Monday, February 2, 2015

Seipp to Deliver Oxford's Youard Lecture in Legal History

We’ve learned that David J. Seipp, Professor of Law and Law Alumni Scholar at the Boston University School of Law, will deliver the Youard Lecture in Legal History 2015 at Oxford University, on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 5:30 pm, at “The Cube” of the Oxford Law Faculty.  Professor Seipp’s topic will be When Lawyers Lie: Forging an English Constitution in 1399:
The first Year Book case of the reign of Henry IV was a lie. It was the trial of an earl for treason before the steward and the lords, but the trial in question never occurred and the earl in question was beheaded in a castle courtyard without benefit of legal proceedings.  In 1907 L.W. Vernon Harcourt condemned this 1399 Year Book case as a Tudor forgery, and T.F.T. Plucknett and A.W.B. Simpson have concurred that it is a later forgery inserted into the reports of 1399. Professor Seipp argues that the case was fabricated by the lawyers of 1399 as a report of what should have happened. Trials of earls who challenged the king were something that should be subject to orderly proceedings, but not in the ordinary courts of law. Decision by a majority of peers, unsworn and voting their individual consciences, was enough to separate these political trials from the work of the ordinary courts and to save judges and lawyers from having to take sides in these times of dynastic rivalries.
Previous Youard Lectures have been delivered by Reinhard Zimmermann (Max Planck Institute), David Ibbetson (Cambridge), Bill Nelson (N.Y.U.), Catharine MacMillan (Queen Mary College London), Douglas Hay (Osgoode Hall York U.), Michael Lobban (London School of Economics), and others.  For more information please contact: Joshua Getzler.