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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Osgoode Society thanks its patrons

The Osgoode Society held its annual patrons' dinner yesterday in the Benchers' dining room at Osgoode Hall, under the auspices of the Law Society of Upper Canada.  
Our principal patron is the Law Foundation of Ontario, which provides crucial support for our work. We are also fortunate to have the patronage of a number of law firms. We are very grateful to all our patrons. We also thank the Law Society for its hospitality and sponsorship since the commencement of the society in 1979. 
If your firm is interested in becoming a patron, please contact the Society or the director in charge of our patrons programme, David Chernos, at

In alphabetic order, our thanks to:

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Case Papers Symposium

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Case Papers Symposium

(h/t David Sugarman)

Friday 13 May

The IALS holds an important collection of documents from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) and has been working on a project to improve the discoverability, visibility and utility of the documents. 

This symposium brings together a group of distinguished experts to disseminate and discuss their work on JCPC cases, which include: personalities  in the JCPC; experimentation in the Privy Council; the JCPC as the final court of ecclesiastical appeal; Palestine and the JCPC; the impact of the JCPC on constitutional developments and common law around the world; and new open access JCPC research resources.
The symposium is organised collaboratively by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the Forum for Legal and Historical Research at the University of Reading and the London Legal History Seminar and is aimed at academic researchers and practitioners in law, history and Commonwealth development.

For more information:

Monday, April 4, 2016

Peter Oliver prize for published student work in Canadian Legal History, deadline Apr. 30

Peter Oliver Prize in Canadian Legal History

The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History invites nominations for the Peter Oliver Prize in Canadian Legal History. The prize, named for Professor Peter Oliver, the Society’s founding editor-in-chief,  is awarded annually for published work (journal article, book chapter, book) in Canadian legal history written by a student. Students in any discipline at any stage of their careers are eligible. The Society takes a broad view of legal history, one that includes work in socio-legal history, legal culture, etc., as well as work on the history of legal institutions, legal personnel, and substantive law.

Faculty members are encouraged to nominate student work of which they are aware, and the Society will also be pleased to accept self-nominations.  The deadline for nominations for the 2016 Prize, to be awarded for work published in 2015, is April 30, 2016.

Please send nominations and an electronic version of the nominated work to Professor Philip Girard, Associate Editor, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History by email to

Friday, April 1, 2016

Time to register for Symposium in honour of Doug Hay

In case anyone missed this notice, the registration for the symposium Law/Authority/History: honouring the voice of Douglas Hay, to be held at York University May 5-6, 2016, is now open.

Registration is free, but you should RSVP at

For those few who don't know Doug and his work, here's the explanation for the symposium:

From his path-breaking essay on capital punishment in Albion’s Fatal Tree to his more recent work on low law and the regulation of labour, Douglas Hay’s writing has inspired historians and legal scholars around the world for over forty years. While his primary focus has been on eighteenth-century English law and society, Doug has also contributed to Canadian legal history through his work on the reception and administration of the criminal law in Quebec following the transition to British rule. This symposium, co-organized by Doug’s colleagues in York History, Osgoode Hall Law School, and others across Canada, is an occasion for his Canadian friends and colleagues to honour his recent retirement and to celebrate his enormous contributions to scholarship.
The Symposium is open to anybody interested in legal history (all jurisdictions), law and society, and related fields.

Cross-Country Book Launch for Wes Pue, Lawyers' Empire: Legal Professionals and Cultural Authority, 1780-1950

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending an unusual cross-country book launch. Everyone in the legal history business in Canada seems to know, like and admire Wes Pue, currently of the Allard School of Law at UBC, as do many around the world. His scholarship over the last three decades, in particular his work on the history of the legal professions, has been a key contribution to the field. Wes has also made his mark by his promotion of sociolegal research in Canada, particularly by helping create the very successful UBC Press Law and Society Series.

As part of this series, UBC Press has just published a collection of Wes's articles on the subject of the legal profession, Lawyers' Empire: Legal Professionals and Cultural Authority, 1780-1950.  

His many friends and fans took the opportunity presented by the publication to celebrate Wes, his collegiality, mentorship, and many accomplishments by organizing a book launch, based in Vancouver but with attendance and speakers from Toronto, Montreal and Calgary by videos and live videolinks as well as participation by emails from Australia, the UK and the US.

Lawyers' Empire is a wonderful collection, providing convenient access to Wes's work on the profession for scholars. It will also provide a terrific resource for students. The history of the profession is a non-intimidating entry point for legal history neophytes, and the decision to publish these articles in one, accessible place was an excellent one.

Also inspired was the idea (credit to Doug Harris and a team of luminaries too long to list here) to use the occasion of the book's publication to pay tribute to the author. Bravo to all, and thanks to Wes himself for being the reason.

Here's the blurb for the book:

Approaching the legal profession through the lens of cultural history, Wes Pue explores the social roles that lawyers imagined for themselves in England and its empire from the late-eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Each chapter focuses on a moment when lawyers sought to reshape their profession while at the same time imagining they were shaping nation and empire in the process. As an exploration of the relationship between legal professionals and liberalism, this book draws attention to recurrent tensions in between how lawyers have best assured their own economic well-being while simultaneously advancing the causes of liberty, cultural authority, stability, and continuity.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Electronic submission available, and deadline extension: 2016 ASLH Annual Meeting Call for Proposals

(via Joanna Grisinger)

American Society for Legal History 
2016 Annual Meeting Call for Proposals

The American Society for Legal History is happy to announce a new electronic submission system for proposals for the 2016 Annual Conference in Toronto. You can access the system here.  All proposals should be submitted through this site.  Those who have already submitted via email will be contacted and asked to resubmit via the electronic submission system.  To account for any transition glitches, the deadline for submissions is extended to April 1, 2016.

The system is quite user friendly, and the materials are the same as under the old system: a short abstract for the proposal, individual abstracts for paper panels, and cvs for all presenters.   One individual (not necessarily a presenter, and likely the person submitting the proposal) will have to be designated the “organizer” of the session.   Please note that individuals may serve in more than one capacity: a chair may also be a commentator, for example, or an organizer may also be a presenter.

Thursday, March 24, 2016






May 16-18, 2017

Montréal, Québec

The year 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. The passage of the
Constitution Act (1867) opened a new chapter in the history of the Canadian people, providing them
with a measure of self-determination that has served as a model of effective and stable government
for more than a century and a half. Although the road has not been without obstacles and some
turbulence, Canada’s progress from a loose association of provinces governed by London to a nation
that extends A Mari Usque Ad Mare — or more properly, “from sea to sea to sea,” — has served as
an inspiration to movements for democratic reform throughout the world.

This conference will bring together scholars from around Canada, the Commonwealth, and the world
to explore the origins, present state, and future prospects of the Canadian constitutional settlement.
Experts in law, history, politics, and economics will present papers on the history of the
Confederation settlement, the role of Québec, the development of human rights and the Charter,
federalism, parliamentary sovereignty, judicial review, private law in a federal system, as well as the
role of Canada in the Commonwealth.

We are currently seeking proposals for papers or full panels relating (but not limited) to the
following areas:

The Background and Origins of the Constitution Act 1867

The history of the constitutional settlement. People and events. London, Ottawa and Charlottetown.
Imperial imperatives. The Canadian People: French, English and First Nations and their reactions
or role in the process. Elites and commoners.

The Structure of Confederation

Necessary compromises. Language and culture. The Anglo-American tradition. Federalism. The
Provinces. Sections 92, 92A, 93.

Parliament Supremacy.

Prime Minister or President? The Senate. The House. The Westminster system in the Canadian context.

The Judiciary

The “Living Tree.” PrivyCouncil to Canadian Supreme Court. Judicial review. Role of the Courts
of Appeals.


Role in Confederation (1867). Independence. Civil law system and influence on English Canada.

The First Nations

The Crown and the First Nations. The duty to consult. Grassy Narrows. Tsilhqot'in Nation. Self-
government. The Indian Act.

The Charter of Rights

Bill of Rights to Charter. International Law and the Charter. The Charter and private law.
Provincial human rights codes.

Private Law in the Canadian Context

English precedent. International influences. Civil andCommonLawcross-fertilisation. Uniformity.

The Administrative State

Reasonableness, fairness and correctness. Judicial review. Dunsmuir. Baker.

Aspects of Law

Criminal. Immigration. Procedure.

Commerce and Trade

A national Canadian securities law? Commercial regulation. Companies. Securities. Fiduciary

Canada, the Commonwealth and the World

How has Canada influenced and been influenced by the world around us? “Soft power”.Diplomacy. Human rights. Peace-keepers or warriors? Old alliances and new. France and Québec.
Englishmen at home and in North America. Our American cousins.

The Future

Wither Confederation? Proposals for reform?

We seek presentations from both established and new scholars. Perspectives from Québec and the First Nations are especially welcome. Presentations may be made in both official languages.

For more information or to discuss a panel or proposal, please do not hesitate to contact:

Professor Matthew P Harrington