Professor Paul Brand talk

Professor Paul Brand talk: The First Century of Magna Carta and the Law:
the diffusion of texts of Magna Carta and their use and citation
by litigants, lawyers and justices, 12:15-13:15pm

21st May 6pm-7pm

The University of Auckland Faculty of Law hosted Professor Paul Brand, legal historian from All Souls College, Oxford to talk about the Magna Carta. Having published such books as Kings, Barons and Justices: The Making and Enforcement of Legislation in Thirteenth-Century England, Professor Brand has a deep knowledge of the Magna Carta. As a result the talk was insightful. The talk was held in the Law Faculty, Stone Lecture Theatre, Level 3,
Faculty of Law, 9 Eden Crescent. Check out the poster here: Professor Brand Flyer.

Review of Professor Paul Brand’s Magna Carta Lecture – by Tracey Thomas, Subject Librarian, Law, Davis Law Library, The University of Auckland Library

On Thursday 21 May 2015 the University of Auckland Faculty of Law and the New Zealand Law Foundation hosted a public lecture by Professor Paul Brand, a distinguished scholar of medieval legal history from the University of Oxford. This was one of the first public lecture events planned by the Magna Carta 800 Committee for New Zealand to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Professor David V Williams provided the highlights of Professor Paul Brand’s prestigious legal history career and publishing achievements working with medieval legal records.

The event was well attended by members of the legal profession, judiciary, academic staff and students from law, history and politics.

The lecture began with an overview of the historic background to the first 1215 Charter of Liberties document granted by King John, which later became known as the Magna Carta. These liberties provided specific privileges to all free men of his kingdom, with specific provision for widows and restrictions on the activities of barons. Details of the later reissues of the Magna Carta in 1216, 1217 and 1225 highlighted the amendments and additional chapters added.

Of the thirteen copies circulated to the Bishops in 1215, only four original copies of the Magna Carta survive. These four original copies were bought together at the British Library for the first time in 2015 as part of the 800 year anniversary celebrations in the United Kingdom. Years of legal scholarly analysis was summarized into an overview of the differences between the original copies, the later reissued Magna Carta, and the copies included within the earliest legal commentaries. The lecture also highlighted the early uses of the Magna Carta by medieval lawyers and litigants in support of their legal arguments in court records.

The 800 year survival of this foundational document of the English common law system deserves to be celebrated throughout the Commonwealth. New Zealand retains the due process chapter of the 1215 Magna Carta as part of the current law in force, and this provides a historic reference to the origins of the principles of rule of law. The opportunity to hear one of the leading experts in Magna Carta legal history during this year of worldwide celebration was a fantastic start to the New Zealand series of celebratory events.

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