With talk of judicial reform making headlines and leaping up the political agenda, a new and very timely initiative has been launched by IALS:– ‘Judicial Conversations’, devised and curated by Senior Associate Research Fellow and Emeritus Professor Leslie Moran. This first and well-attended event with the Rt. Hon. Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls 2012 – 2016, focused on his recent memoir, A Judge’s Journey (Hart, 2019). A three-way conversation between Lord Dyson, Professor Moran, and Dr Ruth Herz, a German judge whose career was spent in the youth court in Cologne, provided an opportunity to explore some of the content of this revealing and wide-ranging memoir in more depth. The conversation touched on many aspects of the book, including Lord Dyson’s response to the challenges of writing a memoir, and the impact of his family background on his professional life in general and judicial career in particular; both sides of his family arrived in the UK fleeing anti-Semitic persecution.
In the ‘Acknowledgements’, Lord Dyson explains that the book gives ‘a full account’ of his life. Asked about this phrase, he recognised the impossibility of such a project; selection is inevitable. For Professor Moran, this does not diminish the role that judicial memoirs, all too rare as they are, have to play in calling judges to account. A question from the audience touched on recent calls for judicial reform and increased judicial accountability; while stressing the importance of an independent judiciary in rule of law democracies, Lord Dyson’s cautious response highlighted the necessity of clarifying the terms of any review. It was clear, however, that he would not shy away from contributing to future reform debates if he thought he could better inform those debates.
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