Exploring the Fundamentals of Public Law

On the 27th and 28th September 2018, St John’s hosted a large international conference, The Foundations and Future of Public Law: A Conference in Honour of Paul Craig. Paul Craig has been a member of the Law Faculty since 1974 (including as Professor of English Law at St John’s since 1998) and is at the scholarly frontiers of exploring the substantive nature of public law in a range of different jurisdictions. His work is remarkable for its scholarly breadth and depth. It is widely cited in both legal scholarship and practice, and has been instrumental in opening up new areas for research and analysis. This is important. Given the rapid pace of change in public law it is crucial it does not lose connection with its essential nature.

Using Paul Craig’s inspiring work in public and EU law as a launching pad, leading scholars and practitioners from across the world explored and debated the fundamentals of these subjects and possible future trajectories over the two days. Speakers included: Nick Barber, Deirdre Curtin, Anne Davies, Gráinne de Búrca, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Timothy Endicott, Elizabeth Fisher, Mark Freedland, Carol Harlow, Jeff King, Miguel Maduro, Janet Mclean, Joana Mendes, Richard Rawlings, Sir Philip Sales LJ, Cheryl Saunders, Neil Walker, Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston, Neil Walker, and Alison Young. The after dinner speech was given by Sir Stephen Sedley.

The conference was attended by over 120 people and the conference structure was designed to maximise discussion through the two days. And that it did. Debate and analysis ranged across a range of topics including the rise of algorithmic public decision-making, delegated legislation, the challenges of multi-linguistic law-making, the nature of case law, the essence of the administrative state, and the future of constitutionalism. The papers from the conference will be published by OUP.  Further details about the project can be found here.

The conference was generously supported by a British Academy Small Grant, Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government, and the Oxford Law Faculty Research Support Fund.