LAW – Robert’s New Book – Another Extract – EP Thompson On Class Justice
Law as a weapon of class conflict
P. Thompson made the following points about English law in the historical context of class:
The common law tradition has so frequently been associated with concepts of fundamental right and justice that it is at first startling to find that it was used as the main doctrinal justification for preventing the advancement of working people of both sexes, notably in conspiracy cases, and of women of the upper and middle classes, primarily in the male monopoly cases. What maintained continuity between the ideas of the common law over the centuries was that it continued to be the instrument of the judges and to express in a vigorous if indirect form the interest of the social group with whom the judges were associated. The fundamental rights of the English people thus amounted to little more than the fundamental rights of the judges, and chief amongst these was the right to determine how social claims could be legally classified and what procedures should be followed for their enforcement.