Dalhousie Law Journal


Justice Gibson


Legal Procedure, Access to Justice, centenary, Dalhousie Law School, Law Commission, recognition, shared heritage, common law, spirit of endeavour, law reform, shared legal systems, Canada, United Kingdom


The invitation to me, as present Chairman of the Law Commission for England and Wales, to take part in this centenary celebration of Dalhousie Law School was both an honour conferred on our Law Commission and a recognition of our shared heritage of the common law and of the spirit and endeavour of law reform shared by the legal systems of Canada and of the United Kingdom. Greater honour was done to my office and to me by the conferring of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws of this great university in such distinguished company.' This particular honour I shall bear with pride and delight and gratitude, not caring at all for how little I personally deserve it or for the gentle astonishment of my judicial siblings and academic friends at home. The invitation to deliver this paper referred to a survey, done by lawyers from Canada, the United States, and Britain, of the experience of the Anglo-American legal system over the past one hundred years. First, I must make some disclaimers. The United Kingdom is a unitary state, but it has three legal systems. I have worked in that of England and Wales. The law and legal systems of Scotland and of Northern Ireland are both separate and different. In particular, the grave problems created for the legal system in Northern Ireland by the concerted use of violence against the state and the resort to sectarian killing lie outside my experience and the scope of this paper.