The Politics of the Common Law: Perspectives, Rights, Processes, Institutions By Adam Gearey, Wayne Morrison and Robert Jago

AuthorRichard Scragg
PositionTeaching Fellow, School of Law, University of Auckland
B A G, W M  R J,
R, L, ,  
R J S*
In 2009 Gearey, Morrison and Jago published a remarkable book, e
Politics of the Common Law. is year they have published a second edition,
in which they have rened their ideas f urther. is is a book of interest to
common law yers throughout the world .
e new edition is shorter than the rst, 362 pages compared with 416
originally, although at 17 chapters it contains one more than the original.
In terms of the authors rening their ideas, there has been much rewriting
and restructuring of material with chapters renamed accordingly, where
appropriate: chapter 6 in the original, ‘Racism and Law: “No Dogs, No Black s,
No Irish”’ has become chapter 5 in the second edition, ‘e postcolonial, the
visible and the invisible: the normal and the exceptional’.
e book is of particular interest to New Ze aland lawyers bec ause New
Zealand gures prominently in it. In addition, although it is an “English”
book it is about the common law and what it says about the common law
applies wherever the common law exists around the world. is reects t he
experience of the authors. Professor Gearey of Birkbeck College, University
of London, has also had visiting professorships in Uganda, South Africa
and Costa Rica a nd been a visiting fellow at the University of California,
Berkeley. Robert Jago is Deputy Head of Law at the University of Surrey
and teaches Public Law at Hong Kong University’s School of Professional
and Continuing Education. Wayne Morrison provides the New Zealand
connection. A University of Canterbury graduate, he is a Professor of Law
at Queen Mary, University of London and for many years was the Director
of the University of London’s International Programmes for Law, a position
which gave him teaching experience throughout the common law world.
Chapter 3 of the book, “As a system…the common law is a thing merely
imaginar y” begins in a lecture theatre at the University of Canterbury in
Christchurch in the 1970s.
e book is constructed around three t hemes. e rst is a concern with
legal culture in a context of a post-colonial world. e second concerns
the politics of the judiciary and the legitimacy of the common law. e
third “confronts the material realities of civil and criminal procedure”.
* Teaching Fellow, School of Law, Universit y of Auckland

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