Common Law and Ethical Principle

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Baron Leslie George Scarman
Baron Leslie George Scarman (1911 – 2004)
Peter Cadogan
Peter Cadogan (1921 – 2007)
Conway Memorial Lecture
Conway Memorial Lecture
Moncure Conway photo by Edward Steichen, 1907. Courtesy of Dickinson College.
Moncure Conway photo by Edward Steichen, 1907. Courtesy of Dickinson College.
Delivered at Conway Hall 16 November 1976. Chaired by Peter Cadogan and presented by Baron Leslie Scarman.
Abstract

The traditional connection between English Common Law and ethical principles has, in recent times, acquired a new dimension with the advent of the welfare state and the relatively novel idea that people, regardless of their position in society, have an automatic right to social and economic wellbeing.
The law must sufficiently embody and protect the new ethical principles. It can only do this by linking itself with the administrators of the welfare state, to ensure proper distribution of the social and economic rights which the state provides. But at the same time the welfare state must fully subject itself to the rule of law, if it is to maintain social and moral credibility. Hence judges should ensure that the law is being followed by the administrators, while the latter should always be willing to submit their activities to this judicial review.

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