British History, Culture & Sports, History of Freedom, Heroes, Inventors, Brits at their Best.com, English country scene

Blog Home | All Posts

Plus ça change. . .

In his book Separate Ways, Lord Shore (Labour) expressed his astonishment at the complexity of EC, later to be EU, laws and treaties -

"…no one who has been engaged seriously in the business of examining draft EC laws and treaties can have any doubt about their quite extraordinary – and deliberate - complexity. Every new article or treaty clause is, with reference to articles in earlier treaties - generally to be located in a separate treaty volume. Indeed part of the whole mystique of Community Law is its textual incomprehensibility, its physical dispersal, its ambivalence and its dependence upon ultimate clarification by the European Court of Justice: and the Brussels Commission and their long-serving, often expert officials are, in interpreting and manipulating all this, like a priestly caste - similar to what it must have been in pre-Reformation days, when the Bible was in Latin, not English; the Pope, his cardinals and bishops decided the content of canon law and the message came down to the laymen, only when the Latin text was translated into the vernacular by the dutiful parish priest."

Lord Shore ignores the fact that while canon law displays complexity, not uncommon in the laws of an institution over 2,000 years old, its tendency has been clarity.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica points out that canon law has had a lasting influence on marriage law, the law of obligations, the law of possession, wills, legal persons, and the concepts of crime and punishment in Britain's common law and the laws of the United States. These laws contain considerable clarity and equity, so it strikes me that canon law has made a positive contribution.

But I can't argue with the idea that EU laws and treaties appear idiotically complex, while EU bureaucrats and politicians now consider themselves above and beyond any national law, just as priests did before Henry II enacted the Constitutions of Clarendon.

Via the blog, Cranmer.

COPYRIGHT