December 16, 2009

Gary Watt's Equity Stirring: The Story of Justice Beyond Law

A wonderful, densely written book that you shouldn't miss: Gary Watt's Equity Stirring: The Story of Justice Beyond Law (Hart Publishing, 2009).

Says Professor Watt in his introduction, "I start with titles, because one of the aims of this book is to explore the potential of a cultural discourse, based on equity, to resist a culture of entitlement, based on rights. The inscription of title and entitlement, but the process is fundamentally erroneous and calls for equity's correction, since a mere title can never express the whole truth."

The author plays with language and ideas throughout the work, instructing and guiding and leading us along the way in an invigorating adventure through the philosophy of law, literature, cases (e.g., the Earl of Oxford's case), the history of law, law and gender, and then "gets down to cases:" for example, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. I found the extensive discussion of the many meanings of chancery (chapter 3: Chancery Script) of particular interest. Watt races from Charles Dickens to Sir Edward Coke and weaves from literature to law with astounding ease. It's a star turn, and a volume that one can re-read profitably.

Lots of footnotes, an amazing bibliography.

[NB: The publisher sent me this free copy.]

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