What is the Law?
This is the text of the 2008 Robin Cooke Lecture delivered by Lord Bingham on Thursday 4 December 2008. The author argues that the rule of law dictates that the law should be accessible, intelligible, clear, and predicable. First, citizens must be able to find out without undue difficulty regarding any criminal punishments or liability. Secondly, if the civil law confers enforceable rights or obligations, it is important to know what those rights and obligations are. Thirdly, the successful conduct of trade, investment and business generally is promoted by a body of accessible legal rules governing the rights and obligations of the parties. The author then turns to judges and explores several issues for the nature of judgments. First, Lord Bingham asks who the judge is addressing when giving judgment. Secondly, the author explores the "essential ingredients" of a judgment. Thirdly, the author explores the qualities of good judgments. Finally, the judge asks whether multiple judgments in appellate courts are desirable. The author concludes that an undue willingness in a judge to innovate subverts the very principle that he described in the article and commends Lord Cooke for his role as a simplifier, clarifier, and an expounder of law.
Authors retain copyright in their work published in the Victoria University of Wellington Law Review.