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The Richard O'Sullivan
Memorial Lecture

Richard O'Sullivan KC, KSG, (1888-1963) was born in Cork, served in the Royal Artillery during the 1914-1918 War, and then joined the chambers of the future Mr Justice McCardie. He had a substantial practice from the middle twenties, but at the same time began to develop and expound his ideas on the Christian origin of the Common Law of England. He brought out its theological roots in the work of men who were both priests and lawyers like Bracton. A whole generation learnt from what he had himself imbibed, from Maitland pre-eminently, of the central place which English law in its formative centuries made for the liber et legalis homo, the free and lawful man, responsible and fit for responsibilities. He was a great enthusiast for Thomas More, another champion of the Common Law, and founded the Thomas More Society. Like Edmund Plowden, he was a member of the Middle Temple and also held the office of Treasurer.

It is in honour of Richard O'Sullivan that the Edmund Plowden Trust has named its lectures, and we are delighted to welcome Lord Mackay to join the distinguished company of those who have given this lecture. They include Lord Nolan, Lord Scarman, Lord Hailsham, Simon Lee, Anthony Allott and Gareth Jones. The journal's 50th anniversary celebration lecture was given in 2013 by Rt. Hon. Lord Mackay of Clashfern.

Past Lectures

  1. 'Loss or Gain: Some Modern Trends in English Law. Degeneration?'- 1971, 33, 121
  2. 'The Law of Nature and the Law of Nations' - 1975, 48/49, 48
  3. 'A British Bill of Rights?' - 1977, 54/55, 82
  4. 'The Social Challenge to the Common Law'- 1983, 76/77, 22
  5. 'Judges & Public Policy in the Light of Gillick' - 1987, 94/95, 81
  6. 'The Common Law and the Third World'- 1990, 104/105, 20
  7. 'The Length of the Chancellor's Foot' - 1991, 108/109, 4
  8. 'Thomas More: A Saint for the New Millennium' - 2001, 147, 79
  9. 'Federalism in the Proposed EU and in the US Constitutions' - 2005, 155, 87
  10. 'Does Establishment have a future?' - 2013, 170, 7
  11. 'Can a Christian still be a High Court Judge today?' - 2016, 176, 6
  12. 'Why Can't We Stop Pretending Law Has Anything to do with Justice? A Critical Natural Law Theory' - 2020, 184, 7
  13. 'What Does Human Dignity Mean and Why Should We Care?' - 2022, 189, 110
  14. 'A New Great Awakening of Religious Freedom in America' - 2023, 191, 119


Charity, Religion & the State:
An Uneasy Relationship

Speakers Slides from the Conference available below:


Published by:

The Edmund Plowden Trust

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