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October 29, 2006

Sunday Evening Thought

In English law 'time immemorial' is defined as 1189. So we've actually had people making and passing laws since then, adding all the time.

817 years and counting. When do you think they will get the job finished so that the politicians will all go home?

October 29, 2006 in Law | Permalink


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Tim, what do you mean 'is defined as time immemorial'? Did they decide time stemmed from that moment and who decided? Was it Stephen at that time? I'm a little hazy.

Tim adds: When they were trying to work out what the basic law of England was (Henry, I think) already, they needed a date back to which they could refer customary law. That was as far back as anyone could be trusted to remember at the time.

Posted by: james higham | Oct 29, 2006 6:39:33 PM

Wikipedia to the rescue!

Tim adds: Ahem, that's what I just looked up to remember the date!

Posted by: yellerKat | Oct 29, 2006 6:54:22 PM

Henry II came to the throne in 1154, when there was still Trial by Ordeal. When he died, in 1190, there were circuit judges, juries, the King's Bench, the law of tort and so on. Henry II repays investigation, and W.L. Warren's eponymous book is a good place to start.

P.J. O'Rourke asked the "Are they through yet" question in his book Parliament of Whores, at least a decade ago (I can't be bothered to look up the publication date).

The answer still seems to be "no".

Interesting to reflect, in passing, that the rights of jury trial and habeas corpus that were initiated and codified by a mediaeval monarch are being eroded by a bunch of elected tyrants. The Republican case is now made most strongly not by any discontent with the way the monarch carries out her role, or by opposition to the hereditary principle, but rather by the reflection that these bastards are not fit to wield the Royal Prerogative. Parliament should only have limited powers, not essentially those of an absolute monarch.

Tim adds: Aw, damn, do you have to point out that yet another of my jokes is stolen from PJ?

Posted by: Peter Risdon | Oct 29, 2006 8:23:53 PM

In English law 'time immemorial' is defined as 1189. In New Labour, it is defined as 'last Wednesday'.

Posted by: Andrew Zalotocky | Oct 29, 2006 9:20:34 PM

"initiated and codified by a mediaeval monarch": and a bloody Frog, to boot.

Posted by: dearieme | Oct 29, 2006 10:00:45 PM

Peter Risdon - Excellent post!

Posted by: Verity | Oct 29, 2006 10:19:42 PM

No, you're all wrong - it's 00:00:00.000 1st Jan 1970. Nothing existed prior to this date.

Posted by: sanbikinoriaon | Oct 30, 2006 9:22:29 AM

When do you think they will get the job finished so that the politicians will all go home?

They just need to enact the one allowing me to opt out of the income tax system and they're all set.

Posted by: sortapundit | Oct 30, 2006 11:02:57 AM