Every month, in a relaxed location in central London the London Legal Salon will meet to discuss the big questions facing the law today. Attendance is always free. This blog will publish articles by attendees and the organisers to supplement the debates at our monthly meetings.







Every meeting will be introduced by a short talk from a lawyer or commentator in the area under examination. The discussion will then be opened to those attending to make contributions or ask questions. The meetings will last around ninety minutes and operate under Chatham House rules.







The discussions and the articles on this website will look to scrutinise the black letter of the law and its implications in the Courts and wider society. They will also look to situate the law in its historical and political context. We hope that by developing an understanding of where the law has come from, and why the law has taken the form it has today, we may begin to form an idea of where we want it to go.







Saturday, 14 June 2014

Are we all legal positivists now?

The next meeting of the London Legal Salon will be on Thursday the 17th of July at 1930.  The venue will be the Perseverance pub in Holborn http://www.the-perseverance.moonfruit.com/

To book a place and to receive the readings please email londonlegalsalon@gmail.com.

The question of the connection between the law and morality is central to the history of legal philosophy. The debate, which has lasted from Ancient Greece to the present day, has been dominated by two broad categories of theory: natural law theory and legal positivism. Classical natural law theorists like Aristotle argued that laws were necessarily connected to man’s moral life, and had as their aim some higher moral – or divine – framework. Legal positivists, whose arguments dominated the 20th Century, argued that natural law theory confused the issue of what the law is and what it ought to be, and that laws could have authority irrespective of whether or not they were ‘good’.

Today, lawyers and Judges tend to think of their role as entirely morally neutral. The idea that the law should reflect, in some way, public morality seems a bit outdated. Why is this? Is it simply because natural law theory has been convincingly defeated? Perhaps the triumph of legal positivism reflects a collapse of moral consensus in wider society? Is there anything from natural law theory worth saving?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Consumer Rights Bill: The Death of Contract? 18th February 2014 at the Old Bank of England

The London Legal Salon will return to the Old Bank of England (http://oldbankofengland.co.uk/) on Tuesday the 18th of February at 1930. 

Daniel Lloyd, Head of Consumer Law at BT, will introduce a discussion on the Consumer Rights Bill.  A short introduction is below.

Please RSVP to Londonlegalsalon@gmail.com if you would like to attend.

We look forward to seeing you all,

The London Legal Salon 

The Consumer Rights Bill:  The Death of Contract?

The Consumer Rights Bill,  introduced in the Queen’s Speech last year,  was described by the government as the ‘most radical overhaul of consumer law in three decades’.  It purports to clarify and streamline previous legislation governing the law of contract whilst granting new rights to consumers in their relationship with businesses. In June 2014 the new Distance Selling Regulations come into force. Later in the year the Government aim to introduce, for the first time, private rights of enforcement under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs).    

What does this overhaul of consumer law say about the role of law in regulating the changing relationship between businesses and consumers?  Are new consumer rights always a good thing,  and  what do they say about they way we view the public?  

The London Legal Salon welcomes Daniel Lloyd,  Head of Consumer law at BT, to discuss the legal and political context of the Consumer Rights Bill, the CPRs and the DSRs and what it means for the relationship between consumers and business.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Rape Myths


The London Legal Salon returns at 1930 on the 8th of May 2013 to the Hoop and Grapes Pub on Farringdon Street.  The topic of the discussion is a new paper by Helen Reece of the London School of Economics titled:  ‘Rape Myths:  Is Elite Opinion Right and Public Opinion Wrong?’

 

Many have argued that reform around Rape law has failed.  Either it has failed to raise the conviction rate,  or worse,  it has failed to instil confidence in victims of rape that the state can prosecute these crimes effectively.  Many attribute the lack in any rise in rape convictions to ‘myths’ around rape.  It is said that the erroneous beliefs of rape complainants and those involved in prosecuting and trying rape cases are to blame for the lack of any increase in people being found guilty. 

 

In her new paper,  Dr Helen Reece of the London School of Economics argues that the repressiveness of current attitudes towards rape has been largely overstated,  and that such ‘rape myths’ are not to blame for the steady conviction rate.  Are misconceptions about rape leading to miscarriages of justice?  Should we be doing more to ensure convictions?  Or is there another explanation for why more and more people are reporting rape,  whilst roughly the same number year on year are being convicted?

 

Join the London Legal Salon at the Hoop and Grapes Public House on Farringdon Street to discuss Rape Myths on Wednesday the 8th of May 2013 at 1930.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Are The Dead Entitled to the Presumption of Innocence? 14th November 2012 at the Old Bank Of England




On Wednesday the 14th of November 2012 the London Legal Salon will host a public debate on the Jimmy Savile allegations.  We will be meeting at the Old Bank of England Public House on Fleet Street at 1930 on the 14th of November 2012.
 
Recent allegations of sexual abuse levelled against the late TV presenter Jimmy Savile have caused uproar. Bigwigs at the BBC anticipate a full inquiry. With more and more retrospective accusers coming forward, and apparent evidence of cover ups within the BBC, many think the allegations against Saville are symptomatic of a sexual abuse ‘culture’ which has permeated the institution since the 1960s.

The papers seem convinced of his guilt. Articles around the case speak of ‘overwhelming evidence’ of ‘appalling abuse’. Charities who have named trusts after him are considering donating all the money held to victims of abuse and abandoning their association with the cigar touting oddball. There can be little doubt that Jimmy Savile’s reputation as a philanthropic British institution lies in tatters.

But what does this say about society’s attitude towards the presumption of innocence? Do all the rules cease to apply once an accused has passed away? Should we really be dragging up allegations against a person who cannot defend themselves? Does the manner in which Savile has been discussed betray something deeper about our attitudes to innocence?

Email londonlegalsalon@gmail.com to reserve a space in the debate.

Speaker: Tim Black, senior writer at Spiked Online
 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Should gay people be allowed to marry?

At 1930 on the 26th of June 2012 at the Old Bank Of England on Fleet Street,  the London Legal Salon will meet to discuss gay marriage. 
 
Over recent months, everyone seems to be coming out in favour of gay marriage. From George Clooney to David Cameron, Kim Kardashian to Lady Gaga, support for gay marriage has clearly become the progressive cause of the moment. But opinion remains divided. A government consultation on marriage reform launched earlier this year, which would have allowed for gay marriages in restricted circumstances, split the coalition with David Cameron eventually allowing a free vote on the issue.

Some argue that the current ban on gay marriage is fundamentally a question of equality, akin to women having the vote or rights for ethnic minorities. After all, how can it be right in a liberal society for a group of people to be prevented from taking part in an ancient social institution because of their sexuality? However, others have expressed concerns that allowing gay marriage would devalue marriage as a social institution which has traditionally been associated with procreation. The state’s tinkering with these institutions should be open to scrutiny and critique, especially as there seems to be little public appetite to allow gays to marry.

Would allowing gay marriage devalue traditional marriage? If so, is this a problem? Are those who argue against gay marriage simply homophobes and backwards conservatives? What impact should changing attitudes have on our social institutions and how should the law react?

Email lonlegalsalon@gmail.com to reserve your place.

SPEAKER: Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked Online.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Thank you

Thanks to all who attended the London Legal Salon discussion on Free Speech at Football.  Those interested in follow up reading may be interested in a new report from Civil Liberties group the Manifesto Club on 'Bubble Matches'.  View the report here:  http://www.manifestoclub.com/bubblematchreport

Details of our next discussion will follow shortly.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

8th of May 2012 at 1930: Who is singing anymore? Is the law strangling free speech at football?

On the 8th of May 2012 the London Legal Salon will meet back at the Hoop and Grapes on Farringdon Street to discuss free speech at football.

Up and down the United Kingdom, the law is creeping onto the terraces.  Earlier this month Liam Stacey, a student from South Wales, was jailed for ‘tweeting’ mocking remarks about Bolton Football Club’s Farbrice Muamba whilst he suffered a heart attack during a game.   In Scotland, new criminal offences, contained in the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012, mean that Scottish football fans could be arrested for crossing themselves or for singing the wrong song.  In England, high profile prosecutions of players for the use of racist language on the pitch has led David Cameron to pledge in the course of a government Anti Racism summit in February that he would ‘crush’ racism out of football.  His language suggests that upcoming reforms of English laws could follow the Scottish model.

Proponents of the Scottish law and supporters of reform in England argue that racist and sectarian behaviour at football matches creates a climate of acceptability of such behaviour off the pitch. But critics argue that regulation not only threatens to stifle the atmosphere at matches, but also sets a dangerous precedent for the regulation of free speech in wider society.

Should we use the law to crack down on offensive speech at football matches? Or should we let what’s said in the ground stay in the ground? What does the regulation of speech at matches suggest about our approach to free speech in wider society?
Speakers: 

Kevin Rooney,  Free Spech campaigner and teacher at Queen's School
Dan Jones, Journalist at the Evening Standard