Hamlyn Lectures 2022: Courts and the Body Politic

Published: 17 October 2022

The School of Law is delighted to be hosting the second lecture in the Hamlyn Lectures 2022 series on Courts and the Body Politic, delivered by Professor Catherine O'Regan. The lecture will take place on Wednesday 9 November.

Professor Catherine O'Regan, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford

'Courts and the Executive Branch of Government'

Wednesday 9 November, 6.00pm

Senate Room, Main Building, University of Glasgow

Register: Eventbrite registration page

The second lecture in the 2022 Hamlyn series explores the relationship between courts, memorably described by Alexander Hamilton as the least dangerous branch of government, and the executive branch, often said to be the most powerful. Holding a powerful executive branch to account is generally a perilous exercise for courts, although it is a task that the rule of law requires them to perform. This lecture argues that the relationship between courts and the executive branch is a challenging one not only because of the political risks, but also because of the different, and institutionally incompatible ways, in which the executive and the courts work. This incompatibility is acute in at least two circumstances: during national crises and when corruption becomes endemic.


Catherine O'Regan is the inaugural Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and a former judge of the South African Constitutional Court (1994 – 2009). In the mid-1980s she practiced as a lawyer in Johannesburg in a variety of fields, but especially labour law and land law, representing many of the emerging trade unions and their members, as well as communities threatened with eviction under apartheid land laws. In 1990, she joined the Faculty of Law at UCT where she taught a range of courses including race, gender and the law, labour law, civil procedure and evidence. Since her fifteen-year term at the South African Constitutional Court ended in 2009, she has amongst other things served as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia (from 2010 - 2016), Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into allegations of police inefficiency and a breakdown in trust between the police and the community of Khayelitsha (2012 – 2014), and as a member of the boards or advisory bodies of many NGOs working in the fields of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and equality.

The Hamlyn Trust

The Hamlyn Trust was created in 1948, by Miss Emma Hamlyn in memory of her father, a solicitor and Justice of the Peace in Torquay, Devon, England. The object of the Trust is to further knowledge and understanding of the law, and this is achieved through an annual series of public lectures by distinguished judges, legal practitioners, academic lawyers and other eminent speakers. The Hamlyn lecture Series is run in partnership with the Hamlyn Trust.

This year’s Hamlyn lecture series consists of the following three lectures: 'The Expanding Constitutional Role of Courts', hosted by Queen's University Belfast; 'Courts and the Executive Branch of Government' hosted by the University of Glasgow; and 'Courts and Fundamental Rights', hosted by the University of Oxford.

The Hamlyn Trust: https://law.exeter.ac.uk/hamlyn/

First published: 17 October 2022