Law as a system of values

|Speeches|Sir Rabinder Singh

“It is an honour to give this year’s Jan Grodecki lecture. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Professor Grodecki but I know that he was a courageous man, a highly respected scholar and a much loved teacher. I am also pleased to see that he was an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, which is also my Inn. Professor Grodecki was a firm believer in the view that the academic study of law should be rooted in other disciplines such as the social sciences.”

“In 1981 Kevin Gray and Pamela Symes published a book called Real Property and Real People, which brought a refreshing new approach to the study of land law. In the preface to that book they said that the ultimate purpose of a university education in law is not the learning of rules but “the critical perception of value.” Of course, the study of law can involve both. There is no inherent contradiction between the learning of rules, in other words a doctrinal or technical approach, and a broader study, which places law in its social context. The first approach might be compared to what Professor Hart called the “internal point of view” and the second corresponds to the “external point of view.”[1] Many would suggest that both are important for a full and rounded legal education.”

“The theme of my lecture will be the relationship between law and values, a relationship which is not a straightforward one. I will use the term “values” broadly, to include what a society regards as most worthwhile. Often values are moral values but they need not be; and moral values certainly need not be founded on the doctrines of religion in general or any religion in particular.”


[1] H. L. A. Hart, The Concept of Law (2nd ed., Clarendon Press, 1994) pp.89-91.

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