The author, Lord Tom Bingham, 'the most eminent of British Judges' (Guardian), held office successively, as Master of the Rolls. Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and Senior Law Lord of the United Kingdom, the only person ever to hold all three offices. He became a life peer, as Baron Bingham of Cornhill, in the County of Powys, on becoming Lord Chief Justice in 1996. In 2005 he was appointed a Knight of the Garter, the first professional Judge to be so honoured. He retired in 2008, and in the same year was elected by the Institute de France as the first winner of the the Prize for Law awarded by the Alexander S Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. Tom Bingham died in September 2010, six months after the first publication of this book.
The Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law was established in 2010 with Lord Bingham's support, as part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, striving to support the development and strengthening of the rule of law as set out in this book.
The Rule of Law was chosen as a 'book of the year' by Chris Patten, former chief executive of HongKong and Chancellor of Oxford University (in the Observer), Gideon Rachman (in the Financial Times) and Geoffrey Robertson (in the New Statesman).
This book, although written by a former judge, is not addressed to lawyers. It does not purport to be a legal textbook. It is addressed to those who have heard references to the rule of law, who are inclined to think that it sounds like a good thing rather than a bad thing, who wonder if it may not be rather important, but who are not quite sure what it is all about and would like to make up their minds.
'The rule of law' , a much used phrase but little examined. Bingham, said to be one of the most acute legal minds of our time, examines what the idea actually means and made clear that it is not an arid legal doctrine but the foundation of a fair and just society, a guarantee of responsible government, and an important contributor to economic growth.
Of course, we must however be mindful that he examined its historical origins and captured its essence as understood in western democracies today. Closely argued indeed. But then again, you may have a different interpretation.
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