Public Law Conference 2016: The Unity of Public Law?


Building on the success of the inaugural Public Law Conference that was held in 2014, the Centre for Public Law at the University of Cambridge will next year host the second in this series of biennial international conferences.

The conference will take place from Monday 12 to Wednesday 14 September 2016 under the theme: “The Unity of Public Law?” Convened by Professor John Bell, Dr Mark Elliott, Dr Jason Varuhas and Dr Shona Wilson Stark, the conference will examine, through comparative, doctrinal, institutional and theoretical lenses, whether Public Law can or ought to be conceived of as a unified discipline. The focus of the conference will be on common law jurisdictions. The convenors hope to welcome up to 300 delegates to Cambridge and anticipate that approximately 50 papers will be delivered in a combination of plenary and parallel panel sessions.

The conference will begin on the afternoon of Monday 12 September with contributions by The Rt Hon Lord Reed (Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom) and The Hon Robert French (Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia). They will reflect, from their vantage points as judges of British and Australian apex courts, on the extent to which courts in common law systems do and ought to make use of comparative materials when adjudicating upon public law matters. There will then be two full days on Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 September, commencing with a keynote address by The Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias (Chief Justice of New Zealand).

Other keynote speakers include: Professor TRS Allan (Professor of Jurisprudence and Public Law, University of Cambridge); Professor Johannes Chan (Professor of Law, University of Hong Kong); Professor Danwood Chirwa (Professor of Law, University of Cape Town); Professor Claudia Geiringer (Professor of Public Law, Victoria University of Wellington); Professor Janet Hiebert (Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University, Ontario); The Hon Grant Huscroft (Judge of the Court of Appeal for Ontario); Professor Aileen McHarg (Professor of Public Law, University of Strathclyde); Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta (President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi), and Professor Cheryl Saunders (Laureate Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne).

The conference convenors have now issued a call for papers. Prospective speakers are invited to submit abstracts of not more than 500 words addressing any aspect of the conference theme. Details about the theme and information about how to submit an abstract can be found on the conference website. Please note that those who have their papers accepted will have to meet their own expenses and pay the conference fee in the ordinary way. A fee-waiver programme has been established for the benefit of doctoral candidates whose papers are accepted; a concessionary rate is available for other doctoral students.

Conference registration is now open. Delegates who opt for residential packages will be accommodated in Cambridge Colleges located very close to the Faculty of Law Building, where the conference itself will take place. A conference dinner will be held on the evening of Tuesday 13 September in St John’s College. Further information about the conference fees and accommodation can be found on the conference website.

The 2014 Public Law Conference was kindly sponsored by Hart Publishing. The convenors are grateful to Hart Publishing for continuing to support the Public Law series by sponsoring the 2016 conference. An edited collection featuring some of the papers delivered at the 2014 conference — Bell, Elliott, Varuhas and Murray (eds), Public Law Adjudication in Common Law Systems: Process and Substance — will be published in early 2016 by Hart Publishing. It is hoped that a similar volume will be published following the 2016 conference.