomy of methods of human rights protection, and suggested that political and cultural forms of protection should be rated more highly.
Justice Heydon was a Vinerian Scholar at Oxford where he was appointed Fellow and Tutor in Jurisprudence at Keble College before returning to a Chair in Law at the University of Sydney at the age of 30, serving as Dean shortly afterwards. Following a distinguished career at the Sydney bar he became a judge of the New South Wales Court of Appeal in 2000 and a High Court justice in 2003. He has been a regular visitor to Oxford where he has taught and lectured on a wide span of subjects including equity, constitutional law, evidence, legal history and the nature of the judicial role.
Justice Heydon and Lord Sumption in conversation before the lecture.