The Misrule of Law

What is the “rule of law”? It is an idea which has been much discussed but in summary it may be described as a concept embracing the bedrock of a type of human society: one involving a set of clearly articulated rules, created by a freely elected parliament and/or independent judiciary, which regulate human behaviours and which are administered fairly by that judiciary free of any interference, such that every person enjoys equal treatment under them and equal access to them.

Anybody living in Britain now would be likely to say that that idea is an obvious precondition to a civilised society and the minimum they expect from their own society. The rule of law is treated as part of the natural order of things rather than something which has had to be strived for: however little we actively think about the rule of law in our daily lives it is a given in our decision-making and our sense of our relationship with the state.

But the rule of law is a fragile concept, which has been arrived at after centuries of historical struggle, requiring constant nurturing and protection. In this series of three lectures I will show how the rule of law can be subverted, and the law abused, to further the aims of privileged elites.

In this series