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The Publius Paradox

At the Philadelphia convention assembled to draft a new Constitution, Alexander Hamilton argued ‘[e]stablish a weak government and you must at times overleap the bounds. Rome was obliged to create dictators’. Publius then expands upon this argument in several ways in the Federalist. I suggest that Publius identifies a dynamic or mechanism, the ‘Publius Paradox’, that warrants great attention: under particular conditions, excessive weakness of government may become excessive strength.

Adrian Vermeule


The End of Innocence: Open Justice, Free Speech and Privacy in the Modern Constitution – Khuja (formerly PNM) v Times Newspapers Limited

This case note explores the issue of open justice considered by Khuja (formerly PNM) v Times Newspapers Limited in the Supreme Court and argues that the current law is confused and incoherent. Far from settling the debate, it is suggested that the decision further undermines some of the key assumptions underpinning the current approach, especially in the light of the compelling and humane minority judgment.

Robert Craig

MLR Forum

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Responsibility and Reason-Responsiveness: Comments on John Gardner’s 2016 Chorley Lecture, ‘The Negligence Standard: Political, Not Metaphysical’, (2017) 80(1) MLR 1-21

Is it OK for the law to assign responsibilities to persons who lack the ability to respond to reasons? For John Gardner, the answer is 'normally, no'. Even when we do saddle those persons with responsibilities, we do so because we treat them, fictitiously, as if they are able to respond to reasons. Is that right?

Emmanuel Voyiakis

Hans Kelsen’s Judicial Decisionism versus Carl Schmitt’s Concept of the One ‘Right’ Judicial Decision: Comments on Stanley L Paulson, 'Metamorphosis in Hans Kelsen's Legal Philosophy' (2017) 80(5) MLR 860-894

Stanley Paulson's intriguing tracing of the developments of Hans Kelsen's work seems to maintain that Kelsen's decisionist stance of judicial decision-making was tamed by his constructivist 'Kantian' approach to law. While agreeing with Paulson’s jurisprudential analysis, a denial of the radicalism of Kelsen's decisionism often is the basis for the classic juxtaposition between his and Carl Schmitt's decisionist theory. But the opposite view is more appropriate: Schmitt's judge has much less room for individual political views than Kelsen's.

Jochen von Bernstorff

The Past and Future of the World’s Smallest Global Court: Comments on Tracy Robinson and Arif Bulkan, ‘Constitutional Comparisons by a Supranational Court in Flux: The Privy Council and Caribbean Bills of Rights’ (2017) 80(3) MLR 379–411

Robinson and Bulkan make a convincing case that the past and present of Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is of great concern for the future constitutional orders of the Caribbean, Commonwealth and United Kingdom. This note further explores the historical context to understand that future and its politics.

Coel Kirkby

A Time Traveller’s Guide to Law and Finance: Comments on Carsten Gerner-Beuerle, ‘Law and Finance in Emerging Economies: Germany and Britain 1800–1913’ (2017) 80(2) MLR 263–98

This comment connects Gerner-Beuerle's article on the evolution of company and securities law to the 'law and finance school', exploring the problems of original 'law and finance' research, Gerner-Beuerle's contribution in this direction, and suggesting how and why we may need a 'time traveller's guide' to law and finance.

Mathias Siems

Keeping It Real? Comments on Kimberlee Weatherall, ‘The Consumer as the Empirical Measure of Trade Mark Law’ (2017) 80(1) MLR 57-87

Professor Weatherall’s thought-provoking critique of the selective resistance to empiricism in trade mark law is a significant and welcome intervention. But the existence of certain structural features suggests that only a qualified turn to empiricism is possible, and the broader engagement between Law and Science holds other cautionary lessons.

Dev S Gangjee

MLR news

January Issue now online

The January Issue of the Modern Law Review is now available, with the 2018 Chorley Lecture, ‘The Publius Paradox’, articles covering concurrent liability and Euclidean contract theory, legislation notes on UK abortion law reforms since 2016 and homelessness reforms, case notes on free speech and the common intention constructive trust, a review essay on legal pluralism theory, and review of books on topics ranging from consumer redress laws to German public law to common law judicial review.

November Issue available now

The November Issue of the Modern Law Review is now available online, with articles examining sentencing guidelines on guilty pleas, an institutional turn for contract interpretation, British misunderstandings around sovereignty, notes evaluating the UK Modern Slavery Act and data privacy case law at the EU, and reviews of new books on topics ranging from contract damages to registered partnerships to the dialogue between history and law.

September Issue now online

The September Issue of the Modern Law Review is now available, with articles covering the imperial background to A V Dicey’s theory of the rule of law, a new theory of top-down constitutional conventions, and Ireland’s post-GFC supervised consumer bankruptcy reforms, a legislative note on recent changes to campus free speech laws, case notes dealing with gay rights in Hong Kong and minimum alcohol pricing in UK and EU courts, a review essay on Roger Cotterrell’s new book, and book reviews on environmental law and international legal history.

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