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"The Rule of Law" is a phrase much used but
little examined. The idea of the rule of law as the foundation of modern
states and civilizations has recently become even more talismanic than
that of democracy, but what does it actually consist of? In this
brilliant short book, Britain's former senior law lord, and one of
the world's most acute legal minds, examines what the idea actually
means. He makes clear that the rule of law is not an arid legal doctrine
but is the foundation of a fair and just society, is a guarantee of
responsible government, is an important contribution to economic growth
and offers the best means yet devised for securing peace and
co-operation. He briefly examines the historical origins of the rule,
and then advances eight conditions which capture its essence as
understood in western democracies today. He also discusses the strains
imposed on the rule of law by the threat and experience of international
terrorism. The book will be influential in many different fields and
should become a key text for anyone interested in politics, society, and
the state of our world.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.32

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Reviews for The Rule of Law:

4

Jun 26, 2016

One of the things I liked about Britain's being in the EU was having an extra layer of legal appeal that lay above the level of the nation-state. This is of course exactly what many anti-Europe campaigners hate most, but from my experience of Europe these myriad rulings about flammable duvets and transporting hazardous substances, all hashed out quietly by experts far away from the media pressure of any particular country, were generally sensible and politically unpartisan.

When (dare I say if) One of the things I liked about Britain's being in the EU was having an extra layer of legal appeal that lay above the level of the nation-state. This is of course exactly what many anti-Europe campaigners hate most, but from my experience of Europe these myriad rulings about flammable duvets and transporting hazardous substances, all hashed out quietly by experts far away from the media pressure of any particular country, were generally sensible and politically unpartisan.

When (dare I say if) the UK does leave Europe, all of that legislation will disappear and some army of bureaucrats will have to recreate most of it again under British law. Fortunately we will, at least as far as I can tell, still be signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, whose court in Strasbourg has already helped several Brits whose rights were not satisfactorily upheld by British rulings. (Edit – in point of fact, the Home Secretary has already said that she wants us to withdraw from the ECHR after Brexit.) The fact that EU member-states are required to sign this convention is one of the many reasons the Union has been such a force for good, as can be seen from the many former Eastern Bloc countries that bent over backwards to commit to ‘the rule of law and respect for human rights’ in order to join.

That phrase ‘the rule of law’, written into the EU's Copenhagen criteria, is a cliché that covers a lot of ground, and this small, lucid book is an attempt to set down what exactly it means to most people and why it matters. Lord Bingham was, until his death in 2010, the most senior as well as the most eminent judge in Britain, and before that was typically described as the greatest lawyer of his generation. Like only the true masters in any field, he distils the complexities of his subject into the most wonderfully simple, jargon-free, crystal-clear prose that could be understood by any smart twelve-year-old.

Particularly useful is the brief run-down of key historical landmarks in establishing the principles of western law, from Magna Carta in 1215, through Bills of Rights both British (1689) and American (1791), down to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Progress has been slow and incremental and sometimes rather two-steps-forward-one-step-back. It wasn't, for instance, until 1836 that defence counsel was allowed to address the jury directly on the defendant's behalf – in fact one judge in his memoirs recalls a conviction of theft that took place after a trial lasting all of two minutes fifty-three seconds, including the economical jury direction: ‘Gentlemen, I suppose you have no doubt? I have none.’

The historical context proves to be quite illuminating when it comes to contemporary debates. In the seventeenth century, for instance, Charles II's chief minister, the Earl of Clarendon, had a habit of transferring political prisoners to outlying parts of the United Kingdom where the writ of habeas corpus did not run, and where he could therefore hold people indefinitely. After his fall from power, it was felt that this practice should somehow be prevented, and the result was the Habeas Corpus Amendment Act 1679 – an Act which only just got through the House of Lords, by the way, supposedly because the person counting the ayes ‘succeeded, without his opposite number noticing, in counting a very fat Lord as 10’.

Bingham uses this story to discuss Guantánamo Bay, a facility set up to do exactly what the Earl of Clarendon did and for the same reasons, and which has seen the same tussle between the executive and the judiciary in the US that Britain went through in the 1600s. Bingham is, indeed, quite worried about roll-backs in people's legal rights, particularly following President Bush's declaration of a War on Terror (this book was written as Obama was being elected). He stresses, for instance, the vital importance that national laws should protect non-nationals (a matter of ‘equality before the law’); this is not just for their own sake, but also because curtailing the rights of non-nationals has so often been the prelude to denying the same rights to citizens.

This is very much a live issue. The USA PATRIOT Act, for example, denied foreigners basic rights of political association, due process and privacy; in the UK, meanwhile, new legislation after 9/11 meant that foreigners suspected of terrorism could be held indefinitely but British nationals accused of the same thing could not. Bingham clearly feels that detention without trial is one of the key issues that has been eroded in recent years. In Britain in 1997 the maximum time someone suspected of terrorism could be held without charge was four days. In 2000 it was seven days; in 2003 fourteen days; in 2006 twenty-eight days. Subsequent attempts to raise it further to forty-two or even ninety days have so far been defeated in Parliament.

American activities have been an order of magnitude larger and more concerning, with the Pentagon said to have conceded that some 80,000 people have been detained in various ‘black’ sites around the world, some on no charge at all. Various Supreme Court decision have spanked the administration over its behaviour – Rasul v Bush , Hamdan v Rumsfeld , Boumediene v Bush are key – as legislators attempted to stay one step ahead by creating new laws which would make outrages more technically permissible. The same could be said for torture, which was redefined in such a way as to allow, at least tacitly, what later happened at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Obama rolled some of this back, but of course Guantánamo is still a constant affront to many of the basic rights that, until recently, the United States had resolutely stood for, including the right to a fair trial, habeas corpus, the rejection of torture, and so on. This is how a great country can very easily surrender its previous claims to moral authority.

Bingham casts a lot of this debate, with great clarity, as an ancient and long-running showdown between Cicero's maxim Salus populi suprema est lex (‘the safety of the people is the supreme law’) and what he describes as the ‘preferable’ stance of Benjamin Franklin, that ‘he who would put security before liberty deserves neither’. He applies this to an interesting discussion of recent surveillance legislation, although events have moved on so quickly since this book was published, with Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA, that you'll need to supplement these parts with some more contemporary reading.

Overall this is a very, very clear outline of what people are entitled to expect from legislative frameworks, and how we got there. It convinced me again of the importance of having supra-national bodies that can hold countries to account, at least in theory – but more than that it's just a pleasure to read, and should give you a good basis for working out your own thoughts about how courts work, how justice is pursued, and how countries behave on the international stage. ...more
3

Dec 28, 2015

The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers

- Dick, a rebel, in Henry the 6th Part Two by William Shakespeare

*

When I read this sentence:

If you maltreat a penguin in the London Zoo, you do not escape prosecution because you are the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I conceived that Baron (call me Tom) Bingham of Cornhill, former Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and a Senior Law Lord might be the ideal guide through the unclear conglomerations of legal definition and public conduct which lay The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers

- Dick, a rebel, in Henry the 6th Part Two by William Shakespeare

*

When I read this sentence:

If you maltreat a penguin in the London Zoo, you do not escape prosecution because you are the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I conceived that Baron (call me Tom) Bingham of Cornhill, former Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and a Senior Law Lord might be the ideal guide through the unclear conglomerations of legal definition and public conduct which lay ahead. This was emphasised when he quoted his favourite attempt by a legislator to define exactly what he meant – this is from the 1979 Banking Act Appeals Procedure (England and Wales) :

Any reference in these regulations to a regulation is a reference to a regulation contained in these regulations.

However what follows in the next 174 pages has very few laughs. It’s essential, but so, so dry I cannot in conscience recommend this book unless you are submerged up to your chin in very wet water.

He takes us through the major milestones :

Magna Carta 1215
Habeas Corpus 1305 amended 1679
Bill of Rights and Act of Settlement 1689 and 1701
Constitution of the USA 1787
Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, Paris, 1789
Bill of Rights, USA, 1791
Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

It fair makes your head swim, all these goodlyhearted people trying to abolish torture and arbitrary imprisonment and rats and scurvy and no maltreatment of any penguin anywhere ever under pain of no pain.

But what do we mean by the rule of law?

*
A state which savagely represses or persecutes sections of its people cannot in my view be regarded as observing the rule of law, even if the transport of the persecuted minority to the concentration camp or the compulsory exposure of female children on the mountainside is the subject of detailed laws duly enacted and scrupulously observed.

We recall how the Nazis had genealogical experts to go through people’s family history to determine if they should be killed – heaven forbid that they should accidentally gas an Aryan! Similar exactness was observed in apartheid South Africa when assigning people to the correct ethnic group. So just because you have a set of laws which you then follow exactly, that does not create the rule of law. This law of which we desire the rule of is a specific type : Western liberal.

Zut alors, the rest of the book explains how Western governments spout all this goodlyhearted stuff through their mouths whilst trying to bend their own self-imposed rules whenever the shoe pinches, and thanks to a sorry parade of ne’er-do-wells from commie pinkos, wild IRA nutjobs and on right up to the currently foaming tide of jihadi Johns, the shoe pinches almost continually. And so the dark arts of redefining torture, extraordinary rendition, mass surveillance, control orders, Guantanamo Bays and all the way up to illegal invasions of sovereign countries gets the go ahead with just a little soft-shoe-shuffling at the United Nations and the Supreme Court.



(The British Sun newspaper celebrates the sinking of the Argentinian ship the Belgrano in 1982 with the loss of 382 lives. It was sailing away from the war zone at the time.)

*

A good part of this book grapples with the notion of human rights, which is indeed thorny. He says

This [human rights] is a difficult area since there is no universal consensus on the rights and freedoms which are fundamental, even among civilised nations.

And as an immediate example :

The right to life has been described as the most fundamental of all rights, and it is indeed obvious that unless a person is alive he or she can enjoy no other rights.

You can immediately hear the Right-to-Lifers applauding and the Women’s Right to Choosers groaning. But that’s what it’s like, all the way down the line.

There’s an excellent ten pages on the exact reasoning the Bush administration used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq – I had forgotten the nuances of the arguments, as one does, but very interesting it was. Mr Bumble was wrong, the law is not so much an ass, more a sleek horse which will obey any skilled rider.



(is this cruel or just unusual?)
...more
5

Oct 11, 2014

I thought I was reading a worthy but dull book on jurisprudence. A few hours of tedium were surely ahead but I would emerge a better person, educated by one of the finest legal minds on important issues of legal philosophy.

And then I turned the page to Chapter 11: Terrorism and the Rule of Law and instead found myself reading a work of crude dystopian fantasy.

Innocent people on vacation are kidnapped by secret agents of a state that proclaims itself the defender of freedom, then rendered to I thought I was reading a worthy but dull book on jurisprudence. A few hours of tedium were surely ahead but I would emerge a better person, educated by one of the finest legal minds on important issues of legal philosophy.

And then I turned the page to Chapter 11: Terrorism and the Rule of Law and instead found myself reading a work of crude dystopian fantasy.

Innocent people on vacation are kidnapped by secret agents of a state that proclaims itself the defender of freedom, then rendered to distant locations famed for the skills of the torturers that abide there. Once they have endured the Salt Pits and their innocence is established the victims are driven by car along desolate roads in Albania, then pushed out of the passenger door miles from habitation and expected to carry on their lives as if nothing had happened.

Thousands are rounded up based on criteria that may be connected to their race or beliefs but which are ultimately unknowable. They are held under laws with comically Orwellian names like the PATRIOT Act. Then, just as abruptly, these same thousands are released with no explanation. None are charged with any crime.

In this world words that say nothing of torture, words whose meaning is barely within the scope of human understanding, act as magic charms to make torture permissible:
"The executive branch shall construe the McCain amendment in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as a Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power".
Tom Bingham was also Baron Bingham of Cornill KG PC QC FBA Lord Chief Justice and Master of the Rolls. Tom Bingham was not a seller of internet conspiracies or of other overwrought reportage but a talented constitutional lawyer. This was the last book he wrote before he passed away in 2010 and he takes us patiently but skillfully through a definition and the main implications of the Rule of Law. If you are sensitive to these things you can find in this work much understated British irony and humor.

But Tom Bingham left us with a clear message in Chapter 11: the rights and freedoms that the Rule of Law seeks to defend are under threat from the hideously named War on Terror. One good example - he explains how, unlike the US, the UK has always treated acts of terrorism as criminal acts and not acts of war with far less damage to the rights of citizens.

When Tom Bingham ends Chapter 11 with a quote from a Catholic thinker, Christopher Dawson, I am sure he is leaving us with a message that is a fine tribute to our memory of him as man of great integrity but which is also a message he would not want us to ignore:
"As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy.
...more
5

Aug 07, 2011

the late bingham writes so sensitively about the rule of law, that you really don't need to have ever studied the law to appreciate this book. very accessible and illuminating.
5

Jan 02, 2016

In May 2015, the British PM David Cameron famously said
For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.
He followed this up with the admonition than the government must "bring the country together" by "actively promoting certain values. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality." Note that nationality and religion are conspicuously In May 2015, the British PM David Cameron famously said
For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.
He followed this up with the admonition than the government must "bring the country together" by "actively promoting certain values. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality." Note that nationality and religion are conspicuously absent from that list.

Alarming as the Cameron soundbite is, there is of course precedent from the other side of the pond. Bingham quotes David Cole from 2003:With a stroke of the pen, in other words, President Bush denied foreign nationals basic rights of political association, political speech, due process, and privacy.

How does the removal of due process and the presumption of innocence for foreigners square with the Rule of Law?

Bingham struggles with that question after outlining the history of the Rule of Law and providing a modern definition for what we expect a country abiding by the Rule of Law to respect. It's clear that this definition is based on Western European values of tolerance and individual independence, which unfortunately are at odds with each other in any concentrated population.

And that is fine, Bingham seems to say, as long as the government abides by the laws and principles which it has set forth, no matter what the consequences.
One of the most dangerous temptations for a government facing violent threats is to respond in heavy-handed ways that violate the rights of innocent citizens. Terrorism is a criminal act and should be treated accordingly -- and that means applying the law fairly and consistently.

That was Madeleine Albright, also quoted by Bingham, from April 2000. Remember 2000? Before the US collectively crapped itself at the realization that not everybody liked them, and decided that because Americans were such swell people after all, everybody else must obviously be wrong, and therefore they deserve what they get.

And who could have forseen this reaction? It seems pretty obvious in retrospect:

After each perceived security crisis ended, the United States has remorsefully realized that the abrogation of civil liberties was unnecessary. But it has proven unable to prevent itself from repeating the error when the next crisis came along.
That was William Brennan, again quoted by Bingham, writing in 1987 and referring to such past embarrassments as the interment of Japanese-Americans and the McCarthy red scare.

But politicians are no students of history. No surprise there -- they can't handle basic maths either.

So while it's tempting to say that every elected and appointed official should read this book of Bingham's, it wouldn't make one bit of difference. A politician has the memory of a goldfish, and the attention span of a teenager.

Which means it is up to everyone else to read this excellent book, and to hold those self-aggrandizing bastards responsible for the wrongs they have wrought. ...more
5

Feb 14, 2010

There are countries in the world where all judicial decisions find favour with the powers that be, but they are probably not places where any of us would wish to live.

I was lucky enough to attend an evening of discussion, question an answers with Lord Bingham a couple of years ago. It was the first time I had heard him speak (before I had begun my legal studies), but I still found myself fascinated by what he had to say. Two years later, with some in-depth reading of his recent judgments under There are countries in the world where all judicial decisions find favour with the powers that be, but they are probably not places where any of us would wish to live.

I was lucky enough to attend an evening of discussion, question an answers with Lord Bingham a couple of years ago. It was the first time I had heard him speak (before I had begun my legal studies), but I still found myself fascinated by what he had to say. Two years later, with some in-depth reading of his recent judgments under my belt, his thoughts are even more captivating.

This is a short book, which I think is to his credit; when you consider the sheer volume of writings that there has been on this subject, Bingham's ability to cover the most important aspects and arguments so succinctly says a lot. As does the ease with which he explains why the invasion of Iraq was, in his opinion, illegal.

Whilst a basic legal knowledge may be required to understand some of the more complex areas, overall the book is written in a style that could be read by anyone with an interest in the subject. It's heavily referenced with dozens of footnotes, not infrequently referring to cases on which he sat as a judge, with a huge number of sources for such a short book.

I'm not sure just how much interest this book will be to the average person on the street, but I highly recommend it for those studying or working in the field, particularly those with an interest in constitutional law. A brilliant mind at work. ...more
5

Mar 18, 2017

This book confirmed that I want to study Law at university.

It is highly accessible and readable, and is applicable to almost all legal systems worldwide, though with a particular emphasis on the English legal system. I highly recommend it for everyone.

"The rule of law" is a phrase often used, but not many people know what it means, its significance and its historical context. This book - or rather an essay, more like - explains it in very simple terms. It will change the way you think and This book confirmed that I want to study Law at university.

It is highly accessible and readable, and is applicable to almost all legal systems worldwide, though with a particular emphasis on the English legal system. I highly recommend it for everyone.

"The rule of law" is a phrase often used, but not many people know what it means, its significance and its historical context. This book - or rather an essay, more like - explains it in very simple terms. It will change the way you think and approach law, particularly if you live in a jurisdiction which has a common law based system (using prior court cases and judges' rulings as precedents). ...more
5

May 29, 2015

Picked up this gem of a book today and began to skim. Skimming turned to deep reading, which turned to page-turning fixation. That says a lot for a book mainly concerned with jurisprudence.

It's not so much the subject matter that makes this book great, it is the clarity of presentation coupled with penetrating international analysis. As an American, I can use a bias-check every now and then, and Bingham provides it with erudition and wit.

We often hear of "The Rule of Law" here in the states, Picked up this gem of a book today and began to skim. Skimming turned to deep reading, which turned to page-turning fixation. That says a lot for a book mainly concerned with jurisprudence.

It's not so much the subject matter that makes this book great, it is the clarity of presentation coupled with penetrating international analysis. As an American, I can use a bias-check every now and then, and Bingham provides it with erudition and wit.

We often hear of "The Rule of Law" here in the states, but it is often a rhetorical tool rather than a principle consistently applied. If there is any book able to lay out the meaning of, and need for, the rule of law, it is this one. ...more
5

May 22, 2014

This book begins:

"In 2006 I was asked to give the sixth Sir David Williams Lecture at the University of Cambridge. This is an annual lecture established in honour (not, happily, in memory) of a greatly respected legal scholar, leader and college head in that university. The organizers generously offered me a free choice of subject. . . .

"I chose as my subject 'The Rule of Law'. I did so because the expression was constantly on people's lips, I was not quite sure what it meant, and I was not This book begins:

"In 2006 I was asked to give the sixth Sir David Williams Lecture at the University of Cambridge. This is an annual lecture established in honour (not, happily, in memory) of a greatly respected legal scholar, leader and college head in that university. The organizers generously offered me a free choice of subject. . . .

"I chose as my subject 'The Rule of Law'. I did so because the expression was constantly on people's lips, I was not quite sure what it meant, and I was not sure that all those who used the expression knew what they meant either, or meant the same thing."

I was actually at this lecture (Cambridge spouse privilege), and I remember being fascinated and feverishly writing down what Lord Bingham was saying. This book, The Rule of Law, grew out of that lecture and luckily it's a lot more detailed than the notes I took, which I still have to this day.

For non-Brits, Lord Bingham was the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the English equivalent of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. And in particular, Lord Bingham is regarded as one of the greatest jurists in English history. I think of him as a sort of equivalent to a Justice Holmes in American history. Of course, Lord Bingham is of more recent vintage than Holmes.

This book is a wonderfully incisive and detailed explanation of the concept of the rule of law. It starts with three meanings we assign to the concept of the rule of law (first coined and explained by Dicey.) Then it gives eight principles of the rule of law. I won't recite them here, but Lord Bingham's analysis wonderfully clarifies the concept and sets out broadly what is meant when we're talking about the rule of law. Then, the eight principles outline in a practical way what kinds of laws and policies that must be enacted to give life to the concept of the rule of law. Interestingly, Lord Bingham points out that a state's laws may adhere to the rule of law (in brief, the concept that legal actions must conform to the established rules, apply equally to all persons, and be applied in the ordinary courts through the ordinary legal processes) while being repugnant to our sense of "liberty," for example, a state that outlaws drinking orange soda as a rule of universal application and applied/punished through the ordinary courts and criminal system is one acting consistent with the rule of law, but only in the "thin" meaning of that term. Lord Bingham advocates (and frankly it's the only kind that makes sense anymore) a "thick" meaning of "the rule of law" which encompasses and indeed requires protection of personal liberties as part of the concept itself.

If that interests you, I would recommend reading this book. I wouldn't call it essential reading for all lawyers and judges, because it's really big-picture, love-the-law sort of legal analysis. But it certainly is a good reminder of the principles which should guide the practice of law and jurisprudence. One problem with the book, unfortunately, is it is a little out of date. This is not helped by the unfortunate fact that Lord Bingham passed away in 2010 shortly after the book was published. So there is a short-ish section on the rule of law and the age of anti-terrorism. It is a good development of that area of recent history, though, and frankly this is what Lord Bingham will be remembered for: his guidance (and for some people, his failure to lead, unfortunately) during the decade of anti-terrorism and the challenge it brought to "the rule of law." ...more
4

Dec 28, 2013

The Rule of Law is one of the fundamental principles of a democratic society and the foundation of a civilized society. In this short concise book, Tom Bingham first examines the historical origins of the rule -- such as the Magna Carta 1215, Habeas corpus, Petition of Right 1628, Sir Matthew Hale's resolutions and the Universal Declaration of Human RIghts. He then advances eight Rule of law understood in western democracies today.

Tom Bingham goes into the specifics of any rule, stating the The Rule of Law is one of the fundamental principles of a democratic society and the foundation of a civilized society. In this short concise book, Tom Bingham first examines the historical origins of the rule -- such as the Magna Carta 1215, Habeas corpus, Petition of Right 1628, Sir Matthew Hale's resolutions and the Universal Declaration of Human RIghts. He then advances eight Rule of law understood in western democracies today.

Tom Bingham goes into the specifics of any rule, stating the limitations, historical examples and exceptions. For example, the seventh Rule of Law is "A Fair Trial" and Tom Bingham addresses the issues of civil actions (an action is that is brought to enforce, redress or protect a private or civil right). Usually, where one party holds material which is relevant to the issues in the action, the material ought to be disclosed, but an exception arises when that party claims that disclosure would injure the public interest in a significant respect. A real case, in 1977, illustrates the problem. There was a report that a mother was seriously abusing her child, and so her house was inspected. The inspector interviewed the mother and examined the child, but found nothing amiss. But the parents of the child was shocked by the complaint and wanted to discover the identity of the informer. The NSPCC refused to reveal, claiming that it fell into the exception: the work done by the Society to protect children would be gravely hampered if members of the public could not give it information in total confidence that their identity would never be revealed. At the end of the day, none of the courts hearing the case read the document revealing the name.

I picked this book up because I was recently interested in the study of Law. Many friends recommended it to me and said it was a key text for anyone interested in Law. In fact, I think this book would be appropriate for everyone because we are living in a law-guided society, and no one is above the law. ...more
5

May 11, 2013

Humbling. Beautifully written, as you would expect from one of the finest legal minds this country has known.
4

Feb 16, 2011

Acts as an excellent primer on the relationship between human rights and the law.
5

Jun 17, 2013

I wish The Rule of Law by Bingham was written by an Arab judge for the Arab World and read carefully by all Arabs but this book is universal
5

Apr 08, 2013

Tremendous exposition on the development of the rule of law over the rule of man. I highly recommend this book!
5

Aug 26, 2017

Everyone's heard the term 'Rule of Law', but very few people really understand what it stands for.
In a time when every person has their own hardcore notions of how the society should operate, this books serves as a beautiful reminder of the fact that the Rule of Law forms the most important foundation of a smoothly functioning society. The law emanates from the people, not from the whims of political parties, businesses or religious organizations, thus insuring people's liberties and fair trial. Everyone's heard the term 'Rule of Law', but very few people really understand what it stands for.
In a time when every person has their own hardcore notions of how the society should operate, this books serves as a beautiful reminder of the fact that the Rule of Law forms the most important foundation of a smoothly functioning society. The law emanates from the people, not from the whims of political parties, businesses or religious organizations, thus insuring people's liberties and fair trial.

The great thing about this book is that it's very clear and does not require any formal background in law to understand it. This book is highly inclusive for people from any country, and forms a wonderful educational text for everyone, especially the youth. ...more
4

Oct 07, 2018

Enlightening. Anyone attempting to understand what really drives fairness & justice in society ought to read this.

Highly recommended.
4

Jun 08, 2011

A wonderful introduction to the fundamentals of law. Written in a way that allows a layman or beginner (I am both when it comes to law) to understand the basic principles that have shaped the law and how it has evolved into the complex and wonderful beast it is today

These basics which we take for granted in this country, like the right to a fair trial seem to be common sense, but as the book demonstrates, recently even these basics "rules of law" have come under attack in the guise of A wonderful introduction to the fundamentals of law. Written in a way that allows a layman or beginner (I am both when it comes to law) to understand the basic principles that have shaped the law and how it has evolved into the complex and wonderful beast it is today

These basics which we take for granted in this country, like the right to a fair trial seem to be common sense, but as the book demonstrates, recently even these basics "rules of law" have come under attack in the guise of counter-terrorism legislation. The section dealing with this, even if you have a cursory understanding of rendition and Guantanamo Bay, will shock. And Bingham's argument for the illegality of the Iraq war is reasoned and balanced.

It is a shame the author died shortly after this book was published. It would have been an honour to have seem one of his lectures of this subject ...more
5

Mar 22, 2015

So, so excellent!!! Pretty uncompromising about how the UK is doing in upholding rule of law values as well as making a great case for what the concept should include. The third part was quite weighted to UK/USA comparison but that was actually more helpful than not. And the section on parliamentary sovereignty got a grasp of the balance of what was desirable and why its not working right now. So good!!
3

Jan 20, 2012

A book full of facts that are cleary written with opinions from one of England's top judges this book was an inspiring read which covered one of my favourite topics, the magna carta. All in all a great book only down side is that after a while I lost my motivation to read it and therefore, skimmed the last couple of pages. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning more about the rule of law.
5

Feb 10, 2016

This is quite simply the most accessible and clearly written book on the law, and how it is applied to modern Britain. The sections on human rights law and response to terrorism in the post 2001 word are particularly apposite and essential reading

The reader would be hard pressed not to leap to the defence of a hard won system of justice based on Bingham's work.
5

Oct 17, 2010

If you think playing it by the rules is all that matters, then you should read Bingham's "The Rule of Law". It will change the way you think about the rules...asking yourself : What is Law ? A must read for lawyers and paralegals.Or anyone else who thinks law for Dummies helps them to live a better life.
5

Jul 22, 2012

A very British take on the rule of law, but nonetheless a great book written by the former Law Lord and advocate of the rule of the law. It shows why civilization needs laws, and how this principle matters and works as a cornerstone of a stable society. Certainly a worthwhile read, not only for lawyers and politicians.
5

Mar 12, 2016

Perfect. This book is just perfect.
Why?
It's amazing, it's understandable and clear. And unlike most law books, which are filled with complicated twisty-words, Lord Bingham's writing is so simple in such a way that it makes the subject itself more interesting.

4

Oct 29, 2013

An easy read on the whole, challenging at times but if it wasn't, it wouldn't be a book about the law! Engaging and opened my mind to areas of law other than the traditional criminal, civil contract etc Well worth a read, and even has bits history lovers would like!
4

Sep 03, 2010

Very good guide to what is meant by the often used but rarely explained phrase, 'rule of law'. Particularly enjoyed the section on terrorism and the rule of law - an excellent, well reasoned discourse on a highly emotive topic.

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