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  • Writer's pictureRobert Spicer

Edward Thompson On Law And Lawyers

Thompson referred to lawyers employed in the service of those who are working out means of avoiding tax and estate duties, setting up evasive trusts, engineering property-development and outwitting planning officers, promoting and merging companies in dubious ways, scrutinising complex legislation to find the pin-hole of unsealed logic through which money can make its leaky way.

Law today, commented Thompson, can be a profoundly corrupting profession.

In Thompson’s view, the rule of law is an unqualified human good. The rule of law must always be historically, culturally and, in general, nationally specific. It concerns the conduct of social life, and the regulation of conflicts, according to rules of law which are exactly defined and have palpable and material evidences – which rules attain towards consensual assent and are subject to interrogation and reform. That this itself is an ideal definition, which takes little account of social and ideological determinants of property and class, and which has never been matched by social reality, does not mean that the aspiration towards that state is not a human good.

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