Monday, December 17, 2018

ASLH Sutherland Prize to Lambert

Via the American Society for Legal History, we have the formal citation for this year's Sutherland Prize, which the Society awarded to Tom Lambert (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University): 
The Sutherland Prize, named in honor of the late Donald W. Sutherland, a distinguished historian of the law of medieval England and a mentor of many students, is awarded annually, on the recommendation of the Sutherland Prize Committee, to the person or persons who wrote the best article on English legal history published in the previous year. 
2018 recipient: Tom Lambert, “Jurisdiction as Property in England, 900-1100” in Legalism: Property and Ownership, edited by Georgy Kantor, Tom Lambert, and Hannah Skoda (Oxford University Press, 2017). 
Committee citation: The Sutherland Prize for 2017 is awarded for a piece addressing the issue of jurisdictional rights in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Such rights enabled their holders not merely to receive the revenues associated with a particular offence but also to hold courts and enforce the law in pursuance of such rights. Two separate views are identified within the current historiographical debate about the existence and extent of such rights. The first assumed that an entitlement to legal revenues brought with it an entitlement to perform legal functions as well. The second took the view that aristocratic legal privileges were fiscal rather than jurisdictional. Both, the author notes, are premised on certain assumptions about the chronology of feudalization. The author adopts an alternative approach, contending that ‘the absence of explicit evidence for aristocratic possession of jurisdictional rights before the Norman conquest … should be taken as a sign that jurisdictional rights did not exist as things to be possessed or transferred.’ This, he notes, moves the focus away from feudalization to the issue of when jurisdictional rights emerged as a form of property. The article goes on to discuss the absence of jurisdictional rights in the tenth century, arguing that this was because ‘the performance of functions relating to both judicial decision-making and law enforcement was theoretically open to all’ and given its demanding and sometimes dangerous nature was ‘understood to be more of a burden than a privilege.’ Matters changed in the eleventh century, it is suggested, because of economic incentives, with greater competition for legal revenues leading to the performance of the associated legal functions being perceived as a more desirable task. The result, as the author concludes, was that ‘[g]radually and unevenly – and perhaps initially not very legalistically – jurisdictional rights were probably emerging as a form of property in the decades before the Norman conquest.’
The members of this year's Sutherland Prize Committee were Rebecca Probert (University of Exeter) (chair); Paul Halliday (University of Virginia); Allyson May (University of Western Ontario); and  P.G. McHugh (University of Cambridge).

Congratulations to Dr. Lambert!

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