This book offers a collection of essays by arguably the most popular legal historian writing today. Most of the essays have not been previously published, and those which have appeared previously have been re-written to make the collection read more coherently. The collection is centred upon the theme of the leading case - a case where the judgment has established a long-lasting or far reaching precedent in common law, and the author has selected a number of these cases in order to illustrate how the precedents established by the cases have little or nothing to do with the trials themselves.
Readership: Lawyers and legal historians.
A. W. Brian Simpson, Charles and Edith J. Clyne Professor of Law, University of Michigan
"'engaging and profoundly subversive book...If there is a more painstaking and ingenious researcher of local knowledge, a shrewder and more avid excavator of miscellanies, than Brian Simpson, I have never run across him: Simpson seems to have dug up pretty nearly everything that seems even remotely relevant to understanding his cases, and a great deal more besides. Indeed, so overwhelming is the mass of contextual detail that the reader is rescued from psychic inundation only by the inherent fascination of much of the background and Simpson's seductive charm as a storyteller. This is a very funny book.'"
"'This book is a classic. Professor Simpson, who is one of the world's greatest legal historians, has comprehensively reserached the background to a number of leading cases in the common law.'"
"''his historical miniatures are valuable...Each historical interlude is well-reserached, sympathetic and well-written in Professor Simpson's laconic and ironic style. The volume is particularly recommended to beginning law students, to reassure them that the real world of the law is firmly placed in the real world of human passions and desires.'"
"A good-humoured and forgiving cynicism pervades his interpretation of the legal past." - The Cambridge Law Journal
"Leading Cases in the Common Law should be on the shelves of all academic, courthouse and large private law libraries, and in the personal collection of every lawyer who ever wondered about the nature of the law and what they do all day. Not only is this book informative and educational, it is also a good read...Professor Simpson has produced a most useful and welcome addition to a too often neglected area of legal scholarship." - Canadian Law Libraries
"'Three of four of the ten pieces in this collection were published earlier, and some are already modern classics...These pieces show an astonishing erudition and breadth of historical knowledge, and will delight and instruct both specialists and general readers... This summary of the contents should justify any lover of the common law in reading the book... He is born story-teller, and often the case-law he selects seems only to be a pretext to tell the reader something interesting and amusing about the past...May we see many more books flow from Professor Simpson's wonderful and original pen.'"
The Study of Cases
Politics and Law in Elizabethan England: Shelley's Case
The Timeless Principles of Common Law: Keeble V. Hickeringill (1707)
Legal Science and Legal Absurdity: Jee v. Audley
The Beauty of Obscurity Raffles v. Wickelhaus and Busch
Victorian Judges and the Problems of Social Cost: Tipping v. St Helen's Smelting Company (1865)
Bursting Reservoirs and Victorian Tort Law: Rylands and Horrocks v. Fletcher (1868)
The Ideal of the Rule of Law: Regina v. Keyn (1876)
Quackery and Contract Law: Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company (1893)