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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Osgoode Society launches four books

Yesterday evening the Osgoode Society launched its four books for 2011.  The reception was addressed by R. Roy McMurtry, the society's founder and current president, Jim Phillips, society editor-in-chief and the four authors.

The 2011 'member's book' (included with the $45 annual membership) is "The Lazier Murder: Prince Edward County, 1884" by Mr. Justice Robert J. Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal.  The book is a case study of a notorious but legally insigificant murder trial in rural Ontario, the impact of the murder on the community, the impact of the community on the investigation and judicial process, and the lasting effects of these events on local culture.

The 'optional extras' for the year are:
"Lawyers and Legal Culture in British North America: Beamish Murdoch of Halifax" by Professor Philip Girard of the Schulich Law School, Dalhousie University;

Westward Bound: Sex Violence, the Law and the Making of a Settler Society by Professor Lesley Erickson of the Department of History, University of Calgary;

and hot off the presses, "Dewigged, Bothered & Bewildered: British Colonial Judges on Trial, 1800-1900", a collection of case studies of Judges whose behaviour and activites landed them in hot water across the British Empire, by John McLaren, Emeritus Professor, University of Victoria Faculty of Law.

For more information on membership in the Osgoode Society or to inquire about purchasing any or all of these books, please contact Marilyn MacFarlane, society administrator at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Legal History Panels for CLSA 2012

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST: Legal History Panels for CLSA 2012 / DÉCLARATIONS D’INTÉRÊT: Sessions de l’histoire et du droit 2012

The 2012 Canadian Law and Society Association meeting, to be held on 27-29 May, will overlap with the meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, to be held 28-30 May. Both meetings will be part of Congress 2012, to be hosted by the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. Although the theme for the general CLSA program has not been set and the call for papers has not yet been issued, it seems like a good opportunity to create some bridges between these two associations. There may be a possibility of arranging the CLSA programme on 27 May so as to make it easier for those planning to attend the CHA meeting to participate in the CLSA meeting as well. It also might be possible to offer sessions co-hosted by the two associations.
The CHA recently called for papers with a deadline of 19 October. It has been CLSA’s practice not to require paper proposals until the end of January, when the CHA’s program will already be fixed. Given this situation, it would be very helpful if those who are contemplating submitting legal history proposals to the CLSA meeting were to send early expressions of interest, so that we can try to coordinate the two programmes. Therefore, if you are interested in a) submitting a legal history paper or a full panel to the CLSA meeting; or b) participating in a session co-hosted by CLSA and CHA (which might occur any time between 27 and 30 May), would you please advise the CLSA’s programme coordinator of your intentions before 31 October. Please do indicate as well whether you plan to attend the CLSA meeting, the CHA meeting, or both.
Again, to be clear, this is a call for expressions of interest in finding some points for connection between the CLSA annual meeting program and the CHA's annual meeting.  The call for papers for the CLSA annual meeting will appear in November.
The CLSA’s programme coordinator for 2012 is [legal historian] Lyndsay Campbell (University of Calgary), who may be reached at or 403.220.8889.


La conférence annuelle de l’Association canadienne droit et société (ACDS) aura lieu à l’Université de Waterloo et l’Université Wilfred Laurier les 27 au 29 mai  2012.  Cette année, il y aura un chevauchement entre cette conférence et celle de la Société historique du Canada (SHC).   Le thème du programme n’ayant pas encore été déterminé et l’appel à communication n’a pas encore été circuler.  Nous le considérons donc cette conférence comme un moment propice de créer des liens entre ces deux organismes.  Ce serait possible, par exemple, d’organiser une journée ou une série de sessions consacrée au ‘droit et histoire.’ Ceci permettrait aux participants et participantes des deux organisations d’assister toutes les sessions qui s’adressent aux chercheur-E-s qui travaillent à l’intersection du droit et de l’histoire.
Noter, svp, que ce n’est qu’une demande de déclaration d’intérêt pour forger des ponts entre l’ACDS et la SHC durant leurs réunions annuelles respectives.
L’appel à communication générale pour l’ACDS sera circulé d’ici la mi-novembre.
En bref (1) si vous croyez soumettre à l’ACDS une proposition individuelle ou un panel entier, qui se situe aux points de rencontre de l’histoire et du droit, ou (2) si vous aimeriez participer aux sessions de l’ACDS et de la SHC comme hôtes conjoints (qui se dérouleront entre le 27 et le 30 mai), veuillez, svp, aviser Lyndsay Campbell  (University of Calgary) au < ou au 403.220.8889.   En effet, pour toutes questions concernant les réunions de l’ACDS, veuillez contacter Lyndsay, qui est la coordonnatrice du programme cette année.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Toronto Legal History Group Winter/Spring Schedule

The schedule for next term's legal history group presentations was sent out today:
January 11 - Paul Craven, York University: "Low Crimes and Misdemeanours."
January 25 - Marisha Caswell, Queen's University: "Married Women and the Criminal Law in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century England"
February 1- Douglas Hay, York University: "The Misdemeanour/Felony Distinction in the 18th and 19th centuries."
February 15 - Jed Shugerman, Harvard University: "The Origins of the US Department of Justice"
February 29 - Li Chen, University of Toronto: "Legal Knowledge and Justice in Late Imperial China, 1651-1911
March 14 - Coel Kirkby, Cambridge University: "The Imperial Origins of the Canadian Constitution."
March 28 - Michael Kogan, University of Toronto: "Soviet Legal Professionals and the Administration of Justice, 1945-1953".
April 11 - Jeff McNairn, Queen's University: "A Just and Obvious Distinction: The Meaning of Imprisonment for Debt and the Criminal Law in Upper Canada's Age of Reform"
Meetings take place in Flavelle House, U of T (Museum subway stop), at 6:30 p.m. If you aren't on the distribution list and would like to be, please email

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Canada Gazette (1841-1997) searchable online

Catching up with Slaw (Canada's award winning online legal magazine) today, I noticed this blog post of interest to legal (and other) historians who may have missed the LAC announcement. Thanks, Simon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Smith on North-West Transportation Co. v. Beatty (1887)

McGill/Oxford Equity guru Lionel Smith has posted "A Selfish Loyalty: North-West Transportation Co. Ltd v. Beatty" on SSRN. The essay will be published in Landmark Cases in Equity, C. Mitchell and P. Mitchell, eds., Oxford: Hart, 2012.

Here's the abstract:

North-West Transportation Co. Ltd. v. Beatty (1887), 12 App. Cas. 589 (P.C.) is well known throughout the Commonwealth as a foundational decision regarding the ability of corporate directors to contract with their own corporation, and in particular their ability to vote as shareholders for the approval of such conflict-affected contracts. The background to the case reveals a young nation in which enormous numbers of immigrants were seeking to start new lives on the western prairies. Before the trans-Canada railroad was completed in 1885, and long before a full road network was in place, shipping lines on the Great Lakes provided the only feasible way to reach the continental interior (the “North-West”).
The dispute in Beatty was about a contract by which one of the directors of a company, who was also its majority shareholder, sold a steamship to the company over the objections of minority shareholders. In giving its advice, the Privy Council arguably misunderstood the nature of the corporate entity involved in the case, and produced a solution that has puzzled and divided commentators and legislators ever since.
This paper traces the story of the Beattys and their influence in late-19th century Canada, and examines how the dispute arose and how it was resolved by four levels of courts. It goes on to assess the decision against the principles of corporate and fiduciary law, and to show how Canadian legislators have reacted against the Privy Council's decision with the result that in modern Canadian law, shareholder approval is often necessary for certain corporate decisions, but it is never sufficient to insulate such decisions from judicial review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Foster on Appeals and the B.C. Court of Appeal

Hamar Foster of the University of Victoria Faculty of Law has posted "Appeals and the British Columbia Court of Appeal" on SSRN. This "short essay on the history and procedures of the British Columbia Court of Appeal on the occasion of its 100th anniversary" appears in print in volume 68 of The Advocate (2010) at pp. 821-839.

Osgoode Society Announcement

The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History is pleased to announce the appointment of Philip Girard of the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University as associate editor, a new position with the Society. Professor Girard, who is currently a visiting professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, will work with editor-in-chief Jim Phillips in the production of Osgoode Society publications.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fadel posts review essay on Hallaq on Islamic Law

In the latest edition of the Legal History E-Journal, links to a review essay by Mohammad Fadel of the U of T Faculty of Law. The essay will also appear in the Journal of the American Oriental Society (also available online at, but you can also download it from SSRN. The abstract does not make the historical aspect of the piece explicit, but I would think that calling something 'anti-modernist' probably includes 'non-historicized' (as a lesser included offence.)

Here's the abstract:

It has been almost 50 years since Joseph Schacht and Noel Coulson published their respective introductions to Islamic law. Both works have served as standard introductions to Islamic law to countless students ever since. The last generation of Islamic law scholarship, however, beginning in the 1980s, has produced a body of research that systematically surpassed the contents of both these books without, however, producing a new introductory survey to the topic. This gap in scholarship left the teacher of Islamic law in somewhat of a bind: the most accessible introductions to his subject did not reflect the current state of research, but current scholarship had not produced a suitable work that could replace either Coulson or Schacht. Wael Hallaq, in his work, "Shari'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations," attempts to fill this gap in the literature. This review essay argues that Shari'a does its job admirably, and will undoubtedly succeed as a worthy replacement for the earlier, but now largely superseded, works of Schacht and Coulson. Nevertheless, this review essay also argues that the book will also prove to be very controversial, given what appears to be its polemical, and in many cases, overtly anti-modernist tone. In particular, this review essays argues that Hallaq's work suffers from a systematic failure to provide a normative account of the political from an Islamic perspective and the normative relationship of Islamic law to politics. As a result of this absence, the case he presents for his principal thesis, that modern Islamic law is essentially illegitimate if not an outright oxymoron, is ultimately unpersuasive, and risks reinforcing already well-entrenched western stereotypes about Islam, Muslims and Islamic law