‘The Most Law-Loving People in the World’: The Denouement of the Jamaica Litigation

R. W. Kostal

in A Jurisprudence of Power

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551941
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191714320 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Modern Legal History

 ‘The Most Law-Loving People in the World’: The Denouement of the Jamaica Litigation

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The legal program of the Jamaica Committee was founded on the premise that an English high court would seize on the private criminal prosecutions of Edward Eyre and Nelson and Brand to resolve the national dispute over martial law, and decisively in favour of liberty and the rule of law. This chapter excavates the two most important and authoritative judicial pronouncements on the Jamaica cases (in the form of separate charges to the grand jury provided in turn by Chief Justice Cockburn and Justice Blackburn). It considers the legal and political content of these charges, and the extensive critical commentaries they generated. The argument is made that instead of providing a coherent, definitive, and liberal account of martial law in the English constitution, judicial intervention in the Jamaica cases succeeded only in provoking further discord over its nature and content.

Keywords: British constitutional law; rule of law; martial law; Cockburn; Blackburn

Chapter.  34591 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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