In many ways, Law is an exact science. It contains thousands of precisely formulated rules and procedures that must be followed exactly in order for something to be legal. There are, though, many legal principles and ideas which are not precisely definable and about which even experts have different opinions.
Most people understandably associate Law with ideas like certainty and clarity. At the centre of the legal system, in the Law courts, certain important principles like ‘justice’ are commonly seen to play an absolutely critical role. However, even though these key principles are of elemental importance in the legal system, there are divergent views about what these things mean.
In these interviews five experts were each asked five simple questions about the legal system. Their answers are all interesting and reveal different perceptions of the same issues.
Lynn Tayton QC is an eminent criminal law and family law barrister at 36 Bedford Row, the Chambers of Frances Oldham QC.
The Honourable Mr Justice Calvert-Smith is a distinguished judge of the High Court whose judgments shape, define, and clarify English law.
Jane Goodey JP is a Lecturer in Law at The Open University, and also holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in History.
Abigail Bright is a graduate of University College London, and Oxford, and scholarship student at the Middle Temple
Professor Gary Slapper is Professor of Law, and Director of the Centre for Law, at The Open University.
The questions they were asked were:
- What is the role of barristers in the legal system?
- What makes a good barrister?
- What makes a good judge?
- What makes a legal system just?
- If we were to visit the courts in 10 years time, and watch barristers and judges at work, what would you expect would be the biggest difference from now?
The five panellists come at these questions from different fields of life, experience, and philosophical outlook, and give an interesting range of answers. These sorts of differences are a healthy part of the way that any dynamic body of human thought develops.