Law and Liberty

In the Fourth John Bonython Lecture, Shirley Letwin analyses the way in which the rule of law sustains individual liberty and a free society. Because the law provides a framework of rules for general cases, activists of all political persuasions argue for a greater role for judges in interpreting the law to allow each case to be decided on its merits.

Although this might seem particularly attractive to those who favour a market economy, according to Shirley Letwin ‘We should stick to the letter of the law for the same reason that we prefer a market economy’. Dr Letwin argues that in the long run, respect for the rule of law is the only way to accommodate human individuality and our best guarantee against tyrannical and arbitrary government. Although legal procedures can be slow and awkward, this inconvenience represents the market price for liberty’ and as such is a price that we must pay without hesitation.