Should we be wary of an increasing tendency for 'rule by law'? Courts have recently decided cases about welfare reforms, hospital closures, the HS2 railway line, assisted suicide, genetics, compensation for Kenyan Mau Mau victims, and whether a hotelier can refuse a hotel bed to a gay couple. Does this mean justice is being stretched beyond its proper remit? Should we welcome judges' wisdom in arbitrating over greater areas of life and difficult subjects, or should we be wary of the politicisation of the law and 'judicial activism'? Does the law have limits? If so, where should these limits be drawn and by whom?
Jon has been listed by the legal directories as a leading barrister in public law since 2005 and the latest edition of Chambers & Partners 'praises him for his creativity and pragmatism' and says 'he brings a fresh perspective and is extremely thorough'.
Jon is a regular contributor to spiked and the New Law Journal where he writes about the politics of law. He was shortlisted for the Legal Journalism award 2014 organised by the legal publisher, Halsbury.
Unusually for a lawyer, Jon argues for the expansion of lawyer-free zones and against the judicialisation of life. He would like to see: more common sense and fewer laws; more businessmen, scientists and teachers and fewer lawyers. He tweets for more humanity and less law @JonHolb.
Professor Gavin Phillipson
Gavin Phillipson has held a chair in law at the University of Durham since January 2007. He is a qualified solicitor and has been a senior fellow at the University of Melbourne. His research interests lie in the fields of European and UK human-rights law, especially freedom of expression, and the judicial role in protecting human rights. He has written widely in these areas in top UK, US and Canadian journals and published three books, including, with Helen Fenwick, Media Freedom under the Human Rights Act (2006, OUP). A fourth book - Debating Hate Speech (with Eric Heinze, Hart) - is forthcoming in 2015.
He has given papers by invitation at numerous conferences and seminars overseas, including in Washington, Duke and George Washington Law Schools and the universities of Toronto, Hong Kong, Monash, Singapore, Melbourne and UNSW. His scholarship has been cited in, and influenced judgements of, the High Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords and the New Zealand Court of Appeal and used by the Media Lawyer's Association in their third-party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Von Hannover v Germany (no 2) (2012).
Recent Parliamentary reports including by the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions (2012), Joint Committee on Human Rights (re the Defamation Bill Dec 2012) and the Constitutional and Political Reform Committee (2013) have discussed his evidence to them in detail as did the recent Law Commission Report on Hate Crime (2014). He has made frequent contributions to national and international press, radio and TV, including the Telegraph, Sunday Times, Guardian, BBC Newsnight, Radio 4, Sky News, Al Jazeera, Christian Science Monitor, Boston's Chronicle of Higher Education, Norway's Al Posten, and Denmark's Politikein.
Helen Reece is a Reader in Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where her main teaching responsibilities and research interests lie in Family Law. Her current research is concerned with the regulation of intimacy, particularly within the family setting. Her main research project at present, Violence to Feminism, is a theoretical probing of the contemporary feminist approach to violence against women. The two main research questions that she is addressing are first, why contemporary feminist theory has celebrated ever-widening conceptions of violence and secondly, why the contemporary feminist approach to violence against women has permeated legal development.
Anthony Speaight QC
A barrister in private practice for the last 40 years. Practice has covered a wide range of court work.
Bencher of Middle Temple.
Member of the Executive Committee of the Society of Conservative Lawyers.
Member of the Government Commission on a UK Bill of Rights (2011-2012).
Chairman of the Political Committee of the Carlton Club (2009-2013).
Chairman, Bar Council's Access to the Bar Committee (2004-6).
Chairman, Editorial Board of Counsel, journal of the Bar of England & Wales (1991-5).
Author of various legal works on professional negligence and allied subjects; and of a number of political papers including A Call for a Conservative Intellectual Revival in Law and Human Rights (2013, Society of Conservative lawyers).
Emily Thornberry is Labour MP for Islington South & Finsbury and shadow attorney general. Before entering Parliament, Emily practised as a criminal and human-rights barrister at the chambers of Mike Mansfield QC. She was first elected in 2005, and was re-elected in 2010. In 2009, she was made a ministerial aide in the Department of Energy and Climate Change and, after the 2010 election, became a shadow minister in the Department of Energy and Climate Change. In October 2010, Emily became a shadow health minister and shadow attorney general in October 2011.