Dalhousie Law Journal


Canada, common law, legal education, legal history, United States, welfare state, torts, Privy Council


During the 1930s. scholars in the Canadian common law schools introduced fundamental changes in ways of thinking about law, changes that made one of them. John Willis, say 'the world was turned upside down." These scholars rejected the past, especially the English legal thought of the late nineteenth century Instead, they were influenced by changes in the United States, which began early in the century, and by the emerging regulatory and welfare state. In private law subjects, Caesar Wright was central, using American ideas to challenge the dominant English authority, especially in his writing about torts. In public law subjects, the major figures were Willis, W PM Kennedy, Alex Corry, and Vincent MacDonald They made devastating attacks on the decisions of the Privy Council about the division of powers, made imaginative proposals about statutory interpretation, and justified the emerging administrative state against the challenges of critics such as Lord Hewart. At the end of the decade, Bora Laskin embodied the accumulation of these ideas, and at the same time incorporated tendencies that became dominant after the War

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