Skip navigation

In Memoriam: Professor Ronald Dworkin

14/02/2012

Professor Ronald Dworkin, who sadly died on 14 February, played an important part in the launch of the Bingham Centre during its first two years. He participated in its inaugural event, in March 2011, at Hogan Lovells, where he engaged in a "conversation" with US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Lord Justice Stephen Sedley, and Lord Anthony Lester. A year later he was the keynote speaker at the Bingham Centre's event, in conjunction with the Foreign Office and the Venice Commission, on "The Rule of Law in Europe" at Lancaster House. Anyone who heard him on those occasions could not fail to be struck by his brilliance, eloquence and humanity.

The Director writes:

"We were privileged to have the support and participation of Ronald Dworkin during the first years of the Bingham Centre's existence. He has rightly been described as "the modern day Mill", whose work will be read with benefit by generations to come. Some years back he gave the seminal British Academy Lecture on the subject of the rule of law, where he demonstrated that it is a concept that is not purely formal, allowing countries like China to claim adherence to its values. He uncoupled "rule by law" or "rule-book" law, from "rule of law", which he imbued with a number of important democratic principles, such as equality, respect for human dignity and access to human rights. His writings generally on legal philosophy showed that law is not a bare system of rules but is infused with moral content. Litigation in the public law sphere involves a moral claim against the state. He was the most eloquent and subtle seminar-leader, lecturer and author who, in forums such as the New York Review of Books, commented brilliantly on the practical legal issues of the day, and the respective roles of the courts and the executive. He will be deeply missed, leaving us so greatly enriched by his enduring insights."