Thursday, December 22, 2016

Two by Mohr on the British Imperial Constitution

Thomas Mohr Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin, has posted two papers.  The first is The Privy Council Appeal and British Imperial Policy, 1833-1939:
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was the final appellate court of almost all of the British Empire. The institution of the Privy Council appeal was perceived as an important instrument of British Imperial policy in a number of important areas. It was often perceived as a vital pillar of Imperial unity. This court was also promoted as the overseer of federal and devolved settlements within the component parts of the Empire. The appeal was also seen as providing a necessary form of economic oversight that guaranteed British investment in the colonies and self-governing Dominions. Finally, by the early 20th century the appeal was promoted as a means of protecting the rights of vulnerable minorities within the component parts of the Empire. This article examines the role of this court in these key areas of Imperial policy and their impact on popular perceptions of the Privy Council appeal.
The second is The Irish Question and the Evolution of British Imperial Law, 1916-1922:
By the early twentieth century Dominion status seemed ideally suited as the answer to the perennial ‘Irish question’. It offered Ireland a generous measure of autonomy while maintaining the territorial integrity of the British Empire. Nevertheless, the prospect of granting Dominion status to Ireland remained little more than a fantasy on the eve of the outbreak of the First World War. This reality was altered by two parallel historical developments. The first of these was the 1916 Easter rising that killed any possibility of an effective home rule settlement for the entire island of Ireland. The second was a rapid acceleration in the evolution of the self-governing Dominions of the Empire towards greater autonomy in the constitutional sphere. In the aftermath of the First World War these two developments came together in the signing of the 1921 Treaty that permitted the Irish Free State to emerge with the status of a self-governing Dominion, the same constitutional status held by Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. This article will examine the legal and constitutional developments that took place between 1914 and 1922 that removed the possibility of an ‘Irish Dominion’ from the realms of fantasy and allowed it to play a vital role in the emergence of the self-governing Irish state. It also examines the important role of Hessel Duncan Hall’s book The British Commonwealth of Nations (1920) in influencing this process.